Kelp

Latin names: Thallus algae, Laminaria japonica Aresch.
Chinese name: kun bu
Other names: laminaria, kelp thallus, kombu (Japanese)

What is Kelp?
Kelp is large seaweed that grows among underwater forests in clear, shallow ocean waters. It grows along coastlines around the world and is known to grow very fast. Kelp, or kombu, is an important ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It flavors broths, stews, and rice dishes, and is a primary ingredient in snack foods. Kelp softens beans when cooking them and helps convert indigestible sugars, which reduces flatulence.

What are the health benefits of Kelp?

Kelp is a rich natural source of vitamins and minerals. Kelp is especially high in iodine, which is essential for proper glandular function and metabolism. It contains iron, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Kelp is also a source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, and E, plus amino acids. Because kelp’s nutrients come in a natural form, they are easily absorbed and used by the body. Kelp is also a great salt substitute.

Kelp has two major medicinal functions: it reduces nodules and promotes urination. Kelp reduces phlegm and softens the hard nodules that are created as a result of phlegm building up in nodes. It is used to treat goiter, scrofula, and thyroid diseases. It helps hypothyroidism caused by a lack of iodine and reduces the symptoms of hyperthyroidism for the short term. The high iodine content, which is metabolized slowly by the body, is thought to be the reason for its usefulness in thyroid disorders. Kelp also has a mild diuretic effect and reduces swelling and water retention. Studies have also shown that kelp has anti-asthmatic and anti-cough effects. It is also known to improve metabolism and boost immune health. Some other ailments that kelp is used to treat include poor digestion and circulation, inflammation, and arthritis.

More information about the healing powers of Seaweed can be found in the Food section.

Where can I find Kelp?
Good quality kelp is thick, and can be found in many grocery stores, Asian markets, health food stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medical practitioners.

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This entry was posted in Foods, Herbs, Natural Health Dictionary.