Gutweed Seaweed Benefits

Gutweed Seaweed
Latin Name

Ulva intestinalis

Also Known As

Grass Kelp, Sea Grass

Origin

Worldwide

Parts Used

Whole plant

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Gutweed is a common seaweed found on all UK shores and in many different habitats. It is often seen with bubbles of air trapped inside its long fronds which have the look of intestines, hence its scientific name, Ulva intestinalis.

This iodine rich seaweed contains a wealth of other essential nutrients absorbed from the pristine waters off the western coast of Ireland.

Gutweed Seaweed Benefits

Thyroid Health

Just one 7g serving of Gutweed Seaweed provides over 300 percent of the RDI for this important compound. Due to ongoing soil depletion, sea vegetables have long overtaken land vegetables in the iodine department, with Gutweed being no exception. As most people are low in iodine and the RDI is just a recommendation, this boost of iodine will in turn boost one’s health as long as there are no underlying problems with iodine.

Iodine is critical to the thyroid; it forms a part of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) which are used in every cell of the body to regulate metabolism and weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat. These hormones are directly responsible for controlling the body’s “base metabolic rate” which affects the efficiency and efficacy of many of the body’s organ systems, and regular processes including the absorption and biosynthesis of food into usable energy. Iodine is literally "food for the thyroid".

Iodine also displaces dangerous "halides" such as; fluoride, bromide and chlorine in the thyroid. It is antioxidant, promotes proper hormone balance, protects from radiation and kills bacteria and fungi.

When the thyroid is compromised, symptoms can include unexplained weight loss/gain, fatigue, hair loss and dry skin.

High in Iron

Again, just one 7g serving of Gutweed provides an impressive 85 percent of the RDI for iron. Iron is important to many functions of the body and is most famously associated with blood health.

Healthy Blood: Iron is needed for a number of highly complex processes that continuously take place in the body on a molecular level. Formation of haemoglobin is the chief function of this mineral – this is the primary protein found in red blood cells and represents about two thirds of the body’s iron. Haemoglobin binds to the oxygen molecules that are inhaled when we breathe and releases them into tissues of the body.

Cognitive Function: The brain receives around 20% of oxygen from the blood and a proper flow of blood to the brain stimulates cognitive activity and helps to create new neural pathways. This is especially useful in the prevention of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia. Iron is also an active participant in synthesising the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, critical neurochemicals to the regulation of mood and behaviour.

It is especially important that children consume enough iron in their diet – iron deficiency in the first two years of a child’s life is associated with delayed cognitive and psychomotor development. 

Immune System: Iron plays an essential role in the healthy functioning of the immune system. Whilst white blood cells are required for a strong immune system, red blood cells are necessary for providing oxygen to damaged tissues, organs and cells.

Fatigue: Iron is a co-factor and activator for enzymes which play key roles in energy production and metabolism.  If iron stores are low symptoms can include tiredness, fatigue and dizziness.

Heart Health

Gutweed Seaweed is high in magnesium which helps to regulate heart rhythm, co-ordinating the activity of the heart muscle and the nerves that initiate heartbeat. Low magnesium levels can cause heart palpitations and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Magnesium also helps to keep the coronary arteries from having spasms that can cause the intense chest pains known as angina. It is relatively well known that a deficiency in magnesium is the most common cause of these spasms.

Furthermore, magnesium relaxes the muscles that control blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more freely, which can help to reduce high blood pressure – an important factor in decreasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Magnesium’s effect on high blood pressure is further enhanced because it helps equalize the levels of potassium and sodium in the blood.

Gutweed is also is rich in potassium, a mineral that has powerful vasodilating properties (relaxes the blood vessels). This tension in the blood vessels is one of the main causes of high blood pressure which in turn can lead to heart problems. Potassium also plays a role in every heartbeat - hundred thousand times a day, it triggers the heart to beat!

Typical Use

Organic Irish Gutweed

Irish Gutweed makes the perfect addition to soups, chowders, stir fries and stews. It also makes a delicious, crispy snack when deep fried. Simply add to your favourite dishes.

Folklore and History

Seaweed is thought to have originated approximately three and half billion years ago! Humans realised the  benefits of seaweed many thousands of years ago, using it as medicine, food, fodder and fertiliser. We know through archiological evidence from Monte Verde, Southern Chile, that humans have harvested and preserved seaweed for long term storage and used seaweeds for food and medicinal purposes for upwards of 20,000 years. 

In Ireland it was common to predict the weather by observing changes in seaweeds that were hung on porches or in the barn. When dry and crisp and left outside, the strand will remain rigid and dry when the weather is to remain good. Before it rains or a thunderstrom develops, the frond of seaweed will become wet and moist long before such events. This suggested ability probably stems from the fact that seaweeds become wet immersed in the sea and susequently dryout when the tide retreats, this occurs several times a day. Therefore, seaweeds can indeed demonstrate the weather!

Gutweed Seaweed
Precautions

People with an iodine allergy should not consume seaweed. If you are taking any prescription medications, especially in the case of thyroid disorders, please consult your healthcare practitioner before consuming Irish Gutweed.