(NaturalNews) People have eaten seaweed, sometimes called "sea vegetables" for thousands of years. It is coming under more and more scientific scrutiny and the discoveries are pretty amazing. The mixture of vitamins, minerals and trace elements found in seaweeds so closely resembles that of the human body, that the minerals and other healing elements found in seaweed are easily absorbed through the skin and digestive tract and into the blood. Some researchers are beginning to believe seaweed alone is an almost perfect solution to many health woes.
Seaweeds are virtually fat-free, very low calorie and the richest sources of minerals in the vegetable kingdom. Because they grow in the sea, seaweeds naturally absorb an abundance of the minerals found in the ocean. Sea vegetables contain large amounts of calcium and phosphorous and are extremely high in magnesium, iron, iodine and sodium.
Seaweed also contains a wide variety of vitamins including vitamin A, B1, C and E, concentrated protein and healthy carbohydrates. It may well be the most nutritionally-packed food on the planet. There are many kinds of seaweeds, generally broken down into reds and browns with each type having its own nutritional and health benefit profile. Some of the newest discoveries related to seaweed focus on compounds found in brown algae, specifically Ecklonia cava. These compounds are currently being hailed as "super" antioxidants.
One such compound, Eckol, has been shown to protect lung cells from oxidative damage. Fibroblast cells from hamster lungs were exposed to hydrogen peroxide and other known oxidizers to intentionally induce cellular damage. Eckol was shown to scavenge these radicals and thus prevented the peroxidation of lipids. The oxidation of lipids is one of the causes of cardiovascular disease and blocked arteries. Oxidized lipids are also implicated in the blood clots leading to heart attacks and strokes. Eckol actually reduced cell death in the lung cells exposed to the hydrogen peroxide. Eckol also inhibited cell damage induced by starvation and radiation.
One way Eckol inhibits cellular damage is through increasing the activity of catalase; the enzyme responsible for turning harmful hydrogen peroxide into water and hydrogen. Eckol also increases phosphorylation of extra-cellular kinase (the enzyme which modifies proteins). Phosphorylation is part of the metabolic pathway that uses energy released by oxidation of nutrients to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that supplies energy to metabolism.
Another compound found in Ecklonia cava is triphlorethol-A, a phlorotannin which is a potent polyphenol. Phlorotannins have a unique polyphenol structure that gives them biological functions not found in land-based plants. The extract from Ecklonia cava represents a new and unique category of polyphenols. Polyphenols are a class of plant compounds which possess antioxidant properties and have multiple health benefits. As with the Eckol previously mentioned, triphlorethol-A dramatically decreased induced cellular damage in lung cells.
Peroxynitrite scavenging and inhibition of NF-kappaB may account for much of the beneficial effects of Ecklonia cava extract (ECE). This is consistent with the NO/ONOO-theory, the Nitric Oxide Cycle theory put forth by Dr. Martin Pall to explain such diseases as Gulf War Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia and 14 other conditions. This theory deserves a comprehensive article all its own. Peroxynitrite is the most notorious of the free radicals incriminated by Dr. Martin Pall, Ph.D. ECE has demonstrated potent reducing power and radical scavenging activities against DPPH radical, oxidized LDL and peroxynitrite.
What makes ECE such a superior antioxidant? These scavenging abilities are due to its chemical structure. ECE is made up of 8 interconnected rings giving it 10 to 100 times the free radical scavenging ability of other polyphenols which usually have 3 rings, sometimes 4. For example, green tea catechins have found recent popularity as an antioxidant. These substances only have 4 rings so are much less powerful.
ECE is 40% fat-soluble giving it a half-life of 10 to 12 hours, compared to 30 minutes for water-soluble, land-based polyphenols; therefore ECE are active in the body for extended periods of time. ECE has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which polyphenols from land-based plants cannot do, thus making it a promising treatment for certain brain diseases. Much scientific research has been done for the last 14 years by Dr. Haengwoo Lee, a Korean biochemist now living near Seattle, Washington. He and his team of PhDs' research has included test-tube experiments, animal models, and now more than seven human trials. These studies are summarized below.
In an 8-week, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of established fibromyalgia patients, ECE demonstrated beneficial results with no adverse effects. Those patients receiving placebos experienced NO improvement. ECE reduced the time it took participants to fall asleep by 47 minutes, increased total nighttime sleep by 1.6 hours, improved soundness of sleep by 80%, and boosted energy levels by 71%. The participants reported 2 and 1/4 more good days per week, pain reductions of 31% and an improvement in their general condition by 39%.
DGAT is a key enzyme in the synthesis of triglycerides. Recent studies have shown that mice deficient in this enzyme are resistant to diet induced obesity and have increased insulin and leptin sensitivity. These effects suggest that inhibition of DGAT may be a treatment not only for obesity but also for diabetes. Dr. Lee found that ECE compounds inhibited DGAT by more than 50%. In laboratory rats genetically bred to be obese, ECE reduced body fat and increased physical activity.
In another study, ECE caused leanness and fat-resistance in animals given a high fat diet. 141 young adults were given a beverage containing 200mg of ECE daily. In two weeks, their average weight dropped nearly 2.5 pounds, muscle mass increased by nearly 2.5 pounds, and body fat dropped by 4 pounds, or 7.48%. ECE appears to stimulate the body to burn fat by increasing muscle mass.
