Fucus vesiculosis is found on submerged rocks on both coasts of North America and in Europe north of the Mediterranean, where it drifts in from time to time through the Strait of Gilbraltar.
The perennial front or thallus is coarse, light yellow or brownish-green in color, erect, and from two to three feet in height. It attaches itself to the rocks by branched, root-like, discoid, woody extremities developed from the base of the stalk. The frond is almost fan-shaped, narrow and strap shaped at the base, the rest flat and leaf-like in form, wavy, many times divided into two, with erect divisions having a very strong, broad, compressed midrib running to the apex. The margin is entire, the texture tough and leathery, mainly olive brown in color, the younger portion yellower, shining. Air vesicles developed in the substance of the frond, usually in pairs, one on either side of the midrib and often one at the fork of the divisions, broadly oval or spherical, attaining when fully grown half an inch in diameter, are the characteristic of this species which have suggested both the English and Latin names. The fructification is contained in small globose conceptables with a firm wall lined with numerous jointed hairs and sunk in the surface of large ovoid-oblong or narrower, pointed or blunt, swollen receptacles, filled with a transparent mucus. These attain an inch in length and are situated at the ends of the divisions of the fronts.
Dr. Christopher mentioned the use of Kelp as a thyroid healer and as a weight loss aid. However, other researchers have had dramatic results with the use of Kelp. Dr. Eric F. W. Powell relates several cases. One lady was suffering from severe headaches. Her nerves, digestive organs, kidney and all other organs appeared to be healthy. She slept well generally, except when her headaches were very severe. At times she was almost frantic with the pain, which was located at the base of the skull and often extended to the neck. The doctor recommended Kelp, which was given in a homeopathic potency for two weeks. The pain vanished. The doctor said that crude Kelp could also have been used, though the cure would have taken longer. A young man came to this same doctor suffering from malnutrition and nightly headaches which he said nearly drove him crazy. The pains were accompanied by intense throbbing at the top of the head. The doctor noted that the man was very debilitated, thin, nervous, and exhausted. He recommended that the young man sprinkle a half a spoonful of powdered Kelp over two of his meals, breakfast and lunch, every day. Additionally, the doctor corrected his diet and had him take deep breathing exercises each morning and to take a quick cold friction bath each day. Slowly the headaches subsided and he was soon sleeping well. He also began to put on weight, became less nervous and was conscious of more vitality. He became more interested in his work and was a far more happy individual.
Dr. Powell also had a woman come to him with a severe case of dyspepsia which would not respond to the usual treatment. Kelp proved to be an efficacious remedy in this case. Another lady had suffered from digestive trouble for many years, suffering pain from even the smallest meal, vomiting frequently. She had spasm of the pylorus as soon as food entered her stomach. After prolonged treatment and constant failure with various remedies, the doctor tried Kelp. She experienced gradual relief and is now in a fair state of health. A lady fifty years old came to Dr. Powell with pain in the ascending colon. She was also constipated, was subject to sick headaches and always felt very weary. The painful colon kept her awake at night. Before the doctor placed her on his usual remedies, he decided to try Kelp, taken three times daily for two weeks. There was no noticeable effect for about ten days, and then, surprisingly, she began to experience much less pain and was not so constipated. Her headaches were about the same, due no doubt to the accumulated toxic state. Within a month, however, the headaches had cleared and she required no further treatment. Dr. Powell exclaimed what a simple treatment it was, yet so effective!
A man reported to Dr. Powell with much indigestion with bilious turns. Almost every morning for some months he had risen from bed in the morning with a sick headache. For a time he had taken purgatives, salts and aspirins, which, although giving relief, failed to heal the man; indeed, these things had made him worse. The doctor asked the man to fast and then put him on a cleansing diet. He got somewhat better, though not completely. Eventually he began to take Kelp and cell salts at every meal, and after some weeks his troubles left him. In this case, the doctor noted, Kelp not only acted on the liver, but also on the toxic colon, the gall bladder, kidneys, and meninges. The latter are usually involved when the headaches are severe.
