- Family Fucaceae
- Fucus vesiculosus
- Kelp, Seawrack/Sea-Wrack, Kelpware/Kelp-Ware, Black-tang, Bladder Fucus, Cutweed, Fucus, Quercus marina, Rockwrack
- Like many sea creatures, this herb is at great risk from heavy metal pollution and should be collected only from areas known to be safe.
- Do not take if suffering from a thyroid illness or obesity without seeking professional advice.
- Do not take if pregnant or breast-feeding.
Native to the shores of the North Atlantic and western Mediterranean, bladderwrack is a brownish-green alga, growing to three feet in length having flat, usually forked, fronds (thalli) containing air bladders. Some ends look grainy; and it is here that the reproductive organs are found. It can be harvested throughout the year.
In the 18th century, iodine was isolated by distilling the long ribbons, or thalli. Bladderwrack was the main source of this for more than fifty years and used to treat goiter, a swelling of the thyroid gland related to an iodine deficiency.
In the 1860s, it was claimed that the herb could counteract obesity by increasing the rate of the metabolism; and, since then, it has been featured in numerous diet remedies.
The herb was also used as a fuel, a winter feed for cattle, and a source of iodine and potash.
- metabolic stimulant
- thyroid tonic
- iodine and other minerals
- volatile oil
- polysaccharides (immune stimulants)
- Thalli (whole plant)
Tincture is taken for thyroid deficiency, as a gentle metabolic stimulant, or for rheumatic conditions.
Infusion is taken for the same reasons as the tincture, as well as for weight reduction if it is linked to a slow metabolism.
Tablets and capsules are taken to stimulate the metabolism.
Infused oil is used externally for arthritic joint pains or rheumatism. To make: macerate 500 g dried herb overnight in 500 g sunflower oil. Heat in a waterbath for two hours, then strain.
Because of its iodine content, bladderwrack is taken as an antigoiter remedy. The plant appears to raise the metabolic rate by increasing hormone production by the thyroid gland, but this increase is limited only to poorly functioning thyroids. However, this should be done only under the guidance of a professional.
It is also thought to be helpful in rheumatic conditions.