Each type of seaweed or sea vegetable (as some like to refer to them) has its own particular medicinal benefit for the body.
However, unlike land vegetables where the effects for each differ dramatically, all seaweeds have a similar energetic and nutritional profile. Here we look specifically to nori as it is the variety that has both the highest familiarity and availability.
Nori seaweed has been consumed in Japan, China and Korea from as early as 3000 BC. It is very similar to the laver seaweed grown in Wales that also has a long history of consumption (1). Seaweed is able to convert the inorganic minerals in seawater into organic mineral salts that are combined with amino acids – the ideal way for us to receive nourishment for hair, nails, skin, blood, muscles and bones. This is particularly relevant with the depletion of trace elements from the nutritional profile of the topsoil. Seaweed is also able to reduce excess stores of fat and mucus. (2)
Dr Weston A Price in his travels to Peru noticed natives of the Andes Mountains carrying a little bag around with them wherever they went. It contained seaweed that was collected off the Peruvian coast. This was more than a month’s travel from their home. When asked why the carried it they replied, “It guards the heart.” Adding sea vegetables to the diet may also enhance vitality. It is said to also prevent baldness (3), though unfortunately my husband – who loves his nori and home made sushi – did not find this to be the case!
The human body begins its life in a saline solution that has almost the same composition as sea-water. In fact our blood is also a similar composition to that of the sea. They both include more than 100 of the same minerals and trace elements (4).
In the 21st century iodine rich seaweed is increasingly important to counter the damaging effects of consuming large quantities of poor quality soy products. The Japanese diet always contained seaweed to offset the effects of the soy they consumed.
In ancient roman times the expression of abuse ‘vilia alga’ meant worse than seaweed (5). Unfortunately people’s opinion of seaweed probably hasn’t changed in the 2000 years since then! Perhaps this new century will see different
Energetic properties: cold or very cooling, bitter, sinking (because of its salty nature). Increases yin fluids.
Key Nutritional Values
• Nori has a vitamin A content about 67 times that of eggs and protein content similar to soybeans (48% of its dry weight, higher than most other seaweeds). It also contains calcium, phosphorous, sodium, iron, vitamins B1, niacin and iodine. Also the trace elements of cobalt, copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. (6)
Therapeutic (Medicinal) Benefits
• You only need .0004 grams of iodine a day. But without it life can be a pain in the neck, or to be more precise, in the thyroid. Nori is a rich source of iodine, which assists not only the functioning of the thyroid, but also the proper development of the brain during the development of the foetus (7).
• The potassium and the cooling nature assist to keep the blood pressure at a reasonable level and support the kidneys and nervous system. Zinc assists with cellular growth, the functioning of the liver and the immune system (8).
• Clears excess heat and counteracts dryness. May therefore assist with conditions like bronchitis, hypertension, abdominal swelling and obstruction (lumps, goiter) (9).
• Diuretic, softens hardened body area such as nodules, transforms and resolves heat phlegm (yellow or green). Decreases cholesterol, treats painful and difficult urination, goiter, oedema, high blood pressure, cough with yellow mucus, fatty cysts under the skin, warts, rickets, aids in digestion especially with fried foods (10).