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What is Fucus Vesiculosus?

Deanna Baranyi
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fucus vesiculosus is a brownish-green colored algae that is more commonly known as bladder wrack or kelp. It is native to the western shores of the Mediterranean Sea and to the North Atlantic coasts. Although it has many uses, ranging from fuel to food for cattle, it is also a popular homeopathic remedy. It may be used to prevent goiter or thyroid disease, to promote weight loss, to treat rheumatism, and as an antiviral treatment.

This marine plant is both flexible and strong. Although brownish-green when alive, fucus vesiculosus turns black when it dries out. It has a strong odor and an unpleasant taste. This alga contains polysaccharides, polyphenols, and minerals, specifically iodine. The polysaccharides generally work to stimulate the immune system, while the iodine works to stimulate the thyroid.

Many people claim this algae promotes weight loss through the use of a patch or capsules made from the alga. It is believed that since the alga is high in iodine, iodine levels in the body will increase by consuming the capsules or wearing the patch. The body uses iodine to make the thyroid hormone, which manages the body’s metabolism. Consequently, users hope there will be an increase in the production of the thyroid hormone by wearing the patch and also an increase in the body’s metabolism. By increasing the body’s metabolism, a person may be able to lose weight without exercising and dieting.

Although there is little or no scientific research to support the use of fucus vesiculosus as a homeopathic remedy, many people continue to use it for a variety of ailments. For example, it is believed to stop fatty degeneration of the coronary arteries and the heart. It is also used for people suffering from nephritis because it is believed to lessen renal irritation and congestion. In addition, it may suppress the growth of some cancerous cells, making it a powerful aid for people with cancer.

Clinical trials have not been conducted on humans for many of the purported uses of fucus vesiculosus. For example, it is believed to relieve heartburn, heal wounds, lower cholesterol levels, and relieve diarrhea, yet there is no scientific data to support these claims. A German study performed in a test tube appeared to show that fucus vesiculosus was successful as an antiviral and as a suppressor to HIV activity.

Because this algae is high in iodine, there are some side effects and a medical professional should be contacted before beginning its use. For example, an abnormal thyroid may result from its consumption. In some cases, extreme acne, low blood sugar levels, and abnormal bleeding may develop. Lesser side effects include a brass-like taste in the mouth, extreme salivation, and an irritated stomach. If the alga has a high level of arsenic, there can be nerve and kidney toxicity as well.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Deanna Baranyi
By Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her work. With degrees in relevant fields and a keen ability to understand and connect with target audiences, she crafts compelling copy, articles, and content that inform and engage readers.
Discussion Comments
By Slitherine — On Mar 21, 2014

I don't think I would use fucus vesiculosus as a dietary supplement, it just hasn't been tested enough and has possible nasty side effects.

There is no denying this algae has some essential nutrients. Fucus vesiculosus is widely used as a type of manure for fertilizer.

There are benefits in using this algae as a fertilizer over animal manure. Animal manure can have various bacteria that are unwanted. The smell involved with certain animal manure is hard to handle too, mainly pig manure.

Like most algae fucus vesiculosus can be handled rather easily in a dried form. Dehydrating algae makes shipping and storage easy as well.

Preparing algae for the field is as simple as steeping the dried plant matter in water for a couple of days.

Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her...
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