Kelp for Cancer…And Everything Else
So much disease in humans is the result of nasty, reactive baddies called free radicles (oxidants) which whizz around inside us. They are responsible for most inflammatory and cardiovascular disease, cancer and ageing. How do they get in? For the large part, we eat them (processed foods, unnatural food chemicals, biocides on our fruit and veg), we absorb them through our skin (cleaning products, makeup) and we inhale them (car exhaust, smog, smoking).
Thankfully the consumption of plants high in antioxidant compounds alleviates the harm of these in our bodies brought. We know this. But while antioxidant benefits associated with consuming various terrestrial plants (e.g. “superfood” like green vegetables and berries), relatively little emphasis has been placed on the merits of consuming marine macro-algae. So I wanted to highlight again, using some weighty studies, why seaweeds make up some part of 70% of the products I recommend.
Why is Seaweed so High in the Good Stuff?
Macro-algae contains a whole host of antioxidant compounds including carotenoids, phenolic compounds phycobilin pigments, polyphenols, sulphated polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals. Many of these amazing, life-affirming compounds are entirely unique to seaweeds, meaning you can’t get them from land-based plants, including the fucoxanthins, fucoidans and fucans, amongst others.
Seaweed lives in a very hostile, changing environment. With daily changes in temperature, salinity and oxidative state (in air, underwater), bashed by waves and stones, seaweed has evolved a plethora of organic chemical compounds to protect itself from oxidative stress. If we eat them we can absorb these phytochemicals and use them for ourselves. Lovely.
It’s interesting that when seaweeds were harvested at different times of the year they found all the extracts of winter collected specimens exhibited significant greater anti-inflammatory properties (80%) compared to those collected in summer collection (34–59%). This difference could probably be related to seasonal variation due to nutrient availability thereby affecting synthesis of chemical constituents required for growth of the alga
Multiple Studies Showing Seaweed Fights Cancer…
For the moment let’s focus on cancer. All the studies below are in humans. Nothing has been produced in dogs, yet:
Rashid et al. (1995) found that marine algae compounds produced “a novel pattern of anti-tumour activity” that was “cytotoxic to certain cell lines in the colon cancer sub panel at concentrations 10- to 100-fold lower than the mean cytotoxic concentration observed in the other tumour sub panels”, meaning it was effective in far smaller doses that other treatments.
Harada et al. (2002) tested algae extracts for in vitro activity against murine lymphoid leukaemia. The results revealed that “some algae showed specifically strong anti-tumour activity with low cytotoxicity to normal cells.
Deslandes et al. (2000) isolated an unusual polysaccharide from the brown seaweed Fucales. They studied its anti-proliferative effect on asynchronous cells of a human non-small-cell broncho-pulmonary carcinoma line in vitro. The results showed the cell growth was inhibited in G1 phase.
Xu et al. (2004) screened 39 species of marine algae collected from the coast of China for their antitumor activities. They found that eight marine algae species had “potent cytotoxic activities“. More than 30 compounds were isolated and purified, and 14 bromophenols, one steroid and one carotene were identified. Amongst the 16 identified compounds, 7 showed vigorously selective activities against cancer cells.
The red alga Porphyra sp. contained sulphated polysaccharides (porphyrans) that have been showed to present potential antitumor activity through apoptotic mechanism.
Kwon et al. (2007) found that the ethanolic extracts of Corallina pilulifera showed cytotoxic activity against human cervical adenocarcinoma cell line.
Skibola et al. (2005) demonstrated the endocrine-modulating effects of kelp at relevant doses and suggest that dietary kelp may contribute to the lower incidence of hormone-dependent cancers among the Japanese.
Ohigashi et al. (1992) reported that strong inhibitory activities on cancer were found in Wakame seaweed (Undaria pinnatifida) and in Laminaria and Saragassm spp.