Another lady was extremely debilitated. Her doctor had tested her for diabetes, anaemia, and all the debilitating disorders. Her endocrine glands appeared to be in order and she had no worries. Dr. Powell found a sluggish pancreas. Kelp with one other remedy effected a fairly rapid cure. She did not have to go on a difficult, restricted diet to obtain the desired results.
As a final, but very warming story there was a very thin and nervous lady who was very much the odd one out in a family of jolly, stout people. The mother and sister wished to reduce their weight, while the painfully thin one wanted to be as buxom as the others. A little Kelp taken twice daily resulted in the stout ones losing weight and the thin one putting on several pounds of healthy tissue. She also became much more composed and content (Powell:32+).
Kelp has been around almost since the beginning of time and references to it can be found in several books of ancient Chinese poetry, written sometime between 800 and 600 B.C. In one particular poem, a housewife is referred to as cooking seaweed and in later Chinese history it is mentioned as a delicacy worth being offered to the gods as a sacrificial food. Several kinds of seaweed were used in ancient China and this practice of eating seaweed still continues strong in the Orient today.
The plants of the sea are almost exclusively algae. They form a group that stands low in the scale of life. Their commoner name--seaweeds--is a poor one unless we remember Emerson's definition, that a weed is a plant whose use is not known. Even with our present scanty knowledge of sea life, some valuable qualities are already credited to the algae, and the Science of oceanography is discovering many others (Smithsonian:167).
The conditions of the sea where the algae grow are remarkably uniform; the salinity does not vary much, the temperature remains mostly the same, and they must undergo only slight strain from winds and currents. To meet these stresses we find superb engineering shown in the structure of such land plants as our trees; the buttressed bases, the sturdiness of their vertical trunks, the fine tapering and elasticity of their limbs and twigs. But in the sea plants, we do not need such devices, where the plants have almost the same specific gravity as the water, or in the case of some algae, even less, by reason of air bladders distributed through their tissues. Strength is the least thing needed in marine plant life and the one least often met with, as our idea of the stormy rage of the ocean is literally a superficial one. In the waters beneath the stormy sea one may find calm and quiet, so that many a gale that wrecks a ship may not dislodge the most delicate algae growing on rocks beneath the surface (Ibid.).
Kelp is one of the brown algae. They have no roots, but instead cling to stones, wharves or pilings with holdfasts (RodC:711). They do not have stalks or branches, nor really any special parts of the plant for support or for conducting nourishment from one part of the plant to another. The leaf-like structures are not the same as we have in the land plants; they do not manufacture food for the rest of the plant to eat. In seaweeds, almost every part of the plant can make its own food. Seaweeds have nothing that looks like flowers, fruit or seeds (Ibid.).
They grow tall, some of the largest Kelp stretching up for a hundred feet or more from the floor of the ocean. Pillars of full-grown Kelp can contain fifty or more densely packed fronds, all rising to a canopy at the surface. Underwater, the Kelp beds look like shadowy forests, attracting countless marine animals. The brown seaweeds, notably Kelp, are incorporated into flour and are used in almost every household in Japan as noodles, toasted and served with rice or in soup. Other kinds of seaweed are used for sweetening and flavoring and relishes, beverages and cakes. In Ireland, Wales, Denmark and Scotland, seaweeds are often eaten. The Irish eat Dulse, which we will discuss below, called "sea lettuce" because it is tender, crisp, with a taste comparable to land lettuce. Kelp is considered to be the first form of life on our planet. The seaweeds of today have developed considerably from primitive times, but even so they retain many of their early characteristics. They are not nearly so complicated as the land plants that came so much later (RodC:712).
