Kelp – Magic from the Sea to Combat Adrenal and Thyroid Fatigue and Create Vibrant Health

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Rocks covered in green algae on a beach, promoting optimal health.

Kelp is a great food for adrenal fatigue, thyroid balance and detoxification. Who'd of thought—back in the days when I was first learning to scuba dive in the thick kelp forests in northern California—that someday I'd be eating the slimy stuff?

Now that I know that kelp is one of the most nutritious foods around, I eat it on a regular basis. Only I don't eat it in it's slimy state. Usually it's ground up as a powder or dried into long crunchy chip-like pieces.

My favorite kelp of all is called bullwhip kelp. It grows in the moving cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. When sun dried and carefully packed, it is crispy and light, salty and delicious. Kids love it.

Another form of kelp is called Laminaria Digitata. Say that 10 times fast! The claim to fame of Laminaria Digitata is its effect on thyroid function. 10% of the iodine in Laminaria digitata Kelp is T3 and T4, the nickname for your thyroid hormones. I've seen people reverse abnormal thyroid lab tests in 6-8 weeks by taking laminaria digitata.

Bullwhip kelp can be eaten and enjoyed as is, like chips. It can also be added to salads, soups, steamed vegetables, smoothies, soups and salad dressings. My favorite source of bullwhip kelp is Dr. Ryan Drum , noted herbalist and sea vegetable gatherer. His articles about kelp and other sea vegetables are as outstanding as his kelp.

I store my kelp in airtight containers because this kelp is very sensitive to moisture. If it does get left open and softens, I crisp it up in the dehydrator, set at 110 – 120 degrees for 30 – 60 minutes.

According to Ryan Drum. , “most kelp it made up of a body or thallus that are actually leaf-like structure called blades. Blades come from stipes which are long stem-like structures. The holdfast is a type of root that anchors the plant to the ocean floor. The American variety contains gas-filled bladders at the base of the blades that keep the leaves close to the surface.”

Kelp and the entire family of sea vegetables are incredibly nutritious, yet unfortunately are underutilized and under appreciated in our Western Culinary regime. For those who frequent Japanese restaurants, sushi and seaweed salad may be familiar menu items, but few, save for those on a macrobiotic diet, a raw foods diet or of Asian origin, serve these gems from the sea at home. They are simple to prepare and serve and can add fun and diversity to your daily culinary repertoire. Served as part of main meals and in salads, soups and wraps, sea vegetables offer an abundance of otherwise hard to get nutrients.

Nutrition Benefits of Kelp

Kelp is very rich in nutrients and phytochemicals. It's loaded with chlorophyll, fiber, and minerals, including significant amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chromium, copper, lithium, manganese, selenium, vanadium, sulfur, and iodine calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, B-vitamins and many other trace minerals naturally found in the ocean. According to Dr. Drum,3-5 pounds of sea vegetables will fully mineralize an adult human for one year! That's approximately 1-2 ounces per week. A 1/3 cup (1/4 oz.) serving of Kelp provides up to 30% of the RDA for iron, which is 4 times the amount of iron in a serving of spinach. Magnesium is twice as abundant in Kelp as in collard greens.

When purchasing kelp, care must be taken to be sure it was grown in unpolluted waters. Kelp can act like a sponge and will absorb toxins and contaminants from the water.

Just a Few of the Health Benefits of kelp

Anti Cancer Effects – The lignans in kelp can inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which cancer cells metastasize. The lignans also inhibit estrogen synthesis in fat cells and reduce the 4OH and 16OH metabolites that are considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Kelp is also rich in folate, a B vitamin that can significantly reduce risk of colon cancer.

Thyroid health – The high level of iodine, especially in the form of T3 and T4 as in laminaria digitata kelp, supports thyroid health and protects the thyroid from radiation exposure.

Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease – The folate in kelp helps breakdown homocysteine, a dangerous metabolic by-product. . Homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls, and high levels are associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Kelp is also a very good source of magnesium, which has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart attack.

Anti-Inflammatory Action – Kelp is a source of fucans, carbohydrates that can reduce inflammation.

Relief for Menopausal Symptoms – Kelp's abundance of magnesium helps restore normal sleep patterns, especially in women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause.

Cashing in on the Health Benefits of Kelp

There are many ways to enjoy kelp. I put a teaspoon of the powder in my smoothies just about every day. I add it to salad dressings, soups and sauces. I've even added it to brownies.

Kelp noodles are one of my favorite dishes. Search the blog for several delicious kelp noodle recipes.

Here's one of my favorite kelp recipes , taken from my e- book “Greens from the Sea”

Land and Sea Slaw

  • 1 cup bullwhip kelp strips, cut lengthwise into slender strips
  • ¼ cup each of grated daikon radish, cabbage, carrot and beet
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup orange juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame, olive, macadamia or flax oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ – 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • Pinch cayenne

Directions :

  • Cut kelp into thin strips using a kitchen scissor.
  • Soak kelp for at least 10 minutes in enough water to cover, until softened. Drain.
  • Grate land vegetables
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl to make dressing.
  • Combine land and sea ingredients into a large bowl and toss with dressing.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

Enjoy kelp and other sea vegetables on a regular basis, at least 1-2 ounces per week. It will go along way to protecting your health, improving your hormones and making you strong and lean.

Love, Health and Joy,

Dr. Ritamarie

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  1. Sharon Levin

    Do be careful when advising re thyroid assistance with KELP – what if your reader(s) have Graves Disease or HYPER (NOT HYPO) THYROIDISM – you would be sending some on a very bad trip! Kelp can destroy in the above conditions under certains circumbstances! Pure iodine is only recommended for HYPO (UNDERACTIVE) thyroid conditions. I like your recipes for those who KNOW they are good to take iodine. Sharon Levin Head of FM, AF et al Southern

  2. Lucas

    I am not sure where you are getting your information, but
    good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    • Ritamarie Loscalzo

      I see you are a big kelp fan. It’s an awesome food. I looked at your blog and notice your breakfast suggestions. Even better than Kelp alone, Kelp on a gluten free diet is fantastic for thyroid health.

  3. jroa

    Hi, just wondering. I don’t have kelp powder, but i do have dried kelp. Can I still add it into my smoothie?

    • Stacie

      Hi Jaylen, great question and the easy solution is that if you put your dried kelp in the blender dry, you can make your own kelp powder that you can then put in a separate container and use any way you like exactly how you would kelp powder.



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