(Fucus vesiculosus L.)
Bladder wrack is an alga classified in the brown algae class. In nature, it can be found along the coasts of many seas and oceans, mainly in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean waters, the Arctic Ocean, the White Sea or the Western Baltic.
What does bladder wrack look like and how is it harvested?
Bladder wrack is composed of three elements. The root equivalent of a ground plant is the rhizoid, the stem is the cauloid and the leaf is the phylloid. Bladder wrack has an approximately one-metre-long thallus, like a belt, and is additionally equipped with swim bladders which help it float on the surface of water. For food and cosmetic purposes, bladder wrack is harvested, then desalinated and finally dried. The iodine content in bladder wrack strongly depends on the waters from which it is harvested.
The bladder wrack’s thallus is a source of many substances with a pro-health effect.
In addition to iodine, bladder wrack contains polysaccharides, monosaccharides, mineral compounds (mainly magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, manganese, and copper), vitamins (A, C, and Bs), and xanthophylls (carotenoid dyes) which, in combination with chlorophyll, give the thallus its brown colour.
What properties does this water plant have?
Bladder wrack is mainly used to compensate for iodine deficiency in the body, and due to polysaccharides, it also has a mild laxative effect. It gently irritates the intestinal walls in the digestive tract, accelerating their peristalsis to facilitate defecation and eliminate constipation. Bladder wrack also stimulates the secretion of thyroid hormones and stimulates the metabolism, thus helping to lose weight.
Bladder wrack is used in the cosmetics industry.
The bladder wrack thallus is a source of many anti-oxidative compounds that delay the ageing process. Its high levels of antioxidants also prevent collagen and elastin degradation, which is extremely important to maintain the appearance of young skin, which is so important for all of us. Bladder wrack beauty products are ideal for moisturising, firming and smoothing the skin. The laminarin found in bladder wrack also demonstrates anticoagulation effects. It has a beneficial effect on skin microcirculation and the elasticity of blood vessels, and it is therefore often used in beauty products as an ingredient in anticellulite compositions. It is also believed that the fucoidan in bladder wrack supports the synthesis of collagen in the skin, which can help to reduce cellulite, accelerate skin healing and delay premature skin ageing.
A few things you probably don't know about the sea.
Bladder wrack was discovered as a source of iodine in 1811. Since then, it has been used to treat thyroid goitre and oedema associated with iodine deficiency.
Bladder wrack contains alginic acid used in the food industry (as an emulsifier and thickener in ice cream and a gelling agent in jams and jellies) and the cosmetics industry (shampoos, gels, toothpaste). With its ability to accelerate healing, it is also used in the manufacture of wound dressings.