Seaweed (Marine macroalgae) is the term used to refer to numerous species of algae and marine plants growing under water in lakes, rivers, and oceans. Seaweeds fall into the category of plants referred to as marine algae. They can be green (phylum Chlorophyta), red (phylum Rhodophyta), or brown (phylum Heterokontophyta) in color. Seaweeds are simple organisms that typically dwell in saltwater, creating a strong base for many marine food chains. They are generally found attached to a hard surface within coastal areas. Seaweed can be small (phytoplankton) or they can be large (Giant Kelp). However, the majority of all seaweeds are medium sized, washing up on beaches across the globe.
While green algae are found in both marine and fresh water, red and brown seaweed are discovered primarily in marine waters. Green algae can thrive in damp places located in sun-protected areas. Occupying the intertidal section of most oceans, seaweeds are anchored to the ground by holdfasts, as well as in the subtidal areas of temperate and polar regions. The harvesting of seaweed is done by hand, during which it is selected by appearance through the efforts of experienced harvesters.
Containing large stores of fiber, minerals, and vitamins, seaweed is capable of offering multiple benefits when used for either culinary or skincare purposes. The ancient Romans used seaweed to assist in the healing of wounds, rashes, and burns. Researchers have credited seaweed with cancer-fighting capabilities, though more research is needed. In fact, the low rate of cancer in Japan has been associated with dietary intake of seaweed. Containing high levels of iodine (essential to the synthesis of thyroid gland hormones), inclusion of seaweed in the diet may be responsible for a low incidence of thyroid problems in Japan. Offering anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory capabilities, seaweed has been included in a variety of medicinal uses.
For more than a thousand years, the Japanese have consumed seaweed along with other ingredients in a dish known as sushi. Seaweeds offer emulsifying capabilities that make them useful as ingredients in such products as toothpaste and jellies. Seaweed is often included in yogurts, chocolate milk, and health drinks. Some German beers contain seaweed. Absorbing nutrients from the ocean, seaweed is rich in many beneficial ingredients including minerals and vitamins.
A traditional marine cure and as a relaxing treatment, seaweed baths were popular during Edwardian times, particularly in Britain and Ireland where seaweed was indigenous to the area. Ancient Greeks believed that seaweed could encourage longevity while preserving their health. Seaweed baths and treatments were commonly used to treat ailments assumed to be the result of a mineral imbalance. Steaming seaweed produces oils filled with minerals, vitamins, proteins, and complex polysaccharides. Since the oils become suspended in the water, they are readily absorbed by the skin's pores, which have become opened by the steam. Credited with detoxifying the body, seaweed offers restorative capabilities. Seaweed treatments, wraps, and poultices are used to remove toxins while also infusing the skin with the rich nutrients found in seaweed.
Absorbing large concentrations of chelated minerals daily, seaweed is filled with Selenium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, and Zinc. It is also vitamin rich, containing up to a dozen different vitamins (A1, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6, and B12). Seaweed offers conditioning capabilities for the skin as well as for the hair and is used in treatments for cellulite and aging. Hair products containing seaweed boost moisture and shine, improving the look and feel of the hair. Skin products containing seaweed are often non-irritating, while enhancing the skin's natural glow.
Seaweeds are becoming increasingly more popular for healing and beauty purposes. Included in a variety of Thalassotherapy products, seaweed is included for the purposes of toning, moisturizing, and rejuvenating the skin and body. Thalassa is a Greek word meaning sea, clearing identifying the origin of the ingredients contained in Thalassotherapy products.
An exceptionally nutrient-rich substance, seaweed is often used in skin care formulations, including organic skincare products. Seaweed creates healthier skin since it cleanses, soothes, and tones it easily while also helping to rejuvenate body tissues with renewed growth as it stimulates metabolism. Seaweed can improve circulation, while helping to keep the skin's youthful appearance in check. The Alginic Acid content in brown algae performs as a natural cleanser for the intestines.