Fucoidan is a naturally occurring compound that is found within the cell walls of certain species of edible brown seaweed, including varieties such as wakame, limu moue, and kombu. These species of seaweed tend to be found most often in Korea and Japan. The compound can be chemically extracted from the cell walls of brown seaweed and is often packaged and sold as a medicinal supplement. It is thought by some to fight against a variety of serious health conditions; however, its effects have not been conclusively proven in human beings.
Supporters of fucoidan claim that one of the supplement’s main health benefits is the ability to prevent the accumulation of tumors in the body. A tumor is a mass caused by the buildup of abnormal cells, resulting in a lump. In some cases, tumors may prevent bodily organs from functioning properly and can lead to death. The supplement is thought to prevent tumors by blocking the function within the body’s cells that causes abnormal cells to form. It is often promoted as a natural medication to help treat cancer; however, its effectiveness in the usage of cancer treatment has not been conclusively proven.
Another claim that the marketers of fucoidan make is that the supplement may act as an anticoagulant, a medication that keeps the blood from clotting. Anticoagulants tend to be prescribed most often to people who suffer from atrial fibrillation, a heart abnormality that can prevent blood from completely pumping out of the heart. The blood that is left behind and not pumped out can accumulate and cause clots. Blood clots can block the arteries, or the veins that the heart uses to distribute blood throughout the body, and prevent oxygen from reaching vital organs. Supporters of fucoidan believe it can be used as a natural anticoagulant for people who are at risk for blood clots.
Fucoidan tends to be packaged into capsules and is administered orally. It is usually recommended that a person take one capsule of the supplement each day to get the intended results. The supplement is not thought to have any definite adverse side effects, so it is generally considered safe for consumption for the general public.
Critics of fucoidan point out that the supplement has no proven evidence to back up its claims of health benefits. They claim that the effects of the supplement have been tested more often in animals and that the makers cannot claim that it will have the same results in humans. Some critics also believe it can be dangerous for makers of the supplement to claim it can prevent or treat cancer, because it may prevent a person from seeking a doctor’s treatment.