Latin: Laminaria, Undaria, Porphyra, and many others
Parts Used: Fronds
Taste/Energetics: Cool, moist
Properties: Nutritive tonic, demulcent, diuretic, aphrodisiac, cardiotonic, antimicrobial. analgesic, anxiolytic, anti-radiation, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive
Actions: There are a variety of seaweeds and they are all tremendously nutritious with loads of vitamins and minerals, Seaweeds are complex multicellular algae and they are generally broken up into three types- Red, Brown and Green. Seaweeds are composed of 20-50% minerals and that they are the best dietary source of essential minerals. Some of the best seaweeds to consume include hijiki, nori, dulse, wakame and kombu. Mineral rich seaweeds help improve thyroid function (due to high levels of iodine) and reduce chance of osteoporosis (high levels of calcium). A note here- the kelps such as Laminaria (kombu) have the highest amounts of iodine and seaweeds such as Porphyra (Nori) have comparatively very little. Its not good for people to get too much iodine as it could potentially lead to thyroid irregularities.
In general seaweeds are deeply nourishing and rejuvenating and can play a key role in helping people with long term exhaustion and depletion. Seaweeds feed our nerves, muscles and sinews, improves cardiac function, lowers blood pressure and soothes and nourishes an inflamed digestive system (ulcers, constipation, colitis, etc).
Seaweeds in general are anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic and useful for those who feel hot, wired and tired with inflammation, pain and anxiety. Seaweeds are great for those with CFS or fibromyalgia who feel stressed, exhausted and suffering from neuralgia.
Seaweed is wonderful for helping to heal viral outbreaks such as herpes and shingles. In places where seaweed is consumed regularly (Japan) incidences of breast cancer are quite low. In general, seaweed its seen as one of the key herbs to offer people going through cancer treatment as they have the ability to diminish the effects of radiation and provide essential nutrition.
Dosage: One of the best ways to consume seaweed is to add it in the pot when making bone broth (1 cup seaweed to large stock pot). You can eat it traditionally as a salad (see recipes) , add seaweed as a dried garnish by sprinkling it on meals or add it to soups. In general, there are various opinions on the “max dose” of seaweeds. Seaweed specialist Ryan Drum suggests no more than about 10 pounds a year. That breaks down to about 10 grams a day or about a 1/3rd of an ounce a day. In general the key issue here is excess iodine consumption. If you consume the seaweed raw in capsules amor as a powdered garnish, the doses should be fairly low- about a gram a day. If you add the seaweed to soups and broths, much of the iodine will be evaporated out and there is less worry about overconsumption of iodine and eating up to several grams a day for those without thyroid issues is reasonable. In general, the more one readily consumes small amounts of seaweed, the more chance for the digestive system to develop the enzymes needed to appropriately consume these sea vegetables.
Contraindications: There are many precautions about gathering them as there can easily be contamination. Avoid gathering or purchasing them from areas where the seaweeds are near to industrial areas, contaminated rivers and estuaries. There has been some concern over the effect of radiation and specifically the Fukushima meltdown and how it could impact coastal seaweeds. Through extensive studies of the Western coastline there has been no incidence of increased radiation along the North American Pacific Coast. Avoid taking if consuming blood thinner drugs or for those with thyroid imbalances.
Read everything that Ryan Drum has written on the subject- seriously.
Sea Vegetables for Food and Medicine by Ryan Drum
Medicinal Uses of Seaweeds by Ryan Drum
Bullwhip Kelp by Ryan Drum
Radiation Protection Using Seaweeds by Ryan Drum
Seaweed Harvesting by Jon Keyes
Seaweed by Susun Weed