Kelp contains the complete spectrum of minerals needed by man, as they are contained in the ocean itself. Aside from the fact that sea water as such is a veritable treasure trove of minerals, land minerals are constantly washing into the sea, enriching it still further (Ibid.). Most plants are tested for mineral content by burning the plant and analyzing the ash. Dr. Black said that the ash of seaweed may be from ten percent to as high as fifty percent; that is to say that if you burn seaweed, you may have half the volume left as minerals (Ibid.)! Carrots, in contrast, leave an ash of one percent as minerals. Apples have a mineral ash of .3 percent, almost 3,0 percent, beets 1.1 percent. Even more important than the minerals needed in relatively large amounts, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and so forth, are the trace minerals--iodine, copper, manganese, boron, zinc, etc. These minerals appear in minute quantities in food. Our bodies need only microscopically small amounts of them. Yet if that tiny amount is not there, we can die from the lack. Floods and poor farming practices are causing our soil to be washed away, and with it goes the trace minerals. Applying commercial fertilizer to the soil does not improve the situation, for this does not and cannot contain the trace minerals (Ibid.). What happens to the trace minerals that wash away with the farmlands? They wash into the ocean and are taken up into seaweeds.
One of the most important trace elements in Kelp is iodine. This mineral is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid which manufactures the hormone thyroxin. If an adequate amount of Iodine is not provided in the diet, the thyroid gland is forced to work overtime and becomes enlarged in an effort to make up for the deficiency. This enlargement is known as goiter. In ancient times, the burned ashes of the sea sponge were given to drive out the "evil spirit" which caused the swelling of the neck--but the sponge itself contains iodine, as does Kelp (Luc: 49). Kelp is a much better source of Iodine than the much-touted iodized salt, which is chemically isolated sodium chloride to which potassium chloride has been added. table salt is a drug, according to the Rodale researchers, to which another drug is added. Such a product has no relation to nature, and most of us should not take as much salt as might be needed to supply the needed amount of iodine, anyway. Most of us should take much less salt! Kelp is the ideal source of iodine. To get the daily requirement of 100 micrograms of Iodine estimated as the requirement for human beings: 10 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits, or 8 pounds of cereals, grains and nuts, or 6 pounds of meat, fish, fowl, or 2 pounds of eggs, or 3 pounds of marine fish, or .2 pounds of shellfish. Used as a condiment, Kelp could supply easily the amount required; it contains 10 times as much iodine as American iodized salt (RodC: 716).
Kelp is credited for a number of interesting cures. In the standard way of herbal thinking, Kelp is mainly used as an anti-fat remedy. With a little common sense in dieting, Kelp alone can reduce fat people to more normal proportions. The beauty of using the seaweed is that it can only do good, and never harm. It does not deplete the energy of the body as some reducing programs do; indeed, it strengthens the vital energy by working in cooperating with the endocrine glands. It has been found that there is a definite connection between the amount of energy available and our iodine intake. In Kelp, as we mentioned before, we have a perfectly natural source of all the iodine we require.
Obesity is rare among the Polynesians and other races who incorporate seaweeds as a regular part of their daily diet. This plant influences the mucous membranes and lymphatics. It is a slow, persistent agent, but it will accomplish the desired weight loss results. It is stimulating to the absorbents and especially influences the fatty globules. Its best action is observed in individuals having a cold, torpid, clammy skin and loose flabby rolls of fat. It is an agent that gives better results in sick, overweight people than in cases of healthy, fat people (Luc:50). Instead of being simply a weight loss agent, it is more a normalizer, as thin people can put on weight while taking Kelp.
Kelp is said to be a specific remedy for liver congestion. If you get up in the morning with a sick liver, you will probably feel depressed and out of sorts. The liver is a great influencer of our moods; conversely, however, a morbid state of mind will congest the liver! To be bright and vital one must have an active liver. Kelp is an organ remedy for the liver. It has an affinity for the organ and a direct action upon it. The action of this remedy is to supply the liver with the salts it needs for normal function, and it also has a sweetening and cleansing effect. Very obstinate cases of liver congestion have yielded to treatment with Kelp, as long as a good diet was followed (Powell:21-2).
