Brown algae or seaweed, better and more commonly known as kelp, belongs to the class Phaeophyceae within the order Laminariales. Kelp grows in underwater “forests” under the sea. It is thought to have first appeared during the Miocene period, anywhere from 23 million to 5 million years ago. Some of the earliest evidence of kelp use by humans comes from the Middle Stone Ages. During that time in South Africa, kelp was used to help harvest foods such as limpets, mussels, and abalones. There is also archaeological evidence showing kelp use dating back to 12,000 years ago on the California Channel Islands. While there are many species of kelp, kelp that is a part of the Laminaria genus is mainly found in the northern Pacific and northern Atlantic oceans. Did you know that natives of the Falkand Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean are sometimes called “Kelpers?” Also, throughout the 19th century, the word kelp was actually associated with seaweeds burned to obtain sodium carbonate, or otherwise known as “soda ash.”
This brown algae grows up from the ocean floor anywhere from 6 to nearly 100 feet high. It can be so tall that it may grow up to 11 inches past the surface of the water. Kelp actually does not have roots, and grows up from a little system of structures called holdfasts. This holdfast actually works to “attach” the kelp to surfaces like rocks. The actual body of the plant, or the thallus, consists of leaf-like or flat blades. These blades originate from the elongated, stem-like part of the plant.
Kelp can actually be used in many different products and industries. It can be used for soap making, bath and body products, medicinal purposes, skin care, culinary purposes, and hair care. Common bath and body products it can be use in are soaps, facial masks, ointments, lotions, creams, bath teas, bath salts, body wraps, scrubs, and foot treatments. Did you know that kelp has actually been considered as a source of possible renewable energy? It has a high growth rate, and is actually very effective in yielding methane and sugars that can be converted to ethanol. It is great for avoiding the “food vs. fuel” issue.
Kelp Growing Conditions
Kelp is an underwater algae plant,that grows mainly in cool, shallow, nutrient-rich waters close to the shore. Because of the dense groupings in its areas of growth, the areas are called “kelp forests.” Kelp thrives on sunlight and grows in clear waters where the sunlight can reach all the way to the bottom of the ocean floor. Because of kelps’ dependency on sunlight, it is rarely found in areas deeper than 100 to 130 feet deep. It grows best when in waters with temperatures between about 42 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
For kelp to be able to begin growing, it needs to be anchored to a surface with its holdfasts. It needs to be anchored to strong surfaces like rocks, otherwise the plant can actually be yanked loose during storms. Depending on the species of kelp, its life cycles varies. Some species of kelp can live only for a year while others can survive for much longer. Kelp growth begins where the blades of the plant meet the stem-like part of the plant.
There are some underwater creatures, like sea urchins that may feed on kelp, stunting or delaying its growth. But the biggest threats to kelp are actually overfishing, climate changes, marine pollution and water quality.
Kelp Uses in Industries
Kelp is very high in iodine content, making it a wonderful natural source of iodine. It is used in many culinary dishes specifically for this purpose and is used very much in Asian cuisine. Kelp can be processed to extract a substance called alginate that can be used as a thickener for foods like salad dressing, ice cream, and jelly. Kelp is commonly dried and used as a sort of garnish for dishes like stews and soups, as well as being ground into dough for crackers. Dried kelp can also be used to make soup stock. Fresh kelp can be marinated and used for salads or other mixed vegetable dishes.
Bath and Body Products
Kelp can be used for many different products and industries. Besides it culinary purposes, it can also be used for skin care, hair care, medicinal purposes, bath and body products, and even for soap making. When used in soap recipes, kelp can bring a natural green color to your soap, as well as working to provide the skin with many wonderful nutrients.
Common bath and body products kelp can be included in are creams, ointments, lotions, body wraps, facial masks, bath salts, scrubs, foot treatments, and bath teas.
For skin care, kelp can be used to penetrate the skin, working to draw out impurities. It has many nutrients that are great for the skin like Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and polyphenols. These polyphenols help to reduce any skin tumors. Kelp helps to moisturize the skin, calm any sensitivities, helps to slow down the skins aging process, and helps to combat any discoloration of the skin.
There are also many wonderful hair care to kelp as well. Kelp helps to rebuild hair, and makes it stronger. It also hydrates the hair, soothes dry scalp, and helps to thicken the hair.
There are many medicinal benefits to using kelp as well. It contains many nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants and amino acids that are very important to the body. It is very high in iodine, as well as also containing iron, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Kelp contains high amounts of iodine which is essential for the body. Iodine actually helps to treat thyroid problems. It treats a thyroid condition called “goiter,” which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by a lack of iodine. This has actually been in use since medieval times. The thyroid is responsible for many things in the body, including regulating metabolism. When the thyroid is regulated, that helps to regulate metabolism, which in turn may help to achieve some weight loss.
For women, kelp can sometimes to be used to dilate the cervix, inducing labor and delivery for pregnant women. It can also dilate the cervix for medical procedures, the placing of intrauterine devices, removal of any medical devices inside the uterus, and before a D&C or the scraping of the uterus. The kelp or laminaria that can be placed in the cervix is sometimes called a tent. This tent can also be used to cause abortions.
Kelp works as a detoxifying agent, helping to remove many toxins from the body. It also increases insulin resistance, helps with high blood pressure, treats radiation sickness, can work as a laxative for constipation, and even helps to prevent cancer.
Kelp works as a natural diuretic, helping to get rid of water weight and cleanse the body. It also works to strengthen nails, for example after having acrylic nails removed kelp helps to regenerate the nail beds.
It is also a natural antibiotic, helping to protect from colds and the flu, as well as helping sinus congestion and allergy problems. Kelp also works to increase the immune system and boosts energy levels.
In Chinese slang terms, “kelp” is actually used as a term for an unemployed person who tends to just drift around aimlessly.
Alginate, which is extracted from kelp, can also be used as an ingredient for toothpaste. It can be used in dentistry and orthodontics to create impressions of the upper and lower arches of the mouth. Alginate can even be used as an ingredient for exotic dog foods.
Nature’s Garden sells kelp powder for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great kelp is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.
Are you wondering how to try out this amazing product as soon as possible? Well, we offer many free recipes here at Nature’s Garden, and our Seaside Spa Scrub is actually made with our kelp powder! Make sure to check out all the rest of our awesome free recipes and classes as well!