Laminaria possesses remarkable properties that make it a wonderful component of dietary supplements. Due to its amazing medicinal benefits, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since centuries and is listed in the Chinese pharmacopeia. In general, Laminaria is considered as a cold, salty herb, prescribed to cleanse heat, resolve phlegm, and soften and disperse hard accumulations (e.g., goiters). It is often used to control edema, as an expectorant and antitussive, and as a remedy for testicular pain and swelling. Despite its salty character, the herb is slightly hypotensive.
As discussed under the chemical properties, a dietary supplement, Laminaria, is rich in several constituents that can be very beneficial to the health. Its high iodine content proves to be a great natural boon for the thyroid gland to prevent goiter. Apart from its high calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and trace minerals such as manganese, copper, selenium, and zinc, it provides vitamins B1 and B2 as well as chromium which is instrumental in blood sugar control and helps to keep diabetes in check. In Europe, Laminaria is basically harvested for a main source of alginate in the food industry, an emulsifying and binding agent used in the production of many foods like ice cream, toothpaste, cereals, and cosmetics as well as in paints and films (www.montereybayaquarium.org).
Dietary use of Laminaria dates back to the days of the First World War when it was used in raw form as a feed supplement for horses. It is used as a food, principally in Asian countries, where it is valued for its flavor, mineral content, and health giving benefits. The most important components with a medicinal point of view are Laminaria's polysaccharides. It contains alginates, laminarin, laminine, and fucoidan as well as a number of other polysaccharides and simple sugars.
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