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Kelp or Bladderwrack – (Fucus vesiculosis)


Kelp or bladderwrack grows in colder ocean waters and can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacifica Oceans as well as the North Sea and the Baltic Sea along the coastlines in sheltered areas. It grows to a height of two to three feet, with small vesicles, or bladders on the leaves. This seaweed was the original source of iodine in the 1800s.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Kelp is sometimes used to treat underactive thyroid. It may be useful in helping control weight gain due to thyroid issues. Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can be treated both internally and externally with this herb. It is a natural laxative and can help with constipation or regulating the bowel. It is also used by some bodybuilders who say that it stimulates the apetite - essential for those bodybuilders who find that they struggle to eat meals on a regular basis.

Externally – Kelp can be used topically to treat arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Other Uses – Kelp is used as a valuable manure for crops in Britain. It is burned to create smoke for bacon and dried fish in the Channel Islands. It has been experimented with as a feed for horses.

Parts Used

Roots, stem, leaves – The root, stem and leaves are all dried as a mass to be processed into herbal remedies.


Watch for allergic reactions to kelp. Iodine sensitivity may also be an issue to watch for. With the heavy metal content of the oceans, one should be careful about the levels of heavy metals that may also be ingested. The high iodine content may cause thyroid problems. It may also cause acne in susceptible persons. Levels of arsenic can build up in the body causing kidney and nerve problems. Diabetics and hypoglycemics should be cautious because kelp can lower blood sugar or interact with medications. It may cause thinning of the blood, so regular users will need to watch for abnormal bleeding and bruising. Those on blood thinning medications should avoid. This herb is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation.

It may also interact with medications taken for thyroid disorders, hormone therapies and diabetic medications. Since the herbal remedy has a laxative effect, it should not be taken with other laxatives. Do not take with ginkgo biloba as it increases bleeding risks. This can also happen when combining with garlic or saw palmetto to a lesser degree. If taken with ma huang (ephedra), herbs high in caffeine or guarana, the body may become hyperstimulated. It may also decrease iron absorption and interact with diuretics.

This herb should not be taken by anyone under the age of 18.

Preparation and Dosage

Kelp can be taken in capsules or tablets, as an infusion or a tincture. For capsules, 200 to 600 mg can be taken daily. Tablets can also be used, gradually working up to 24 tablets per day divided into three doses. Two fluid ounces of the infusion can be taken three times per day, or 4 to 8 ml of tincture before meals.

Topical patches can be found to help lose weight.

Kelp Herbal Remedies Top