Oarweed (Laminaria digitata)
Laminaria digitata, commonly known as Oarweed or Tangleweed, is a glossy leathery brown kelp that anchors itself to rocks in the northern Atlantic. Shaped like the palm of a hand with irregular finger-like extensions, this fascinating seaweed is one of the oldest plants on earth. It doesn’t produce roots or flowers and absorbs its nourishment solely from the sea, making it a treasure trove of natural beneficial ingredients.
It contains Vitamins A, C, D, E, and all the B Vitamins including B12, plus 60 trace minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Where it could be used
In the 18th century it was burnt to extract the potash it contained for use in the glass industry. In the 19th century it was used for the extraction of iodine.
This edible seaweed sold in stores as kelp. It’s long been used in Japan and China for making soups and for other culinary purposes. Extracted alginic acid is used in the food industry for binding, thickening and molding. It is popular in both food, nutritional supplements and cosmetic industries. Oarweed was traditionally used as a fertilizer and spread on the land. It is still used as an organic fertilizer. Oarweed is also used in fish and animal feed and medicine.
Benefits of Oarweed
Its curative powers have been hailed the world over for soothing rashes, burns and swelling.
Polysaccharides in Oarweed give great hydration and elasticity making it a superfood for the skin. It forms a protective outer surface on the skin to hydrate and moisturize. It also stimulates Hyaluronic acid and boosts collagen production for firming effect and cell renewal. It is effective as an anti-ageing and anti-cellulite treatment.
Alginic acid from Oarweed is used by the manufactures of toothpastes and cosmetics.
Oarweed fights skin aging, de-pigmentation & harmful microorganisms.
Historically, the dried stalks of Laminaria digitata, called sea-tangle tents were used as an abortifacient and for inducing labor.
Other properties of Oarweed
Bioative compounds in Oarweed have many interesting properties and their effects have been described in many scientific papers.
- Antiviral properties
- Anti-HIV properties
- Anti-oxidative properties
- Anti-inflammatory agent
- Antibacterial properties against E. coli and Staphylococcus
- Reduction of cholesterol
- Stimulation of immune system
- Prevents Alzheimer
- Decrease of systolic blood pressure
- Protection against irradiation
- Help in wound repairs
Source: Holdt & Kraan 2011 – Bioactive compounds in seaweed: functional food applications and legislation. Journal of Applied Phycology.
Here is a short list of some compounds in Oarweed and their effects.
Beta-Carotene is a pigment and strong antioxidant that has been shown to have many beneficial mental health related benefits as well as aiding in the body’s synthesis of Vitamin A
Taurine is an amino-acid used to maintain regular body functions including managing nervous system excitations.
Alginates are polysaccharides frequently used in the pharmaceutical and culinary industries as a gelling, or thickening agent.
Fucoidan is a polysaccharide shown to reduce hyperplasia, or rapid cell replication.
Laminarin is another polysaccharide that is a glucose-based carbohydrate–a great source of energy.
Mannitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute shown to reduce cellular swelling in your kidneys and brain.
Fucoxanthin is a pigment shown to actually enhance the metabolism of fat.
Iodine is a critical mineral in the production of hormones in the thyroid gland, which help govern many aspects of our health including growth. Too much iodine, however, can lead to ill effects such as goiters.
Calcium is a critical mineral for bone development as well as healthy circulatory functions.
Magnesium is a mineral that is critical not only the growth of bones, but also in maintaining a healthy acid/base balance in the digestive tract.
Iron is a mineral that enhances hemoglobins oxygen carrying abilities between cells, thus enhancing overall health and living.