In connection with the liver, the gall bladder can be cleared from obstructions with Kelp. The highly evolved sodium content of the remedy may play a large part in this action. So many of our illnesses result from constipation, and such a large portion of our population suffers from this ailment! Poisons accumulate in the large bowel and are absorbed back into the bloodstream, causing a host of disorders which are not specific in themselves but stem back to the toxic colon. Many people subscribe to enemas and colonics to cleanse the colon, and Dr. Christopher agreed that these may have a place in an emergency, but they should absolutely never be relied upon. In addition to his formula for toning the colon, Kelp can take an important place doing this job. Because of its high natural mineral salt content, Kelp builds the walls of the colon and the iodine, being highly antiseptic, deals with the toxic condition. For this reason, Kelp can be used in all cases associated with auto toxemia, especially in pregnancy. All constipated people should take Kelp daily, with the addition of blackstrap molasses if needed. Few people are really free from constipation, so almost everyone could benefit from the addition of Kelp to the daily diet (Powell:19).
Kelp is one of the best foods for a sluggish pancreas, as its salts help tune up the whole. If the indigestion one suffers is not linked to the pancreas, often the pyloric valve is not functioning up to par or there may be duodenal ulcers or inflammation. This remedy, while it is not recommended as a specific for such inflammation, is an aid to tone the stomach, aid digestion, and deal with excess stomach acidity; such helps are bound to have a healing effect upon the duodenum. In addition, Kelp is an antacid and can greatly help with chronic indigestion.
In recent years, we have found that the kidneys are not only eliminative organs, they also aid in assimilation and are partly responsible for adequate nutrition (Ibid). Kelp cleanses and tones these organs, and can be especially valuable in cases of irritable or painful kidneys. Dr. Powell cleared up kidney cases that were very stubborn and had failed to respond to other treatments, whether natural or medical.
Kelp is also recommended to tone the prostate gland. It improves the nutrition of the organ and the circulation of the blood through the tissues. It is necessary to take the remedy over a period of time to get the results, however. A seventy year old man was saved having a prostate operation through the persistent use of Kelp (Ibid).
Kelp is also recommended to tone the prostate gland. It improves the nutrition of the organ and the circulation of the blood through the tissues. It is necessary to take the remedy over a period of time to get the results, however. A seventy year old man was saved having a prostate operation through the persistent use of Kelp (Ibid).
Kelp, as might be expected, is also of use in the female organs. It will tone up a weak uterus and help produce a more healthy baby, as the balanced minerals will be supplied fully with the use of Kelp. Some women who had lost babies in childbirth and others who had not been able to carry babies were helped by the use of Kelp by Dr. Powell's prescription of Kelp to carry healthy babies full term. Especially when toxemia threatens during the last stages of the pregnancy, Kelp, being a carrier of important minerals and a toner and an antiseptic, can help clear up an otherwise dangerous condition.
Kelp has been used to help painful testicles and painful menstruation and ovaries. The progress is slow but it is sure, as we are not just treating symptoms but rebuilding the organs.
As mentioned above, Kelp has helped in many cases of headaches. Neck pain and congestion comes from various causes, but whatever the case, Dr. Powell found it unusual to locate a case in which Kelp could not be helpful. This also applies in cases of migraine.
Kelp is an arterial cleansing agent and gives tone to the walls of the blood vessels. It is helpful in some cases of arterial tension (high blood pressure). Practitioners believe that it helps to remove deposits from the walls of the arteries and restore their elasticity, thereby lengthening life (Powell:17). Sufferers from low blood pressure can also have this condition normalized with the use of Kelp. Most nervous disorders result from a deficiency of certain cell salts, so we can correctly term nervous disorders "deficiency diseases". Kelp can considerably help balance the system and correct the problems. Dr. Powell helped a lady who could not sleep because of "nerves". She responded to the use of Kelp. An elderly gentlemen with a nervous heart and very frightened about his condition responded to Kelp after many weeks on the remedy. The older you are, Dr. Powell said, the longer you have to take Kelp for remedial purposes. It has no drug action itself but helps rebuild the weakened organs. One of the functions of iodine is to bring calmness to the mind and body by relieving nervous tension. When nervous tension is marked, there is excitability and irritation, sleeping becomes difficult, and there is a drain on the vitality (Powell:14). Kelp reduces tension, produces relaxation and enables the system to store up vitality and reserve energy; concentration becomes easier owing to the freer flow of blood through the brain and it is easier to think clearly (Ibid.).
