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  • Fucus versiculosis L.
  • Laminariaceae
  • Algae family

Common Names

herbsBlack tany
herbsBladder fucus
herbsHai-ts'ao (Chinese name)
herbsSea oak

Parts Usually Used

Whole plant

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Seaweed: many species are used: Kombu (L. japonica), L. angusta, L. cichorioides, L. religiosa, L. longpedalis, etc. All are varieties of edible seaweed.

Where Found

Thrives in the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean along the rocky shores.

Medicinal Properties

Expectorant, demulcent, emollient, alterative, diuretic, nutritive, thyroid tonic, antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, metabolic stimulant

Biochemical Information

Mucilage, volatile oil, iodine, biotin, bromine, choline, copper, inositol, PABA, selenium, sodium, calcium, iron, alginic acid, mannitol, carotene, protein, riboflavin, vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E and zinc.

Legends, Myths and Stories

Several varieties of the seaweed have been therapeutically used. In the 18th century, iodine was isolated by distilling the long ribbons, or thalli, and kelp was the main source of iodine for more than 50 years. The herb was used extensively to treat goiter, a swelling of the thyroid related to lack of iodine. In the 1860s it was claimed that kelp, as a thyroid stimulant, could counter obesity by increasing the metabolic rate. Since then, it has been featured in numerous slimming remedies.

In China, Shen-ung wrote in 3000 BC about the value of kelp. During the time of Confucius, a poem about a housewife cooking seaweed appeared in The Chinese Book of Poetry, written between 800 and 600 BC. In that time, kelp was regarded as such an exquisite delicacy that it was offered as a sacrificial food for the gods. In the Pen Tsao Kang Mu, published in China in the 16th century, kelp is recommended for goiter.

Harvesting marine crops in Japan is a thriving industry today; a practice since the ancient empire of Japan. The Japanese people refer to seaweed as "Heaven Grass," highly regarded for its nutritional and medicinal value. Diving girls (ama) of coastal villages in Japan probe marine gardens of offshore lagoons in harvesting seaweed. These young women are graceful, hardy divers with superb figures and have become a proud tradition in Japan.

As far as known, kelp has no long range accumulative disadvantages; the body takes what it needs and discharges the rest. Minerals are not stored in the body. None of kelp's natural store of elements are removed or lost from the time it is harvested to the time it is compressed into a tablet. Kelp tablets are worthy of a trial.

The Dutch use kelp for covering or packing lobsters and crabs, that are to be conveyed to a considerable distance; because it keeps them alive much longer than any other species of this plant; nor does it easily ferment, or become putrid.

Kelp is excellent fertilizer; it is asserted, that the land will continue unexhausted for 7-8 years; an advantage which dung does not possess, as it requires to be renewed every second or third year.

In the Hebrides islands, kelp serves as a winter food for cattle, which regularly frequent the shores for it, after the tide has ebbed. The inhabitants of these isles dry their cheese without using any salt, by covering it with the ashes of this plant.

Much of seawrack's saline taste may be minimized by taking the powdered botanical in capsule or tablet form and following with a little red wine or flavorsome herb tea such as made with lemon grass, lemon verbena or sassafras.


Soothes irritated throat and mucous membranes, soothes cough, dissolves firm masses such as tumors, treats enlarged thyroid, scrofula, lymph node enlargements, normalizes a weak or enlarged prostate gland, swollen and painful testes, and reduces edema. Reported to be very beneficial to the sensory nerves, membranes surrounding the brain, spinal cord, and brain tissue. Use for hair loss, goiter, ulcers, and obesity. Good for arteries, rheumatism, and nails. Protects from effects of radiation, and softens stools.

Good for those with mineral deficiency.

Obesity (overweight) is seldom seen among the Polynesians and other races who use seaweeds as a regular part of their daily diet.

Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 heaping tsp. in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups a day an hour before meals, and one hot upon retiring.

Nutrient Content

Iodine, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, carotene, riboflavin, vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E and zinc.

How Sold



Generally contraindicated for patients with weak or deficient spleen or stomach. Like many sea creatures, kelp is at risk from heavy metal pollution. Do no collect kelp where levels of cadmium and/or mercury are known to be high.

Chemical solutions of iodine or iodide enter the circulation almost instantaneously and larger amounts may cause allergic reactions unless used under close medical supervision. Plant iodine is absorbed slowly with other elements and rarely (if at all) causes sensitizing reactions when taken in reasonable amounts.

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