Sea cucumber is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. It is a featured component of a festive New Year's banquet dish called "The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea." The reported health benefits of sea cucumber, however, are what attract the most interest in the U.S., although research into its the possible benefits of sea cucumber and their extract is preliminary. Consult with your doctor before taking any products made from these sea-dwelling creatures.
Easing Joint Pain
Sea cucumber is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of health problems, including fatigue, impotence and joint pain. Sea cucumber contains high levels of chondroitin sulfate, a major component of cartilage. The loss of chondroitin sulfate is associated with arthritis and taking sea cucumber extract may help to reduce the joint pain associated with this condition, according to an article by H. Benedikt, D.C., in "Dynamic Chiropractic." Sea cucumber also contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds.
Improving Gum Disease
Though the study was preliminary, a toothpaste made with sea cucumber extract was shown to improve healing in patients who had undergone treatment for gum disease. The toothpaste was formulated to take advantage of the sea cucumber's wound-healing, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which have been recognized both in traditional healing modalities and by modern researchers. The study, reported in the "Journal of Oral Science", involved 28 volunteers who either brushed their teeth with sea cucumber toothpaste or with a toothpaste that was identical except for the extract. By the end of the three-month trial, patients who had gotten the sea cucumber toothpaste who used the sea cucumber toothpaste experienced a significant in bleeding, swelling and the depth of periodontal pockets when compared to the control group.
Although sea cucumbers may be an unusual food, they can provide a valuable protein boost for those who need it. According to Subhuti Dharmananda, Director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Portland, Oregon, sea cucumbers are higher in protein than almost any other food, except for egg whites. The Harvard School of Public Health states that people in the United States might reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by boosting their intake of protein, especially if the protein replaces refined carbohydrates in your diet. Sea cucumbers are available at Asian grocery stores.
- Journal of Oral Science: Efficacy of 'Gamadent' Toothpaste on the Healing of Gingival Tissues; T. Taiyeb-Ali; Sept. 2003
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein
- Institute of Traditional Medicine: Sea Cucumber: Food and Medicine
- Dynamic Chiropractic: Sea Cucumber: A Natural Arthritis Treatment