The Healing Benefits of Seaweed Bathing

Outside- The Body

I have talked already about the many benefits to the inside of your body by eating seaweed. What about the benefits to outside your body? Legend has long had it that taking a dip in the sea can work wonders for your health. As far back as 400BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was advocating saltwater and heated seaweed baths for curing a variety of bodily ailments.

Go to the ocean to heal– is a quote ascribed to Hippocrates.

Seaweed has been in use for thousands of years, in diet, science and bathing, it boasts a myriad of nutrients, amino acids, and antioxidants that are associated with skin health and beauty. As skin is the largest organ in the body it gives the maximum surface through which its natural source of minerals, vitamins and amino acids in seaweed can be fully absorbed. Seaweed takes the nutrients in the water in a similar way to the way our bodies do, it balances and purifies the ocean through its growth and chemistry. So, bathing in the weeds of the sea can be healthy, balancing and nourishing for the skin and body. Acting as an emoillant which locks in moisture. Our skin is constantly plagued by harmful environmental effects that can speed up the skin’s aging process. Research suggests that seaweed has a revitalizing effect on the skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to induce blood flow to the skin. A hot seaweed bath is like a wet-steam sauna: the greens from the sea balance body chemistry without dehydrating it. The electromagnetic action of the seaweed acts as a diuretic to release excess body fluids from congested cells. So dissolves fatty wastes through the skin, replacing them with minerals, especially iodine, which boosts thyroid activity. Seaweed is rich in B, C, E and K vitamins, niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. Vitamin K boosts adrenal activity, which can help maintain hormone balance for a more youthful body. Scientific studies have confirmed that seaweed bathing helps lower body stress and back pain. Skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne are relieved and soothed. It has also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of muscle aches and joint stiffness helping in combating rheumatism and arthritis.

  In 1904 French scientist Rene Quinton published the medical work L’eau de Mer, Millen Organique which translates as Sea Water Organic Medium. Quinton’s study indicated that sea water and human plasma, Blood and Lymph fluid, are almost identical in their composition of mineral salts, proteins and various other elements. Seaweed is one of nature’s sponges so absorbs minerals from the sea. In a bath where seaweed and seawater are infused the mineral concentration within the infusion is much greater than in the water alone. ( This would occur in a treatment bath)

Many people in countries like Ireland and France, where it grows in abundance, have long used seaweed to keep the skin clean, moisture-rich, and rejuvenated. Natural skincare and body care has evolved, but one thing remains true, we still make use of the raw ingredients around us, often using plants our ancestors have used for centuries to help to heal the skin and body. Modern thalassotherapy techniques use seawater and seaweed baths and treatments to deliver their potent combination of beauty properties and healing elements.

France still leads the way with many Spas (thalassotherapy) specializing in seaweed treatments, many of which are associated with body toning, slimming and skin imperfections. We are made up of 65% water and water is the basis for our body’s evaporative cooling system. It flushes out toxic wastes, plumps up our cells, and lubricates our moving body parts.

Ireland has had a centuries-old practice of Seaweed bathing. It has fortified generations who relied on its therapeutic benefits to see them through the cold season, helping with aches and pains caused by the damp climate. Spartan seaweed baths were once popular in Ireland many attributing robust health and energy to the traditional cure of a hot seaweed bath. Now it’s much more relaxing, with many Spas and Hotels offering this service. The Ice House, in Mayo, has the Chill Spa with lovely products created by it has an outdoor seaweed bath on the deck overlooking the river and is pure luxury. Voya Seaweed Baths is based in the coastal village of Strandhill in County Sligo they offer detoxifying seaweed baths and treatments utilising the natural power of their organic hand-harvested, wild seaweed. For full details of bathing treatments and products visit:

The seaweed used for bathing in Ireland is a wrack called Fucus Serratus, also known as serrated wrack and Fucus Vesiculosus known as Bladder wrack, belonging to the brown seaweed family. Wracks are large seaweeds growing on rocky shores in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America. This seaweed has a high mineral content, and is rich in sulphur, iodine and natural oils.

It is possible to try seaweed treatments and baths at home and there are many great companies selling products that are both therapeutic and relaxing. Look for organic and natural companies where possible. Think how great you feel after walking on the beach and having a dip in the sea. A seaweed bathing regimen is thought to have a significant impact on our health and well-being as well as pure relaxation after a busy day.

Well I am totally convinced are you?

The Benefits of Seaweed- Inside and Outside

Inside- Edible

As I mentioned in my last blog post there are huge benefits to bathing with seaweed, however there are also has great benefits for inside as well as outside your body as seaweed holds a reputation as a nutrient-rich superfood. Seaweed or sea vegetables are forms of algae that grow in the sea and are found along rocky shorelines around the world. Its full of vitamins and protein as well as been low-calorie, crunchy and salty so is both nutritious and tasty. Seaweed has long been a staple of many Asian diets particularly in Japanese cuisine but has become increasing popular among health-conscious eaters for the fact that it’s plant-based and high in protein, it has as much calcium as milk, depending on the type of seaweed so is perfect for a vegan diet. Seaweed features powerful anti-viral properties that have been shown to guard against the influenza virus so during the cold and flu season it is worth increasing your intake of this marine plant. (Take note, a little goes a long way) It’s extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups and stews, salads, supplements and smoothies. In Brittany, in France, an area which has a kelp forest called the Lamiariar, fisherman minced seaweed in butter which they called Beurre des Algues they ate this on bread and used it to cook fish.

