Is the Latest Seaweed Recommendation on The Dr. Oz Show Really Safe?
As part of a segment on natural alternatives to prescription drugs, special guest Dr. Pina LoGiudice ND and Co-Medical Director of Inner Source Health, recommends to viewers of The Dr. Oz Show that a seaweed commonly referred to as “Bladderwrack” can be used to treat cases of low thyroid gland function known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism affects millions of people in the U.S. and causes symptoms that include feeling tired and/or cold all the time, hair and memory loss, brittle nails and hair, and leg swelling. Hypothyroidism typically results from an underactive thyroid gland
The thyroid is often referred to as “The Master Hormone” that controls pretty much everything in the human body. A deficiency in iodine (as well as growing older) is one of the major reasons why the thyroid gland either begins to slow down or ceases to release the necessary amount of thyroid hormone needed to keep the body running efficiently. Other causes of hypothyroidism include prescription medications such as Lithium and corticosteroids, some pain medications, antihistamines, and antidepressants.
Because the human body cannot create its own source of iodine, we must either get our iodine from foods that have naturally occurring iodine, season our meals with iodized eat, or take prescription medications.
On a recent segment of The Dr. Oz Show titled “Natural alternatives to prescription drugs that drug companies do not want you to know about,” Dr. Oz brings in special guest Dr. Pina LoGiudice who states that one alternative to prescription drugs for treating hypothyroidism is from a species of seaweed named “Fucus vesiculous” or more commonly—Bladderwrack.
Bladderwrack comes from an ancient heritage of seaweed species that evolved distinctive air sacs that reportedly lift water plant fronds upward toward the water’s surface in competition with other plants in gaining access to sunlight for photosynthesis.
Bladderwrack seaweed grows in both the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans and is nutrient–rich, possessing significant amounts of magnesium, potassium and micronutrients. More importantly, however, Bladderwrack also contains significant amounts of iodine and was used as the original source of iodine in the early 1800's to treat goiter—a swelling of the thyroid gland secondary to a lack of iodine.
In the 1900's, Europeans used Bladderwrack as a thyroid stimulant believing that it increases a person’s metabolism. Today, Bladderwrack is claimed to have numerous curative properties and may cause weight loss. However, little scientific evidence supports these claims, although some studies have supported the claim that Bladderwrack can be used to treat pre-menopausal women with abnormal menstrual cycling patterns.
According to Dr. Pina LoGiudice, taking Bladderwrack is her top recommendation for people who have hypothyroidism and that her recommended dose is 3 grams per day taken in the morning. However, she also recommends that before taking Bladderwrack, that people should have their blood thyroid hormone levels measured.
So, is taking Bladderwrack safe for everyone? Not necessarily so, say multiple traditional and alternative medicine sources.
One of the problems with taking Bladderwrack is that the shores where Bladderwrack is found are often heavily polluted with arsenic and heavy metal contaminates that can accumulate and cause organ damage over time. One recommendation is that you should check the labels of your Bladderwrack supplements to make sure it was harvested in clean water and is contaminant-free.
Collecting or buying Bladderwrack is also problematic in that the level of iodine in each plant can differ significantly and could lead to overdosing yourself, which in turn can alter thyroid hormone levels and lead to abnormal thyroid function.
Another caution is that some individuals can develop an allergic reaction to Bladderwrack. Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
• Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
• Chest pain
• Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin
According to heath care providers, Bladderwrack should not be taken if:
• You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
• You have a thyroid problem known as hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone)
• You are allergic to iodine.
• You are trying to become pregnant.
• You are scheduled for surgery in the next two weeks due to some studies showing that Bladderwrack could increase the risk of bleeding.
As always, if ever in doubt and have questions about taking alternatives to prescription drugs--see your physician first. Dr. Oz cautions his viewers that if they are already taking prescription medication for any condition, that they should not stop taking it and switch to one of the recommended alternatives on his show without first going to their doctor and asking if the alternative is the right choice for treating their particular condition.
Follow this link to an article about a recent scientific finding about a seaweed drink that may be the answer to fighting obesity.
Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia
Reference: The Dr. Oz Show