What is Bladderwrack used for? (Hair and Skin Benefits)


What is Bladderwrack used for?

Bladderwrack is a variety of brown seaweed that has been gaining popularity for being nutrient-dense and for possessing anti-inflammatory properties. It is scientifically known as “Fucus vesiculosus” and grows along the coasts of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Because of its high nutritional density (especially iodine), bladderwrack is used in alternative medicine as a supplement and may be used for aiding in the management of medical conditions like:

  • Iodine deficiency
  • Joint pain
  • Obesity
  • Gastric acidity
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Goiter
  • Skin inflammation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Does Bladderwrack have benefits for hair?

Bladderwrack has benefits for the hair as it is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A and vitamin C that help protect hair against harmful environmental oxidants present in pollutants like smog. These antioxidants also help prevent damage to hair from harmful ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight.

Bladderwrack is also a good source of amino acids required for building proteins like keratin and collagen, which form the basic structure of hair strands and are necessary for hair growth. 

Finally, bladderwrack is a rich source of minerals like iodine, phosphorus, and iron that help promote hair growth.

Does Bladderwrack have benefits for the skin?

Bladderwrack has benefits for the skin as it is a good source of amino acids and antioxidants. Bladderwrack helps keep the skin hydrated and fresh, reduces redness and itchiness, and increases the skin’s elasticity to help achieve a younger look. An older study showed that bladderwrack gel applied to the skin increased collagen production. This protein is required for keeping the skin tight and preventing wrinkles.

A clinical trial conducted using extracts from bladderwrack showed that it increased the elasticity of human cheek skin and decreased the thickness in just a short span of 5 weeks.

Another study investigating “Fucoidan” a potent anti-inflammatory compound found in bladderwrack, has shown an active role of this compound in helping to reduce inflammation and as a potential therapeutic option for treating atopic dermatitis. This is an allergic condition that results from the body reacting to environmental irritants that penetrate the skin.

How to use Bladderwrack for the skin?

Bladderwrack-rich creams or lotions can be used directly on the skin once or twice daily. Because of its water-binding properties, topical application of such formulations will help maintain a healthy moisture level for the skin. 

Bladderwrack extracts are available in the form of facial scrubs, moisturizing lotions, shower creams, and soaps. 

In the video below, we explore bladderwrack uses, the question being Does Bladderwrack Work? and what are the reported benefits of using bladderwrack on your skin and including bladderwrack in your diet.

This is our recommended Bladderwrack supplement (Amazon’s Choice):

Bladderwrack Powder 1 lb. (16 oz.) Bag, Contains ORGANIC Non-GMO Bladderwrack in non-BPA Packaging, Bladderwrack Organic Powder, Powdered

What are the benefits of Bladderwrack for fertility?

Research shows that bladderwrack has benefits for fertility because it is a rich source of iodine and folate. 

  • An adequate intake of folate has been shown to increase the chances of women becoming pregnant. 
  • Iodine has been found to be a critical nutrient both before and during pregnancy. Studies show that women who suffer from iodine deficiency are 46% less likely to get pregnant.

From a cultural perspective, bladderwrack is regarded as an aphrodisiac for men. However, there is no significant evidence supporting this claim. Nonetheless, the nutritional benefits of bladderwrack will likely bolster sperm growth and health in men.

Does Bladderwrack help with pregnancy?

Bladderwrack can help with pregnancy because it is a good source of folate. Women during pregnancy are advised to consume 400 μg of folate each day to prevent the development of neural tube defects in the baby. 

The iron supplied from bladderwrack will help increase the production of red blood cells required for carrying oxygen in the blood. This will help promote the health of the mother and the baby and simultaneously prevent anemia during pregnancy.

However, currently, no specific studies have been conducted investigating the use of bladderwrack during pregnancy. Given that the baby’s development is affected by what the mother eats during pregnancy, the use of bladderwrack during pregnancy would be advised based on clinical evidence.

Are there any benefits to using Bladderwrack for weight loss?

Bladderwrack benefits weight loss because it contains fiber, fucoxanthin and may lower cholesterol. Bladderwrack supplements may be taken orally, or powdered preparations of this supplement may be used for making herbal tea to help aid weight loss.

  • Bladderwrack, like other seaweeds, is a good source of fiber. Fiber is a noncaloric nutrient that causes a person to feel full for longer and, therefore, prevents overeating and weight gain. 
  • A study showed that bladderwrack contains “Fucoxanthin,” a compound that boosts metabolism and helps the body burn fat even while resting.
  • A different study investigating the use of bladderwrack as an ingredient in foods has shown that it may also help lower blood cholesterol levels. 

How much weight can you lose on Bladderwrack?

Given that bladderwrack boosts the metabolism and is a good source of fiber, a person can realistically lose 1-2 lbs per week by incorporating it into the diet.

Currently, it is recommended that a person loses no more than 1-2 lbs (0.5-1 kg) per week. This can be accomplished by creating a daily deficit of 500-1000 calories based on an average diet of 2000 calories per day. 

What are the benefits of Bladderwrack for the eyes?

