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.
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.
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).
Rich in Iodine and Alkali. Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and other Minerals (70 trace minerals and trace elements). Extremely high levels of Antioxidants.
Ice Cream Thickener
Alginate a kelp-derived carbohydrate is used as a thickener for ice cream, jelly, salad dressings and toothpaste.
Kelp is used in dentistry to make dental impressions.
Outsiders sometimes call the natives of the Falkland Islands “Kelpers.”
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