Fucus vesiculosus is a highly recommended algae when used against obesity and cellulitis, both ailments common among the inhabitants of the developed world.
Algae are water plants with chlorophyll or other coloring substances, whose size varies from microorganisms (unicellular algae) to the size of an earth plant (multi-cellular algae). In China and Japan, algae have been used as food for many centuries.
Modern scientific research has proven fucus usefulness in these afflictions, but the main discovery has been some interesting properties.
Fucus Vesiculosus Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name – Fucus vesiculosus.
- Other Names – Sea ware, wrack, bladder fucus.
- French – Varech, fucus vesiculeux.
- Spanish – Fucus, sargazo vejigoso.
- Environment – Rocks and beaches on the European Atlantic coast, from Norway to the Iberian peninsula, where it is especially abundant in Galician rias.
- Description – Algae of the Fucaceae family is brown, whose thallus is formed by tape-shaped sheets that stick by their base to underwater rocks. These sheets contain air bladders (aerocysts), which keep the plant upright. The reproductive system of the algae is located at its apex.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally – The thallus (the body of the algae).
Fucus vesiculosus, or bladder fucus, when dry, contains 65% sugar, among which the alginic acid is remarkable (12-18%), and fucoidan (a mucilaginous polysaccharide). Fucus also contains 15% mineral salts, especially iodine, potassium, and bromine; 5% of proteins, and 1%-2% fat, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Fucus is likely to contain small amounts of vitamin B12 since it is frequently polluted by microscopic algae, the actual producers of this vitamin. Therefore, fucus is very promising for people who want to follow a strict vegetarian diet.
Fucus vesiculosus has anti scurvy, nourishing, remineralizing, depurative, and mildly laxative properties, but it mainly acts as a weight loss plant, an anticellulite, and an invigorating of the thyroid. Its primary application are the following:
- Absorbent and anorexigenic (calms the sensation of hunger) – Alginic acid and its salts (alginates), and the other mucilages in fucus, can absorb water up to six times their weight. Because of this property, they increase in volume when in the stomach and produce a full sensation. Therefore, fucus is a valuable remedy for treating obesity caused by bulimia (excess appetite).
- Nourishing, remineralizing, and anti scurvy – Bladder fucus provides mineral salts, vitamins, proteins, and other nutritional substances, which prevent, during long-lasting weight-loss diets, malnutrition states or lack of these essential substances.
- Mild laxative – The antiobesity properties of fucus is enhanced by its mild laxative and emollient effect due to its high content of mucilage.
- Thyroid invigorating – This alga contains a high concentration of iodine and organic iodine salts: 150 mg per kilogram of algae (to obtain the same amount, we would need 3,000 seawater liters). The thyroid requires iodine to produce tyrosine, a hormone that promotes burning the nourishing substances we eat, thus activating metabolism.
Because of its content in organic iodine, it is used as a complementary treatment of hyperthyroidism, whether associated or not with goiter. In these cases, medical advice is required. Fucus can be taken orally in any of its preparations, and applied in compresses soaked in its decoction on the throat.
- Emollient – Externally applied on the skin as compresses or poultices, bladder fucus has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, promotes the elimination of chlorine salts, and helps reduce the volume of fatty tissues. These actions make fucus a beneficial plant to treat cellulitis, wrinkles, stretch marks, and skin flaccidity.
How to use Fucus Vesiculosus
- Fresh alga – It is taken as a vegetable, though its flavor is not enjoyable for everybody.
- Decoction or infusion of fucus dry extract, with 15 to 20 grams per liter of water. Drink three or four cups daily.
- Powder – It is taken in the form of capsules. The usual dose is 0.5-2 g, 1-3 times a day.
Fucus must be taken in any listed ways fifteen minutes before meals in weight-loss diets. This way, it exerts a more significant anorexigenic action (which reduces appetite). In other cases, fucus can be taken with meals or after them.
- Compresses soaked in the liquid resulting of the decoction, then applied hot on the affected areas 2 or 3 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Poultices prepared with the fresh alga, previously heated in a bowl with water. Apply hot on the affected skin area during 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times daily.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 650, 651. Print. [fucus vesiculosus]