ECE contains natural compounds capable of suppressing triglyceride synthesis, while promoting cholesterol removal and cardiovascular protection. It provides additional cardiovascular protection for obese patients prone to CVD and CHD through lowering LDL cholesterol and scavenging free radicals. ECE has been shown to improve coronary artery disease (CAD) and is a potent inhibitor of the oxidation of LDL. By preventing/reducing oxidation, ECE also reduces vascular inflammation by reducing inflammatory mediators such as inflammatory prostaglandins.
This occurred as a 6-Week Clinical Trial. Researchers gave 39 adults (average age 55.6 years) low dose (100 mg) ECE compounds for six weeks. In that time, their average cholesterol dropped from 228 to 224, LDL dropped from 141 to 135 and HDL rose from 46.5 to 50.7 (statistically significant). Triglycerides fell from 215 to 195 and the atherogenic (ability to cause atherosclerosis) index dropped 12.5%. Although some of these changes were slight, ALL were influenced in a health positive direction.
This was conducted as a 4-Week Animal Study. Phlorotannin administered at a dose of 50mg/kg was compared to enalapril 10mg/kg. Upon oral administration of phlorotannin (99.4%, 50 mg/kg) or enalapril (commercial hypotensive drug, 10 mg/kg), mice were surgically treated to cause Systolic blood pressures of as high as 200mmHg. While on both ECE and enalapril, SBP dropped to as low as 140 mmHg; upon discontinuation, the SBP of the ECE treated mice rebounded more slowly than those treated with enalapril.
High blood pressure is often treated by a class of drugs known as ACE inhibitors. The phlorotannins in ECE have been found to be potent natural ACE inhibitors, demonstrating more than 15 times the power to inhibit ACE as the most powerful land-based polyphenols.
ECE compounds have been found to be potent aldose reductase inhibitors, which may benefit patients with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. ECE served to markedly inhibit NF-kappaB inflammation in the pancreas. A recent Harvard (Joslin School of Diabetes) mouse study directly implicates excessive fat deposition in the mouse pancreas as turning on the NF-kappaB inflammation pathway, resulting in full-blown type II diabetes and insulin insensitivity in the mice. ECE inhibits this depositing of fat.
ECE has been found to prevent pathological blood clots by promoting the formation of plasmin, a compound that performs fibrinolysis or breaking down of blood clots. It does this without causing hemorrhaging.
Brain Function: Memory, Relaxation, Alertness
Dr. Lee's group found that ECE can increase the velocity of blood flow in the carotid artery from an average of 36.68 cm/sec to 40.09cm/sec. EEG studies show these compounds increase alpha-waves (the brain waves produced during activities requiring alertness) . ECE prevented sleepiness in bus drivers and in high school students during daytime activities. It protects brain cells from inflammatory reactions induced by lack of oxygen. Acetylcholine production was enhanced up to 140% in the frontal cortex of the brain. This area is crucial in long-term memory and associative thinking. In mice, ECE inhibited deposition of beta-amyloid in the brain. Beta-amyloid is the substance which accumulates in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Arthritis and Neuropathy:
ECE is comparable to Celebrex in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions without the dangerous cardiovascular side effects. Researchers recently studied ECE on 40 patients with neuropathy (nerve pain). ECE reduced this pain by 40% in four weeks. Overall, 80% of the patients showed improvement.
Allergies / Asthma
ECE appears to significantly relieve allergic reactions without drowsiness, dizziness and the other side effects of anti-histamine drugs. Eosinophils, inflammatory white blood cells, cytokines (inflammatory markers) and mucous plugs in the airways were all reduced by up to 75%. Overgrowth of epithelial cells in the airways was reduced by 75%. Collagen-causing fibrosis in the lungs was reduced by 20% to 32%. These findings suggest that ECE compounds may prevent or reverse the progression of chronic lung disease such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Scientists studied 31 men with erectile dysfunction (ED) for over six months. They compared eight weeks of ECE use to ViagraŽ. Overall, ECE performed better than Viagra as indicated by the following chart:
ECE Scores: ViagraŽ Scores:
Orgasmic Function 87% Orgasmic Function 27% Intercourse Satisfaction 74% Intercourse Satisfaction 44% Overall Satisfaction 62% Overall Satisfaction 39% Erectile Function 66% Erectile Function 66%
ECE is manufactured from edible algae. Tens of thousands of people throughout the world have ingested ECE in various forms of products with no known side effects. Several toxicity tests have been performed and Dr. Lee's team has found NO toxicity at any level. ECE has been patented as SEANOL. There are many supplements currently on the market containing SEANOL advertised for weight loss, arthritis etc. Just do an internet search and decide which one is best for you.
Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine and Applied Radiological Science Research Institute, Cheju National University, Jeju-si 690-756, Republic of Korea.
About the author
Patty Donovan was in a wheelchair and could only walk around her house with a cane. She was on over 20 medications. When told to "take the morphine, get in the wheelchair and learn to live with it" by a neurosurgeon, she knew her life had to change. She is now almost a fanatic when it comes to healing through the use of "whole foods" and and natural remedies. Since that time, she has spent countless hours researching nutrtion and alternative health. After spending 30 years in the allopathic health care industry in both pharmacy and as an RN, she brings a unique perspective to Natural News readers. Since committing to this new life style, she no longer uses even a cane, has gotten off over 20 medications, lost over 50lbs and returned to work.