Gigartina Sea Chicory – Medicinal History


Dry, it looks like tumble weed - but fresh or re-hydrated, it's like little bits of lace

Sea Chicory's colour is varied: dark green, violet green, maroon, coral or red. Its shape and size vary as much as its colour. The specie that we have is endemic to the South-eastern Pacific, nearby the coasts of Peru and Chile. Seaweed were one of the main sea products collected and used by ancient Peruvian coastal inhabitants in the 16th & 17th centuries. Seaweeds constituted an important part of the food exchange between coast and highlands and were negotiated mainly de-hydrated (dry).

Native Peruvians and Japanese people in particular, enjoy eating it as a food. Asian people call sea chicory a variety of names according to their language: yanaginori (Japan), Chicorea de mar (Chile) and cocha yuyos (Peru).

The oldest use for Sea Chicory is in human alimentation. Eaten fresh in places nearby the sea, it was used as an accompaniment for other sea products. In places far from the sea, the seaweed was kept dry and used medicinally as a source of iodine. Iodine, is important if you want your thyroid glands to function normally. The iodine helps boost your metabolism. It’s also rich in calcium to help you grow strong teeth and bones, and magnesium to help your body absorb the calcium. It also has important nutrients like sodium and potassium.

Sea Chicory is classified as a red seaweed, considered highly nutritious, being low in fat, rich in vitamins and plant proteins. Scientists have discovered that Sea Chicory contains a plethora of beneficial polysaccharides called carrageenan, that may have unique medicinal properties. They have found them to be antibacterial as well as antiviral, even anti-herpetic (able to kill the herpes viruses) and anti-coagulant.

Carrageenan has also traditionally been used for coughs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and intestinal problems. The French use a form that has been changed by adding acid and high temperatures. This form is used to treat peptic ulcers, and as a bulk laxative. Some people apply carrageenan directly to the skin for discomfort around the anus.

Carrageenan is also an ingredient in weight loss products. It is thought that Carrageenan contains chemicals that may decrease stomach and intestinal secretions. Large amounts of carrageenan seem to pull water into the intestine, and this may explain why it is tried as a laxative. Carrageenan also might decrease pain and swelling (inflammation).

In more recent times, Sea Chicory has been harvested commercially as raw material for the extraction of its jellifying compounds used in food processing. There is controversy over the health effects of isolated carrageenan extracts, but the whole plant has been used for food & medicinal purposes for centuries.


Nutritional & digestive benefits
Effects on Gut Function
Bioactivities of sulphated polysaccharides
Natural Carrageen & its applications
Polysaccharides & immunity

Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and should be verified by a qualified health practitioner for specific & individual needs & requirements.




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