Have you ever heard of Bladderwrack? This name might not ring familiar to your ears but it is a hidden gem we all should know about.
Fucus vesiculosus, commonly referred to as Bladderwrack, is a type of seaweed that grows on the coasts. It is also known as black tang, rockweed, sea grapes, and rock wrack. Since 1811, people have considered it a source of iodine and used it to treat Goitre (swelling of the Thyroid gland due to iron Deficiency).
Bladderwrack is a type of brown seaweed that can grow up to 35 inches and is 90cm tall. The seaweed is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can also treat obesity, joint pain, UTIs, skin ageing, and thyroid dysfunction. It contains calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium and phytochemicals & fibre for a healthy gut.
Bladderwrack works as an ‘ecosystem engineer’. It creates habitat, changes the environment with its physical presence and affects other species. Their thick bed absorbs waves and also helps to control coastal erosion. The seaweed colonises pebbles and rocks along the coasts of the inland sea and creates shelter for small crustaceans, crabs, mussels, sea snails, and slugs.
Bladderwrack Usage As A Food
The seaweed is slippery and leathery to the touch when it is harvested and becomes brittle when dried. And if rehydrated, it becomes softer. The leaves can be kept underneath the seafood while steaming and it is used to make broth and soups. The leaves can also be grilled, baked, and boiled. Rich in iodine and polysaccharide, it is considered a superfood.
Health Benefits Of Bladderwrack
Bladderwrack is rich in antioxidants, such as phlorotannins, fucoxanthin, alginic acid, fucoidans and Vitamins A and C. Pholrotannis and Fucoxanthin are antioxidants that eradicate free radicals as they are sources of premature ageing and chronic diseases. Fucoidan found in Bladderwrack promotes the growth of collagen that delays skin ageing. Bladderwrack is the perfect supplement iodine for vegans, vegetarians, and those who prefer avoiding iodine-enriched salt or processed bread. Bladderwrack is a seaweed used for medicinal purposes. Now it is also used as a facial scrub and incorporated as a seasoning to make stews, soups, salads, and smoothies.
Here are some health benefits of Bladderwrack:
Improves Gastrointestinal Function
Bladderwrack contains high levels of dietary fibre, which promotes gastrointestinal health. Dietary fibre helps regulate intestinal flow and also stimulates the growth of gut-friendly microbiota.
It also contains fucoidans and bioactive compounds with potent anti-diabetic properties. These compounds help reduce glucose absorption in the bloodstream and increase serum insulin levels.
Anticoagulant in Nature
Bladderwrack has anticoagulant properties that help minimise blood clotting in people with a history of high blood pressure and diabetes.
Helps With Chronic Acid Reflux
Bladderwrack can also help with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). It also helps promote weight loss and is beneficial for maintaining good eye health. The seaweed also helps regulate the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women.
Helps Relieve Stomach Problems
Consuming bladderwrack helps relieve stomach problems, as it forms a barrier between the stomach and the stomach acid and helps reduce inflammation. It also helps manage problems like Gastritis, Indigestion, and low stomach acid levels.
Helps Heal Wounds And Nourishes The Skin
Bladderwrack is rich in antioxidants and it can be used as a body butter or a lotion, as it nourishes and protects the skin. Additionally, the alginate in Bladderwrack helps the skin to heal after wounds, so it can be used to soothe itchy and irritated skin.
Helps Manage Hypothyroidism
Bladderwrack can help manage Hypothyroidism, a condition in which there isn’t enough thyroid hormone in the bloodstream, causing the metabolism to slow down.
Side Effects Of Bladderwrack
Bladderwrack may cause a skin rash when applied to an open wound. Consuming too much of it can increase the level of sodium and iodine in the body. The seaweed is dangerous for breastfeeding and pregnant ladies and can interfere with medications like blood thinners, thyroid medicine, and antiarrhythmic medicine.
People with iodine allergies should avoid consuming it, as consuming it in large amounts can be very dangerous for their health. People with bleeding disorders should not take Bladderwrack as it can increase the risk of excessive bleeding. Heavy metals found in the seaweed can cause nerve or kidney damage.
Moreover, the unpleasant taste and odour can make someone vomit after eating the seaweed, and people can sometimes also experience diarrhoea, bloating, and gastric pain. Consuming the seaweed without knowledge may cause itching and tingling sensations at the back of the throat. So, before consuming Bladderwrack, it is mandatory to consult with a doctor so that it doesn’t lead to any adverse side effects.
Bladderwrack is an iodine-enriched superfood that helps people with iodine deficiency. It is found mainly in the coastal regions. You can grill, steam, or bake the seaweed with other seafood like fish or lobster. Managing ailments like Chronic acid reflux, high blood pressure and diabetes is easy with regular use of Bladderwrack.