Kelp can be of great help in Arthritis and rheumatism. These are due to an excess of certain acids in the system, and are usually associated with faulty kidney function plus a deficiency of the sodium salts. Orthodox medicine treats this problem with massive doses of sodium compounds to counteract acidity. Unfortunately this overdosing ruins the digestion and the kidney functions; arterial disease may also result. Sufferers from these conditions should limit their intake of acid forming foods, such as sugar, white flour products, and overcooked foods. They should eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables--and Kelp--which will help de-acidify the system and provide the necessary salts as well.
There has never been found a cure for the common cold, but Kelp is known to be a help in overcoming colds and coughs. Those who suffer from these have a cell salt deficiency, and they also lack sufficient iodine; this is not to say that a dose of Kelp will get rid of a cold, but the constant use of Kelp should help increase resistance to these maladies and in time the system should become free of them.
Kelp contains alginic acid, which combines with metallic elements in the intestines to form insoluble salts which can then be excreted from the body. Lead enters our bodies from the polluted environment (water, air, food) in which we live. For instance children are known to eat lead based paint. If you regularly eat Kelp, the lead can combine with the alginic acid to form lead alginate which can then be excreted. Oriental peoples who eat large amounts of sea vegetables are known to have more immunity to certain diseases that are prevalent in the western world (Rose:Herbal:80).
We often hear about test findings that residues of strontium 90 fallout are close to the maximum permissible level in milk, or that sometimes it has been exceeded and the milk condemned. This fallout often enters the bones and causes leukemia. It also unfortunately possesses a strong affinity to some of the most nutritious foods we have. Green salad vegetables, for instance, can accumulate a large amount of strontium 90 under certain weather conditions. In fact, any food that is high in calcium will have a tendency to store this radioactivity. Many people saturate their systems with calcium in order to bind the strongtium 90 and to excrete some of it. Yet Kelp has a definite protective effect and will significantly reduce the amount of strontium 90 absorbed in our bones (RodC:708).
This knowledge came from the Gastrointestinal Research Laboratories of McGill University in Montreal and was published Medical World News in July 3, 1964. Three doctors, after conducting a laboratory investigation on rats as test animals, found that completely nontoxic Kelp contains a chemical substance--sodium alginate--that reduces absorption of strontium 90 from the intestines by as much as 50 to 80 percent (Ibid.).
In another experiment, strontium 90 and sodium alginate were given to rats in their drinking water. They found that these animals showed a sixty percent drop in the blood levels of strontium 90 and a seventy-five percent decrease in bone absorption! This is such significant news in our world which is absolutely polluted with the radioactive fallout that was released on the world in bomb tests several years ago, not to mention the fallout that could occur should nuclear war become a reality. Kelp is able to discriminate between strontium 90 and calcium, even though the two chemicals are so similar chemically, and the Kelp does not interfere with the body's absorption of calcium while it effectively removes the radioactive element (Ibid.).
Max Gerson, in his very effective treatment of cancer, found that almost all seriously ill persons were very deficient in potassium. He supplemented his cancer patients' diets with significant amounts of potassium, usually in a liquid concentrate. A cancer patient we know learned that both the seaweeds Kelp and Dulse are the highest in potassium among all foods and herbs. He mixed a brew of Kelp, apple cider vinegar and honey and took a large amount of it in his daily cancer regime, which also utilized raw juices, fruits and vegetables, and herbs. He found that this was a potent--albeit somewhat unpleasant tasting!--source of potassium and other trace minerals. Gerson also employed iodine in his cancer treatment and Kelp is high in this element. We cannot, of course, claim that Kelp is a cancer cure. But it is a powerful source of necessary elements for healing. Gerson found that the seriously ill person might take many months, even a year or two, to balance his potassium level. If the blood samples show a great deal of potassium in the blood, this is misleading, for the body is not assimilating the mineral and it is passing out of the system. If the levels are low, this might actually be a good thing, as the potassium is being absorbed in the body and not being eliminated. At any rate, there seems to be a correlation between illness, stress and potassium levels; during menstruation and pregnancy, for example, the need for potassium skyrockets. If a person is taking an adequate amount of Kelp in his diet, this amount of potassium might help him stand the strains of the stresses or illnesses he might have.
