(NaturalNews) Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), a brown seaweed similar to kelp, gets its name from the air sacs that keep the plant afloat in cold sea water. Bladderwrack is a great plant source of iodine thatis essential for the human body, but the body cannot make on its own. Iodine is needed for the thyroid gland to do its job. Without iodine, the thyroid cannot produce enough hormones. This is especially important in women's health because one of the consequences of an under-performing thyroid isthe inabilityto ovulate. In pregnancy, low thyroid function can cause high blood pressure in the mother and impaired mental function in the baby.
Iodine is also used to treat fibrocystic breast disease in women, which is a leading cause of breast cancer. According to a 2004 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, bladderwrack performs similarly to soy in the regulation of female sex hormones. Because of this, bladderwrack can be considered a safe alternative to GMO soy to support women's health.
Bladderwrack reduces cholesterol and regulates sex hormones in women at risk for estrogen-related cancers
In 2004, scientists explored why women in Western cultures developed estrogen-related cancers at a faster rate than women in Eastern cultures. The scientists supposed that the much higher rate of seaweed consumption in Asian countries may offer an explanation. The researchers knew that bladderwrack and other seaweeds reduced blood cholesterol levels. They also knew that lower cholesterol levels helped regulate sex hormone levels in women. The scientists decided to test whether bladderwrack, a common part of the Asian woman's diet, helped to regulate women's monthly menstrual cycles and balance female sex hormones. In particular, the researchers wanted to find out if bladderwrack and kelp in general would be of benefit to women who were at risk for estrogen-related cancers and other diseases.
When women of child-bearing age with a history of menstrual problems and very light and short menstrual cycles increased their consumption of bladderwrack, they noticed that their monthly periods were considerably longer. Among women at risk for estrogen-related cancers, a daily dose of 1.4 g (about one-fourth teaspoon) of bladderwrack significantly lowered estrogen levels and increased progesterone levels. Progesterone is the female sex hormone which prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg every month. Without a healthy level of progesterone, a woman cannot conceive and sustain a pregnancy.
Could bladderwrack replace soy to promote women's health?
Major concerns over GMO soy produced in the U.S. have many women looking for safe alternatives to soy that promote women's health. Additonally, bladderwrack may alsohelp women with weight loss if weight gain is related to thyroid issues. It does this because iodine stimulates the thyroid gland to help regulate metabolism.
Bladderwrack is an antioxidant, which reduces free radicals known to trigger breast cancer cell growth. As demonstrated above, bladderwrack does appear to regulate female sex hormones in a similar manner to soy. The seaweed can be considered as a safe replacement for soy products.
Unbound Medicine.com, "The effect of Fucus vesiculosus, an edible brown seaweed, upon menstrual cycle length and hormonal status in three pre-menopausal women: a case report," C.F. Skibola. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine August 2004; 10. http://www.unboundmedicine.com