Scientific: Fucus vesiculosus [WikiPedia]
Composition: Rich in algin, mannitol, carotene, and zeaxanthing, also contains polysaccharides, polyphenols and volatile oils
Appearance: Kelp (Bladder wrack) is a brown algae from the genus Fucus. It is widespread along the coastlines of most parts of the world. The best-known kelp is F. vesiculosus. Some varieties of kelp are used to make a tea and can be used in the same way as “kombu” (Japanese kelp). The youngest and outermost shoots of the seaweed are very tasty. Fucus is dried and sold as granules, small branches or powder. It has a strong iodine taste and is very salty. It can be incorporated in cooked dishes and soups and sprinkled in salads.
Parts Used: The roots and tubers
Common Uses: Seaweeds (kelp) have been documented to contain many of the essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. For many years, seaweeds have also been cultivated and utilized directly as food for humans or as feed to produce food for human consumption. Since seaweeds grow in many climatic conditions globally, their cultivation has minimal impact on the environment. Kelp contains 46 minerals, 16 amino acids and 11 vitamins.
Kelp’s mucilaginous thallus has been used to soothe irritated and inflamed tissues. It was also historically used as a bulk-forming laxative. People living near oceans or seas have a historically low rate of hypothyroidism, in part because of ingestion of iodine-rich food such as seafood and seaweeds like bladderwrack. It has also been used to counter obesity, possibly because of its reputation for stimulating the thyroid gland. Clinical research in this area has failed to confirm that seaweeds like bladderwrack help with weight loss. Horses, cattle, and sheep have been fed with it. During the second World War, it was valued as a food for horses; it increased weight gain and improved the health of sick horses. It is interesting to note that fucus has a high digestibility and protein content.
Good quality kelp average about 25% protein and 2% fat. They are one of the richest sources of minerals and amino acids found in a plant source as we have highlighted above. Their dense amounts of nutrients are thought to help produce energy, enhance the immune system, and darken coat color and skin pigment. Kelp is also rich in iodine and support the endocrine glands (thyroid function). Kelp provide many health benefits and promote longevity in animals. Some studies have shown that kelp may be helpful in reducing cancer and they are thought to contain anti-tumor properties. It is also believed they may fight heavy metal accumulations in the body by binding to them and may be helpful after cancer treatments. Kelp is also high in tryptophan, which is also helpful in fighting cancer. While kelp may taste salty, it is actually low in salt and are often used as a salt substitute for conditions requiring low sodium diets. There are also new studies showing kelp may be helpful for diabetes and heart conditions. Some of the key features of these foods for dogs is the high mineral content, phytonutrients, colour enhancement for hair coats and pigment, energy builders, immune enhancers, digestibility, thyroid support and potential cancer protection.
Main benefits of kelp include:
- Kelp supplements have been found to reduce dental plaque and tarter build-up in dogs. Swedish studies have shown that kelp supplements reduce dental plaque and tarter build-up in dogs within a few weeks. Some English research indicates the effect may be due to a bacteria, Bacillus lichenformis that resides on the surfaces of the kelp and releases an enzyme that breaks down the plaque coating on the teeth.
- Kelp is rich in iodine. Iodine is a chemical element necessary (at least in trace amounts) to prevent a condition called hypothyroidism in dogs (it is called goiter in human beings). If your dog becomes listless, develops a limp or coordination problems, or in extreme conditions, develops a tumorous growth where the thyroid gland should be, it could be hypothyroidism. The iodine-deprived thyroid gland can result in a whole range of nervous problems as well as developmental disabilities in dogs.
- Kelp contains a rich natural mix of salts and minerals. The mix of salts and minerals (including iodine, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium) in Kelp help keep the dog’s entire glandular system, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland, as well as the thyroid gland, the glands that regulate metabolism, healthy. When the glands don’t function property, the dog may fail to develop normally, the anal gland may function improperly causing unpleasant odours. Kelp can be just what you need to reduce the incidence of nasty smell in your house.
- Kelp reduces itchiness and skin conditions. There is substantial evidence that kelp in the dog’s diet will repel fleas. Kelp can be an important natural addition to the organic or chemical flea-fighting treatment you have chosen for your dog. Kelp reduces itchiness in dogs with skin allergies and improves the general condition of skin and coat. If your dog has itchy skin and seems always to be scratching, kelp supplements may make your dog’s life a lot more pleasant.
- Kelp is high in iron and calcium. It can supplement other nutrients in food to prevent iron deficiency and improve the ability of the blood to distribute oxygen to the cells. Dogs on Kelp supplements may heal from injury faster because of the iron enrichment. The calcium may help prevent arthritis and bone conditions.
- Kelp contains natural amino acids. The amino acids, especially glycine, alanine, arginine, proline, glutamic, and aspartic acids in natural kelp supplement may support tissue repair. The Japanese have long maintained that eating seaweed (which is customary in Japan) improves longevity.
Topic Specific References:
- Nutritional and digestive health benefits of seaweed [PubMED]
- Safe Use of Herbal Kelp Supplements [PubMED]
- Learn more about Fucus vesiculosus [ScienceDirect]
- Phycochemical Constituents and Biological Activities of Fucus spp [PubMED]
- In many of our pre-made meals and herbal blends.
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.