Research is underway in using an extract called alginate (taken from types of brown seaweed) to add fibre to junk food favourites such as burgers, pies and cake. Adding the seaweed extract could quadruple the amount of fibre in white bread. A low fibre diet in the western world is seen as one of the most harmful dietary problems in staying healthy today.

While there are more than 100 types of edible seaweed, these are the varieties you’ll see the most often:

  1. Nori, think of this as the gateway seaweed. It shows up on sushi rolls and in sheets as seaweed snacks.
  2. Kelp- also known as kombu, kelp is the primary ingredient in dashi, a Japanese stock that forms the base of miso soup. Kelp powder can be added to smoothie’s.
  3. Wakame-is the main component of most seaweed salads and the wide, slippery seaweed found in miso soup.

There are several ways of adding seaweed to your diet; kombu can be added to dried beans. (It helps break down the sugars in beans that cause gas) Kelp can be added to coleslaw. Furikake is a topping that includes sesame seeds and nori and can be added to popcorn, roasted veggies, cooked fish and omelettes. Spirulina adds more health benefits to a fruit smoothie.

The colours of seaweed range in colour from Red to Green to Brown to Black: Green algae is sea lettuce or ulva, Brown algae is kombu, arame, kelp and wakame, Red algae is dulse, laver, and nori, and Blue-green algae is spirulina.

There are 7 science-backed benefits of seaweed:

  1. Iodine and Tyrosine (an amino acid) is needed by your thyroid gland to function properly. The thyroid gland releases hormones to help control growth, energy production, reproduction and the repair of damaged cells in your body. Seaweed has the unique ability to absorb concentrated amounts of iodine from the ocean. Without enough iodine, you may start to experience symptoms like weight changes, fatigue or swelling of the neck. Kelp is one of the best sources of iodine.
  2. Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals, each type of seaweed has a unique set of nutrients. Seaweed also contains small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, along with folate, zinc, sodium, calcium and magnesium. The protein present in some seaweeds, such as spirulina and chlorella, contain all of the essential amino acids helping to ensure you get the full range of amino acids. Seaweed can also be a good source of omega-3 fats and vitamin B12.
  3. Contains a variety of protective Antioxidants, which can make unstable substances in your body called free radicals less reactive which makes them less likely to damage your cells. Excess free radical production is considered to be an underlying cause of several diseases.
  4. In addition, seaweed boasts a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including flavonoids and carotenoids. These have been shown to protect your body’s cells from free radical damage too. Fucoxanthin is the main carotenoid found in brown algae, such as wakame. Fucoxanthin, has been shown to protect cell membranes better than vitamin A. While the body does not always absorb fucoxanthin well, absorption may be improved by consuming it along with fats.
  5. Seaweed provides fibre and polysaccharides that can support your gut health. Gut bacteria play an enormous role in your health. You have more bacteria cells in your body than human cells. An imbalance in these good and bad gut bacteria can lead to sickness and disease. Seaweed has a higher fibre content than most fruits and vegetables.
  6. It may help you lose weight by delaying hunger and reducing weight. Seaweed contains a lot of fibre but does not contain any calories. This helps you feel fuller for longer and can delay hunger pangs. Fucoxanthin, contributes to an increased metabolism and may help reduce body fat.
  7. A reduction in the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Seaweed may help reduce your blood cholesterol levels. It also contains carbohydrates called fucans, which may help prevent blood from clotting. Diabetes, occurs when your body is unable to balance your blood sugar levels over time. Seaweed gives additional improvements in controlling blood sugar. A substance in seaweed called alginate prevented blood sugar spikes and may also reduce the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

N.B- Although seaweed is considered a very healthy food, there may be some potential dangers of consuming too much. As it can contain a very large and potentially dangerous amount of iodine. High amounts of seaweed can affect thyroid function, and symptoms of too much iodine are often the same as symptoms of not enough iodine. Seaweed can absorb and store minerals in concentrated amounts. This poses a health risk, as seaweed can also contain large amounts of toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead. It is best to buy organic seaweed, as it’s less likely to contain significant amounts of heavy metals.

The fact that it’s plant-based and high in protein as well as containing many other nutrients would make it ideal for a vegetarian or vegan to help any deficiencies in their diet. I think it’s a great idea to add seaweed to your diet for extra fibre too which is often too low in the typical western diet. As a healthy, natural, substantiable food it is very on trend at the current time!

I will write about using seaweed, outside or on the body in my next post.