We have mentioned the iodine in Kelp as being necessary to treat thyroid gland trouble, but we might explain the function a bit more. The Greeks ate sea plants to cure goiter, but it was not until 1849 that Chatin established a connection between iodine deficiency and goiter. Later, iodine was discovered in the thyroid and it was found that in people suffering from goiter there was an iodine deficiency. Goiter has been produced in animals by feeding them on foods lacking in iodine, and females fed on iodine-free foods have produced offspring with goiters. By administering iodine, the animals were cured (Powell:29).
Too much iodine may produce overactivity of the thyroid which leads to mental excitement and emotionalism, so small doses of iodine products are best. However, Kelp is not known to have produced hyperthyroidism, which may be due to the fact that the iodine in Kelp is only a part of a highly organized arrangement of salts. The thyroid performs many vital functions in the body. It secretes thyroxin, controls and regulates metabolism, vitalizes every cell of the body and enables the cells to respond to sympathetic stimulation, assists in the control of tissue differentiation, increases the power and rate of heart function, controls coagulation time, increases urea and fluid secretion, stimulates and brightens the mind, controls and regulates body fat, controls intestinal activity, aids the function of the pancreas, helps to harmonize the activity of the suprarenal glands, has a regulating influence on the ovaries and testicles, works in cooperation with the parathyroids, thereby regulating the action of mineral salts in the system, especially of calcium, acts in conjunction with the pituitary gland, thereby exerting a profound influence on metabolism in general--a large order! This gland influences nearly the entire body (Powell:31). Hypofunction of the thyroid produces lassitude of mind and body, cretinism in children, slow growth in children, delayed maturity, obesity, female troubles, dry skin, dry lusterless hair and kidney disorders. Hyperfunction of the gland produces a completely opposite picture: oversensitivity, mental alertness, emotionalism and overactivity (Ibid.). People who find they suffer from any of these ailments related to the thyroid get relief from Kelp, which supplies iodine and other trace minerals which will balance the thyroid and the entire system.
The late Dr. Guyon Richards, a great proponent of Kelp, discussed "reversed polarity" in the automatic nervous system, saying that when such a condition exists it is hell for the sufferer. For such a condition he advised Kelp. When neurasthenias and other nerve sufferers are miserable, they are advised to take small doses of "this humble weed from the sea" (Powell:37).
Jeanne Rose seems to sum it up: "Kelp, used internally, cleanses the body through the external openings such as the sweat glands, seems to have beneficial effects on the reproductive organs, and gives tone to the walls of the blood vessels. It is used for goiter, for smooth skin, sturdy fingernails, and shiny hair, and as a diuretic in obesity. It seems to restore the healthy functioning of the body...I have used it extensively and in small doses it seems to work; however, when I used it like salt, in larger quantities, it caused me to break an incredible amount of Kelp-smelling wind" (Rose:Herbs:73).
Kelp is most used around the world as a food and as a wonderful land-building fertilizer. Along with the other brown seaweeds, Kelp is used as food for many peoples around the world. In Japan, it comprises as much as one-fourth of the everyday diet, used in broths and as garnishes and ingredients in traditional foods. As the Japanese prepare the seaweeds, they are extremely delicious; our children often beg for the Nori preparation, which is thin sheets of the brown seaweed. Dr. Black said there may be present in the intestinal tracts of the Japanese people a specialized bacterial flora, giving the seaweeds a greater nutritional value. The bacterial flora are the beneficial bacteria which live in the intestines and manufacture certain vitamins there, as well as helping in the digestion of food. Dr. Black says that in digestibility tests with cattle it has been found that when seaweed is first introduced into the diet, it is completely undigested and appears unaltered in the feces. After a few days, however, no seaweed is found in the feces. So it seems that the bacteria in the intestines have an important part in the digestion of seaweed. In Japan it appears that children develop the proper intestinal bacteria since they are fed seaweed products since infancy (RodC:710).
