Kelp (Kun Bu)

Kelp (Kun Bu)

Botanical Name: Western: Algae/Laminariales (brown algae family). Eastern: Saccharina japonica.

Kelp has been celebrated as a food in Asian cultures for centuries. It is recognized in the West for it’s rich supply of iodine, iron, calcium and potassium. All of which make it a wonderful food and medicine. Iodine is critical to the thyroids functions of making sex hormones and metabolizing fats.

Below is an overview of kelp, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of kelp.

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Western Name: Kelp

Also Known As: Seaweed, Kelp Forests

Organs/Systems: Metabolism/Thyroid, Support to female cycles (menses, pregnancy and menopause)

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Thyroid regulation, Antibiotic, immune enhancement, cancer prevention, natural diuretic so aids detoxing, strengthen hair and nail growth, helps prevent anemia, antibiotic, antioxidant. Supports female conditions: regulates menses, eases menopause, helps lactation, prevents anemia. Helps protect against radiation.


Pin Yin: Kun Bu

Also Known As: Kombu in Japanese

Meridians: Kidney, Liver, Stomach

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Strengthen Spleen/Stomach Qi/Dissolves Phlegm: nodules, goiter, and feeling of heaviness/obstruction in the chest. Promotes Urination and Reduces Swelling: leg edema and restless leg syndrome. Strengthen Joints.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Kelps are fast growing, large seaweeds that belong to the brown algae in the order of Laminariales. They can grow to be 100-260 feet tall. They have leaf like structures known as blades, which originate from stem-like structures called stipes. Gas filled bladders form at base of blades in American species helping to keep the blades close to surface of water. It is thought the plant appeared in the Miocene period, 23 to 5 million years ago. Kelp grows in underwater “forests”, in nutrient rich shallow ocean waters, in temperatures of 43-57 degrees. Along the Norwegian coast it provides a high density eco system.

Kelp (Kun Bu) Parts Most Frequently Used: Blades

Flavors/Temps: Salty, Neutral, Cold

Caution: None known, it is a food.

History/Folklore: Iodine is known for its support of thyroid functions, in particular, the creation of sex hormones and fat metabolizing (burning fat). Since medieval times it has been used to treat goiter. Farmed in the 19th century in Scotland to obtain soda ash (sodium carbonate), the crash in kelp pricing there led to the great emigration of the Scottish to the US in the 1820’s.

In Chinese slang “kelp” is used to describe an unemployed returnee (someone returning home after being dismissed). The negative overtones of this slang implies the person is drifting aimlessly with the homophonic expression meaning literally “sea waiting” versus the employed returnee who has the dynamic ability to travel across the ocean and is called the “sea turtle.” The Chinese often combine it with Hai Zao (Sargassie) to treat goiter and scrofula.

Earliest evidence of human use comes from the Stone Age sites in Africa. It has been suggested that the growth of kelp around the Pacific Rim may have facilitated the early migration of humans across Northeast Asia into the Americas. It is called the “kelp highway hypothesis.”

Kelp is very efficient at creating methane and sugars that can be converted to ethanol, so it is possibly an eco-friendly energy source. It is used in japan as food and cooked with beans to reduce flatulence (helps convert indigestible sugars).

Key Constituents:

Rich in Iodine and Alkali. Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and other Minerals (70 trace minerals and trace elements). Extremely high levels of Antioxidants.

Did you know?

Ice Cream Thickener

Alginate a kelp-derived carbohydrate is used as a thickener for ice cream, jelly, salad dressings and toothpaste.


Dental Impressions

Kelp is used in dentistry to make dental impressions.

Fun fact!


Outsiders sometimes call the natives of the Falkland Islands “Kelpers.”


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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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