Kang et al. (2008) reported that an extract of Sargassum fulvellum inhibited an inflammatory symptom of mouse ear edema (swelling) by 79.1%. These findings are consistent with various claims that these seaweeds can be used as remedies for inflammation-related symptoms.
Hwang et al. (2006) found brown algae’s to be successful in the fight against skin cancer. Applied topically it boosts the anti-oxidative ability of the skin and reduces the damage caused by sunburn.
The brown seaweed Sargassum demonstrates very definite anti-tumour and anti-oxidative activity.
Fucoidan from the seaweed Fucus vesiculosus has been found to inhibit the migration and invasion of human lung cancer cells.
The Future: Seaweeds to be the new Antibiotics…
Superbugs is a bit of a misnomer. They’re just bacteria doing what bacteria do, breeding exponentially, evolving a light speed. For every antibiotic we use bacteria work their way around. The more we expose them to a single antibiotic the more robust they become. We’ve known this since pretty much their invention. In 1945 Fleming warned of “wasting” penicillin. We ignored him. In a way they’re not super, we’re just dumb.
Due to an overuse by medical profession, in agriculture (largely the meat sector) and over-use of anti-bacterials in general (kills 99.9% of bacteria is actually the worst thing that spray could do) we have decreased the potency of antibiotics. Studies show they are becoming increasingly less useful and drug-resistant bugs are on the rise. And we are not producing new ones.
Recently, infections have become the leading cause of death world-wide which has led to an increase in antibacterial resistance, making it a global growing problem. More and more bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics conferred by randomly mutated genes. Each year infectious diseases cause 14 million deaths worldwide, with mortality increasing even in the United States at an annual rate of 4.8 percent. In addition to this problem, antibiotics are sometimes associated with adverse effects on the host including hypersensitivity, immume-supression and allergic reactions.
There is a now, more than ever, a tremendous need for novel antimicrobial agents from different sources.
The potent anti-microbial effects of various macro-algae means they are provide us with a possible out. They can be included in foods, soils, health products, packets of vegetables. They can be safely consumed and offer a whole range of neutraceutical benefits when we do. Why aren’t they being used? The same reason you don’t see an ad for spinach on the television, significantly less money is made from simple, unpatentable natural products that we can harvest ourselves. Pesticides and drugs for the illness they cause is better for corporations, so that’s what you get.
If you want to learn more about superbugs please read our article highlighting the role our vets are playing in the whole superbug process.
Where to get Good Kelp…
Seaweeds make up some part of 70% of the products I promote for all the reasons mentioned above. I’m mad about them and think I might of been the first to include it in my raw dog food products. Today we stock a great range of seaweeds. Simply sprinkle a little on each feed for a serious nutritional pow. Just use one product at a time folks, though studies show there are is so far there seems to be no oral toxicity noted with very high doses of brown seaweed.
Here’s a quick run down of my favourite seaweed products:
I think this is the finest, organic, sustainably harvested (not off the beach or intertidal zone where anti-oxidant content is significantly less) Atlantic brown kelp out there for dogs today. Laminaria is packed full of powerful antioxidants such as fucoidans that are unique to seaweeds as well as iodine both of which promote health in your dog. Favoured by breeders worldwide. Often used to promote coat condition. 300g €14.25, lasts a medium dog 150 days
BF8 is a powerful daily supplement for your pet. It is used as a pre and probiotic for dogs. By promoting the growth of good bacteria via plant fibres together with a range of bioactive compounds unique to these seaweeds BF8 will improve both your dogs gut health and micro flora balance, and a happy gut means better nutrient absorption, better immunity, better neuro-transmission and better detoxification. We call it kelp on steroids and it’s my favourite general kelp supplement. 300g €27.99
NOTE 1: Please note, if your dog is sick, particularly with cancer, then first communicate to your vet your desire to use a seaweed product in conjunction with their conventional treatments. A natural anti-oxidant is strongly recommended at this time but we don’t want one product bouncing off another.
For some excellent reviews of the scientific (non-alternative!) literature on kelps, please send your vet / doctor to: