Fucoidan the “miracle nutrient”? is a sulfated polysaccharide found mainly in various species of brown seaweed such as kombu, limu moui, bladderwrack, wakame, mozuku, and hijiki (variant forms of fucoidan have also been found in animal species, including the sea cucumber)
Beginning around 1970 researchers began studying fucoidan, and since that time fucoidan has been cited in over 700 studies published in the National Library of Medicine’s data base. www.pubmed.com The overall findings of this body of research, coupled with evidence provided by a long history of use of the fucoidan-bearing seaweed in areas such as Tonga, Hawaii and Japan indicates that fucoidan might be used as a safe, nutritional answer to a wide variety of health complaints.
Historical medicinal uses of seaweed are vast and ranged from topical burn and goiter therapy to the softening of tumors. These ancient civilizations may not have known that it was the fucoidan contained in these plants that gave them their beneficial properties, but they did know the plants offered powerful healing benefits.
The renowned longevity and good health of the Tongan people, especially statistically lower incidences of cancers and other diseases that plague the Western world, has piqued the interest of the medical and scientific communities who are keen to unlock the secret of this gift from the sea.
By absorbing trace minerals and vitamins from the nourishing waters, limu moui contains no less than 77 nutrients, including C, E and multiple B vitamins, selenium, beta-carotene, protein, iodine, calcium and iron. But the key ingredient of limu that is attracting the most attention is an essential sugar compound?a polysaccharide or glyconutrient?called fucoidan.
Medical treatments today focus on drugs and surgery, but there is a growing awareness in the health community of the tremendous potential of natural alternatives, especially researched super nutrients like the fucoidan found in limu moui. Fucoidan contains all of the eight simple sugars. These simple sugars are necessary for cell-to-cell communication and a healthy immune system. Although these nutrients are essential, there lacking in most of our diets.
There are two studies out of Canada that show fucoidan may be a potential therapy for Alzheimer?s disease. One study showed that fucoidan inhibited the advancement of several chronic degenerative diseases, including hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack (myocardial infarction) and Alzheimer?s disease.
Fucoidan has potent anticoagulant and antithrombin activities that prevent harmful blood clots from forming in blood vessels. This is important because right now the drugs used to treat and prevent clot formation are difficult to use and can be downright dangerous if not monitored closely. This is one of the most studied areas for fucoidan with at least 50 studies on the subject as evidenced by a National Library of Medicine Pub Med search.
The use of fucoidan as a possible new cancer therapy is a key area of interest in the scientific and medical communities. There are more than 50 studies related to fucoidan and cancer. Glyconutrients are credited with combating breast, gastric and lung cancers, as well as leukemia. Most of the studies are still taking place in animal model, but the exploration is yielding some interesting and potentially therapeutic findings.
Fucoidan?s activity appears to be antiangiogenic. Antiangiogenesis is a hot topic in anti cancer therapy. To put it simply, fucoidan appears to stop the production of new blood vessels in cancerous tumors. We do not want cancerous tumor to make new blood vessels because that supplies them with the food to grow. With that in mind, consider what researchers at Fukuoka University in Japan found after they investigated whether fucoidan could counter cancerous tumors through antiangiogenesis. They found that both natural fucoidan and over-sulfated fucoidan both appear to block blood vessel formation “known as angiogenesis” which usually accompanies the growth of malignant tissue in cancerous tumors.
Cutting off a tumor?s blood supply is just one way of fighting cancer. Another way is to get the cancer cells to die through a process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Apoptosis occurs naturally in the live cycle of a cell, when cancer begins taking over cells and making them grow wildly out of control, or proliferate, rather than dying at their prescribed time. Fucoidan has been found in several studies to promote apoptosis in cancer cells.
Inflammation plays a role in many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimers’s disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and many others. Swedish scientists from Lund University in Malmo found that fucoidan inhibits the adhesion molecules known as P and E selectins, appeared to improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in mice, and points to the crucial role that this type of selectin-inhibition, may play in the treatment of the disease in humans.