Kelp is a valuable manure for potatoes and other crops and is gathered all along the British coast. It is largely used in the Channel Islands, where it is called Vraic, the early potatoes from Jersey being grown by seaweed manure. Fresh seaweed contains 20 to 40 pounds of potash to the ton, and dried seaweed 60 to 230 pounds, so that its collection and use were strongly recommended to farmers during World War II when there was such a shortage of commercial fertilizers (Gri:112). It may be spread on the land and left for some time before plowing in, but should not be left in heaps, as rotting liberates the potash, which might then go to waste. Organic gardeners who live close to oceans might well utilize Kelp in their gardens for a marvelous source of all the trace elements. It is somewhat expensive for inland farmers, yet a small sprinkling added to the garden might go a long way in balancing the nutritional contents of foods. Indeed, added to the compost heap it might interact with other ingredients to make a potent addition to the garden soil.
The early broccoli from Cornwall in Britain is fertilized with Kelp, and on the west coast of Ireland, driftweed is almost the only manure used for raising potatoes. In the Channel Islands it is used for producing the smoke for drying bacon and fish, while in the Hebrides, cheeses are covered with the salty ashes of the seaweed, and horses, cattle and sheep have been fed with it. Back in 1920, a man named Philip Park was startled to see cattle passing over rich, lush grass so that they could feed on Kelp. He investigated the food content of this seaweed and went into business to produce it for animal food and human consumption. At his nonprofit research organization, experiments are carried on to find out more uses for this plant (RodC:711).
During World War II, the French Ministry of War experimented with regard to the value of seaweed as food for horses. A herd of twenty fed on the usual ration of oats and fodder gained eleven kilograms less in two months than a similar number fed on the same weight of seaweed. Another trial resulted in the cure of some sick horses fed on seaweed, while others fed on oats remained out of health (Gri:112).
In Denmark, the possibility of making paper from seaweed was tried, but the cost of collecting proved too serious an obstacle. It is possible that considerable quantities of alcohol might be obtained from various species. Tests on Kelp show that anaerobic bacteria--that is, bacteria free of oxygen--will react with harvested Kelp in airtight conditions to produce methane. Methane is the principle component of natural gas. In other words, Kelp from the sea could come in quite handy in days of energy shortages.
Now researchers want to find out whether Kelp can be grown artificially in the deeper waters of the sea, far from shore, where there would be plenty of room to establish Kelp farms. An experiment is underway off the California coast near Newport Beach, wherein there's been a Kelp planting about 50 feet below the ocean's surface, and about 100 feet in diameter. The Kelp plants are anchored to stainless steel and nylon rope which is strung around the steel ribs of something which looks like a huge upended umbrella. A pipe, two feet in diameter, plunges fifteen hundred feet into the sea beneath the Kelp farm. It brings up nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates from the rich ocean bed to fertilize the Kelp and maintain growth. If the results are promising, the next step will be a bigger Kelp farm, possibly as large as ten acres. Kelp was chosen among seaweeds because it is prolific and its roots can be easily anchored. Kelp grows as much as two feet in a single day. The nutrients it uses come from sea water and the energy for growth comes from the sun. It manufactures its food in the same way as land plants, in the manufacture of chlorophyll, although the green color is usually hidden under some thin overlying pigment, brown in the case of Kelp. If these experiments continue successful, Kelp might provide a viable source of methane to help people become independent from petroleum and natural gas. As one scientist said, "The sea's the limit" (Associated Press, Phoenix, Arizona, 1979).
Kelp used to be the source of commercial iodine, and there were Kelp-burning plants to produce it. It is now a dead industry, as there is a cheaper process of obtaining it from the mother-liquors obtained in the purification of Chile saltpetre. The use of Kelp as a source of alkalies for soap and glass manufacture has been rendered obsolete by the modern process of obtaining carbonate of soda cheaply from common salt. It might be well to remember these processes, however, if the time should come that the other substances are not easily handled.
