Commonly known as kelp, Laminaria digitata is a sea vegetable that is most typically used as a source of certain nutrients. Kelp may have many other uses for your health, however, including benefits for weight loss. Before you begin taking Laminaria extract to promote weight loss, consult your doctor to discuss the potential risks and proper dosage.
Kelp is a type of brown seaweed that can be different species belonging to the Laminaria genus, but the most common form is Laminaria digitata, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Kelp is rich in vital minerals like iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Laminaria species also contain high levels of folic acid and numerous other vitamins, making it a nutrient-rich food source in many countries, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Kelp is also made into extracts and other medicinal remedies that are used for specific health purposes.
Kelp’s high concentrations of iodine can help treat an iodine deficiency, notes the University of Michigan Health System. The iodine in kelp may also increase your metabolism, Drug Digest says. Laminaria species contain large amounts of soluble and insoluble fibers that have laxative effects in the intestines, both by stimulating intestinal contractions and by bulking stools. Additionally, kelp could offer antihypertensive, antiviral and anticancer actions, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Laminaria’s iodine content may increase your metabolism, promoting weight loss, Drug Digest says. Unfortunately, no conclusive scientific research has proven that kelp can indeed support or induce weight loss in overweight or obese individuals, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. One of the most common uses for Laminaria extract remedies is to help treat iodine deficiencies, which lead to low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, as well as goiter and cretinism, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Talk with your physician before taking Laminaria extract for any health purpose.
Other potential uses for Laminaria species remedies include treating high blood pressure, common colds, flus and herpes virus infections, as well as preventing cancer and supporting HIV/AIDS treatments, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Applied to the skin, kelp may help ease skin irritation and promote wound healing. Kelp could also potentially prevent bladder and kidney stones, treat diabetes, enhance immune-system function, lower cholesterol levels, and prevent atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, Drug Digest notes. No widely-accepted medical research supports the use of Laminaria extract to prevent or treat any health condition, however.
Taking large amounts of Laminaria can provide your body with excessive levels of iodine, which could alter your thyroid function, warns the University of Michigan Health System. If you have a thyroid disorder -- especially hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid -- talk with your healthcare provider before taking kelp extract. You might experience side effects like acne, stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea or a metallic taste in your mouth while taking Laminaria extract, Drug Digest says. The high levels of potassium in kelp could cause hyperkalemia, or too-high potassium levels, if you’re taking a potassium-sparing diuretic. Kelp extract could also interact negatively with other medications, such as blood-thinners like Coumadin and various drug to treat hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism or other thyroid conditions.