The Natural Way

Wednesday, March 6, 2002

The name of this herb sounds like something from a dark ages dungeon. Bladderwrack (Fuscus vesiculosus) has a long use predating those dark ages, even thousands of years prior. The name is from the old signature system of describing the plant and its uses. You see this plant is sort of a seaweed. Seaweed anchors itself to the ocean floor and stays afloat with buoyant bladders. Bladderwrack is also named for its traditional use with kidney and bladder inflammation as well as the "wracking" pain of sprains and rheumatoid arthritis. Nutritionally, science knows this herb from the sea is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, chlorophyll, chromium, fiber, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin and zinc. The chemical constituents are too numerous to list, notably beta-sitosterol, myristic acid and oleic acid, and these are just the ones we know about. The old ones used it for a variety of disorders, including treating symptoms of hypothyroidism or low functioning thyroid; weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, aches and pains and menstrual difficulties. The thyroid gland is a complex part of your hormonal system. When it malfunctions many symptoms can occur. A good partnership with a regular M.D. is a good thing. Bladderwrack is often used for weight loss. This should be done with care as weight gain could be caused by hypothyroidism which could be masked by using this herb. Additionally, the herb is high in iodine, which you might guess as it comes from the sea. Overdosing could be easy as the herb will not consistently provide the same amount of iodine. The maximum daily intake of iodine is limited to 120 micrograms, a very small amount. Some people are allergic to iodine with potentially strong reactions. Also, people who are prone to hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) should not use this herb as it could easily set off a manic phase. One last caution, bladderwrack may interact with medications used for diabetic patients. Still, if used wisely, many benefits remain.

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