Brown algae like Bladderwrack have benefits for the eyes since they are a rich source of pigment compounds like vitamin A and carotenoids. These compounds promote good vision and keep the eyes healthy.

The micronutrients like zinc and iodine, which are found in bladderwrack, are required in small amounts to keep the retina (part of the eye on which images form) healthy.

A study has shown that bladderwrack extract, when applied to the skin under the eyes, helps treat dark circles.

What is the nutritional content of Bladderwrack?

Bladderwrack has great nutritional content because it is a good source of micronutrients like iodine, zinc, copper, manganese, and iron which are required in small amounts to help promote functions of organs like the brain, eyes, and thyroid gland.

Vitamin A and C are present in significant amounts in bladderwrack and help contribute to its antioxidant effects. Vitamin B complex like folate is also supplied by bladderwrack.

One hundred grams of bladderwrack supplies about 280 calories, with most of the calories coming from carbohydrates.

Finally, bladderwrack contains fiber which helps add bulk and promotes movement of digested food through the intestines.

What is the iodine content of Bladderwrack?

It is estimated that one gram of Bladderwrack may contain a maximum of 600 μg of iodine. It is recommended that an average adult consumes an average of 140 μg of iodine daily. Studies have shown that the iodine contained within bladderwrack varies with environmental conditions. 

What minerals are found in Bladderwrack?

Bladderwrack supplies the following minerals: 

  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Iodine

How much iodine is there in Bladderwrack?

It is estimated that one gram of bladderwrack may have a maximum of 600 μg of iodine. The content of iodine in bladderwrack has been shown to be highly dependent on its growing conditions. 

However, supplements made using bladderwrack have an average of 100 μg of iodine per gram of bladderwrack. 

How to use Bladderwrack?

The best way to use Bladderwrack depends on what part is being used. Some simple ways to use different parts of Bladderwrack include:

  • The thallus, or the main stem of bladderwrack, has been traditionally eaten as it is a good source of fiber and nutrients. 
  • The stem can be consumed raw in small amounts as part of salads. It may also be used to season dishes or add flavor to soups and stews.
  • The stem may be boiled in water to extract all its nutrients to help make herbal tea.
  • Bladderwrack extract or ointments may be applied to the skin once or twice daily. Soaps and shampoos containing bladderwrack may also be used. 
  • The seaweed can be dried and stored for future use.

How to take Bladderwrack?

How to take Bladderwrack will depend on the form you are consuming since it is available in a variety of forms. 

  • Bladderwrack can be easily eaten raw or as part of dishes. 
  • It may also be consumed as part of herbal drinks such as tea. 
  • Ideally, 2-4 tablespoons of bladderwrack powder may be consumed daily.

Various supplements made from extracts of different seaweeds, including bladderwrack, may be consumed. However, since there is no specific guideline regarding the use of such supplements, a doctor should be consulted before taking them.

How much Bladderwrack to take daily?

Most Bladderwrack supplements recommend you to take one pill daily. Supplements are usually available as 500mg tablets. However, there is no specific guideline regarding the daily consumption of bladderwrack

Studies conducted in Asian societies where seaweed is consumed daily have shown that an average person consumes as much as 3 mg of iodine per day because of the high iodine content in seaweed. Based on this data, 4-6 grams of seaweed can be safely consumed daily without any adverse effects.

What are some dangers of using Bladderwrack?

The main dangers associated with bladderwrack result from consuming large amounts of bladderwrack over a short period of time. Some associated risks include:

  • The high iodine content in bladderwrack may result in suppression or overactivity of the thyroid gland. This may result in unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, lethargy, weight loss, or weight gain.
  • Bladderwrack may also interact with other drugs which contain iodine like amiodarone, or it may alter the metabolism of drugs in the liver. 
  • Topical preparations of bladderwrack may result in allergic reactions, which may present with redness or itchiness of the skin.

In any such situation, the supplement should be discontinued immediately, and medical attention should be sought after.

Does Bladderwrack raise blood pressure?

As Bladderwrack contains sodium (about 38 mg per gram of bladderwrack), consuming greater than 100 grams of bladderwrack daily may, in theory, place a person at risk of developing high blood pressure. However, there is no specific research investigating this association.

Sodium is the major electrolyte in the body and it exerts an osmotic effect, i.e., it pulls in water. Consuming large amounts of sodium results in greater water retention which ultimately leads to a rise in blood pressure. 

Bladderwrack vs Kelp: What is the difference?

There is certainly a difference between bladderwrack and kelp. Unlike bladderwrack, kelp is a large brown algae. Kelp may contain the same nutrients as bladderwrack; however, the amount of these nutrients is different. 

Kelp is a form of seaweed or algae, just like bladderwrack. Kelp is sometimes mistakenly used as a general term for seaweed. Bladderwrack or Fucus vesiculosus is a different type of seaweed. These two terms are also erroneously used interchangeably. 

Both kelp and bladderwrack supply iodine. However, bladderwrack contains more iodine compared to kelp. Similarly the trace metal i.e., zinc, magnesium, etc. content of bladderwrack is higher in comparison to kelp.



This article makes use of information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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What is Bladderwrack used for? (Hair and Skin Benefits)
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