3/ Kelp

It’s puzzling that some bits of lore survive while others disappear.  

When I was young often a strand of  bladder wrack picked up on a day trip to the seaside would be hung up under the shelter of the veranda roof of my family home.  It was believed this could provide a sign of weather to come.  If seaweed absorbs humidity from the air and becomes moist and slimey then rain is likely.  If it remains brittle a dry spell will continue. Had we but known instead of using kelp merely as curiosity for forecasting weather, it could have revealed other properties for us to marvel at.             

I’ve been reading Xa Milne’s, ‘The Seaweed Cookbook’.  It’s a wonderfully enlightening work.   She outlines how in times past sea algae has served as a survival food, a staple of the diet in various cultures.  She describes also some of the benefits of a few of the most common of the 10,000 different edible seaweeds that grow along the coasts of the world; including in reducing cancer risk and inhibiting cancer cell growth.

Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals, in particular in zinc and selenium both of which are important in combating cancer, and perhaps even more significant a high level of  iodine.  Iodine is key to ensuring healthy thyroid function which regulates our metabolism and keeps our cells and ourselves in fine fettle.

In support of her own findings, Xa Milne cites Catherine Zabilowicz, co-author of ‘The Living Well with Cancer Cookbook’ and nutrition advisor for Maggie’s Cancer Centre in West London. 

Bladderwrack it seems contains high quantities of fucoidan, a type of fibre, a sulphur-rich polysaccaride, which research has shown inhibits cancer cell proliferation.  It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, supportive of the immune system and has anti-oxidant qualities, all of which are a knockout in reducing cancer risk and cancer growth.

"Make dried bladderwrack into an infusion.  Use young bladderwrack buds to add a delicate flavour to salads."

© Benóg Brady Bates

Useful Resources: 

Fran Warde, Catherine Zabilowicz,‘The Living Well with Cancer Cookbook’ (Bantam Press, 2016)


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