Seaweeds are nothing but the common term used to algae that grow in ocean or marine water. Kelps are the microscopic plant, is an example for marine algae. Many types of seaweed are used as food and also in medicine by many people around the world. For example Japanese people from many ages use kelp, Laminaria species as food or food ingredient. They also believe in the medicinal value of other seaweed such as nori and mozuku. Eventhough the therapeutic properties of seaweed are well known in Japan for many centuries, but the scientific research on their therapeutic property began only during 1970s. Scientists were successful in isolating the chemical compound from the brown algae, which shows the anti-cancer and anti-tumor activity. Chemical compounds such as u-fucoidan and laminarin are extracted from one of theJapan's most popular seaweed known as Konbu.
Many researchers and scientists associated the regular consumption of seaweeds with the low cancer incidence in Japan. Scientists also say that the regular consumption of marine seaweed also reduced the incidence of breast cancer in Japan women. These research findings confirm the anti-cancer property of the seaweeds, therefore seaweeds like konbu is already marked throughout the world as alternative medicine and also as dietary supplements.
Uses of Seaweed:
Active chemical compound isolated from the brown seaweed is u-fucoidan. The compound u-fucoidan has been extensively studied by the researchers fot its anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. When the compound u-fucoidan was added to the cancer cell culture in the lab, all the cancerous cells are killed within the 72 hours. Researchers say that the compound u-fucoidan has the capacity to induce apoptosis in cancerous cell. Apoptosis is also known as programmed cell death. This phenomenon takes place when the DNA digesting enzymes are produced by the cell itself, to cleave the DNA molecule into fragments and this will induce the cell death. The compound u-fucoidan showed this anti-cancer activity against the stomach, colon and leukemia cancer cells in laboratory. Research being conducted to understand the biochemical pathway on how the active compound u-fucoidan induces the apoptosis in cancerous cells.
The phytochemical compound u-fucoidan also inhibits the adhesion of tumor cells to normal tissue or cell. Therefore it inhibits the metastasis or spreading of cancer into other parts of the body. Scientists put forth the hypothesis u-fucoidan may block the normal cell receptor used by cancer cells to bind.
The compound u-fucoidan also activates the macrophages, hence increases the phagocytosis of the tumor cells.
Another compound known as laminarin, which is extracted from the seaweed also inhibits the formation of angiogenesis in the cancer cell. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels in tumor to supply sufficient amount of food and oxygen to the cancerous cells.
Since cancerous cells divide continuously they require higher quantity of food and oxygen or energy, when angiogenesis is stopped, these cancerous cells don't get sufficient amount of energy, and this will lead to the starvation of cancer cell and finally will lead to the cancer cell death.
Consumption of raw seaweed or the compounds containing phytochemicals like u-fucoidan and laminarin is beneficial to mankind, because of their anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. These seaweeds are also rich source of iodine and other minerals, which are important to our normal body function.
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