Used for the thyroid, for weight loss and gain, severe headaches, malnutrition, nervous conditions, dyspepsia, digestive problems, constipation, for a toxic colon, for liver, gall bladder, kidney and meninges, for a sluggish pancreas, for cold, torpid or clammy skin, for liver congestion, for gall bladder obstructions, for toxemia in pregnancy, for excess stomach acidity, as an antiacid, to tone the kidney, for the prostate, for arterial cleansing, high blood pressure, nervous tension, Arthritis and rheumatism, for colds, cough, cancer, goiter, female troubles, dry skin, and for strong nails and shiny hair.
COLLECTION, CULTIVATION, PREPARATION
Kelp is harvested by special boats equipped with a great hook which pulls the plant up out of the sea. Special cutters then mow off the tops of the Kelp plants which are carried back to the boat on a conveyor belt arrangement. The Kelp commonly sold for health food consumption is gathered far off the coast from pure, deep waters to reduce as much as possible the contamination by pollution. At the processing plant ashore, the Kelp is chopped fine, dried, sterilized, and shredded. There is no boiling or draining off of water. Everything in the way of minerals remains in the original plant. Kelp plants are so vigorous in growth that plants cut to a depth of four feet will reach the surface of the sea again within forty-eight to sixty hours (RodC:711).
Kelp can be used in many ways in the diet and as a supplement. By far the easiest use of Kelp is in tablets, which one can buy and take with a glass of water. Since the taste of Kelp is not pleasant to everyone at first, Kelp as a condiment should be added gradually to the diet. It is good sprinkled on buttered popcorn in place of salt. It can be added to soups and broths without a great change in flavor. It can be added to salads or salad dressings, especially herb dressings. It can be sprinkled on cottage cheese or on baked potatoes. You can mix it half-and-half with your salt or, if your family is suspicious of the color, with your pepper for table use. You can add it to bread or cookies, especially to rye products, as it blends very well with the flavor. You can add it to the Green Drink although it changes the flavor somewhat.
If you make a blend of various culinary herbs as a salt substitute, Kelp can be added without too much effect on the flavor. We find that adding Kelp slowly but surely into the diet gives the medicinal effects without raising too much complaining from the family!
In Britain, special preparations of Kelp are sometimes made. Sea-pod liniment is the expressed juice and decoction of the fresh seaweed as dispensed by seaside pharmacists for rheumatism and as an anti-fat aid. Sea-pod essence is rubbed onto sprains and bruises. A wine made from grapes and Kelp is praised as a remedy for diseases of the hips and other joints, and bones in children (Gri:114). Kelp can be made into infusion, decoction, or liquid extract, although the taste is somewhat strong.
In discussing the problems related to the uses of Kelp, one author recognizes that Kelp products vary widely in their iodine content and that it is not a reliable source of the mineral. Since precise doses are not available, it is not recommended by this author, who claims that in addition to the problems of dosage, Kelp tastes bad (Tyler:488). It certainly is an acquired taste, but used judiciously, Kelp can be a tolerable addition to the diet.
The alginates in Kelp are used as thickening and smoothing elements in the food and manufacturing industries.
Fucus nodosus, the Knobbed Wrack, has a narrower thallus, without a midrib and single vesicles.
F. serratus, the Black Wrack, has a veined and serrate front, without vesicles. Both contain the same constituents as Kelp.
F. serratus has much been used in Norway as cattle feed, being there called cow-weed. Linnaeus stated that in Gothland the inhabitants boiled it with water, mixed with a little coarse meal or flour, and fed their hogs with it, for which reason they called the plant "Swine-tang". In Sweden the poor people covered their cottages with it and sometimes used it for fuel.
F. amylaceus, or Ceylon Moss, abounding in starch and vegetable jelly, is used like Irish Moss.
F. Helminthocorton, or Corsican Moss, is regarded in Europe as an anthelmintic and febrifuge.
As we have mentioned, Kelp has an extremely high mineral content. It is also a rich source of Vitamin B-12, which is often difficult for the pure vegetarian to obtain. Two or three ounces of the seaweed daily might be sufficient to provide the daily requirement for someone who eats no foods of animal origin.
Even the most avid opponents of herbs can find no toxicity in the chemicals contained in Kelp. It can be used with utmost safety and confidence!