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Originally published April 7 2005

Seaweed has both nutritional and medicinal value, study says

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

Seaweed has been shown to be a very nutritious food source, but there has been research into its medicinal properties, as well. Seaweed has traditionally been used to cure a variety of maladies in Ireland and Scotland, and Japan's low rate of breast cancer may be traced to the fact that the Japanese eat a great deal of seaweed. In fact, seaweed has killed cancer cells in lab experiments, though research is still ongoing.

Most people associate seaweed with the crispy, salty appetisers served at Chinese restaurants, yet there is a strong tradition of seaweed consumption in Celtic areas such as Scotland, Ireland and Brittany. Japanese nori, the small red seaweed Porphyra umbilicalis, which is used in many sushi dishes, also grows in this country, where it used to be known as sloke. Researchers have started to investigate seaweed's nutritional qualities and have discovered that it is a rich source of antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, and the vitamins B1 (thiamine, which keeps nerves and muscle tissue healthy), B2 (riboflavin, which helps the body to absorb iron and is therefore good for anaemics) and vitamin B12. It also contains trace elements, such as chromium, which affects the way insulin behaves in the body, and zinc, which helps with healing. Legend has it in Brittany that the earliest seaweed farmers never worried about the cuts they sustained while handling the knotted tangles of seaweed and kelp they were harvesting to make pain d'algues --- seaweed bread --- because they knew that the wounds healed with little or no treatment. A US study out in February indicated that a diet containing kelp lowers levels of the sex hormone oestradiol (a form of oestrogen) in rats and bringing hope that it might also decrease the risk of oestrogen-dependent diseases such as breast cancer in human beings. "The most profound discovery was that women with endometriosis and severe menstrual irregularities experienced significant improvement in their symptoms after three months of taking 700mg of seaweed capsules a day, " says Dr Chris Skibola, an assistant research toxicologist at the School of Public Health at the University of California. For 20 years Japanese scientists have run more than 500 clinical trials to discover whether there are elements in seaweed that could suppress the growth of tumour cells.

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