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SARGASSUM OR SEAWEED [海藻, HAI ZAO]

Name : Sargassum or Seaweed[1

Chinese Name : 海藻

Latin Name : Herba Sargassum

Overview

This herb is the dried seaweed of Sargassum pallidum (Turn.) C.Ag., or S.fusiforme (Harv.) Setch. of the family Sargassaceae. It is harvested along the coast of the Zheziang, Fujian, Shandong, and Liaoning provinces of China, where it is gathered in summer, washed clean, cut into sections, and dried in the sun.

Seaweed was used to treat goiters, dropsies of all kinds, menstrual disorders, and difficult labors.

This herb is used as an expectorant for chronic bronchitis, hypertension, and, more frequently, for edema, goiter, and tuberculosis of lymph nodes.

Use of Sargassum in TCM

Bitter and salty in taste, and cool, it acts on the liver, stomach, and kidney meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses and Combinations

  1. Resolves phlegm: sargassum is used as an expectorant for chronic bronchitis but is used more frequently for goiter, tuberculosis of the lymph nodes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension.
  2. To relieve testicle swelling and pain: sargassum is blended with citrus seeds, peach kernel, and melia, as in Ju He Wan
  3. Diuresis: for dysuria, edema, and swollen feet, sargassum is combined with poria, alisma, and polyporus in a decoction

Dosage

In a decoction of 9 to 15 g

Precautions

People with symptoms of Cold and Dampness caused by spleen and stomach asthenia  should not use this herb. Do not combine with licorice root.

Side Effects and Toxicity

No side effects or toxicity were noted by the classical Chinese materia medica.

Chemical Constituents

Sargassum contains alginic acid, mannitol, sargassan, leminine, mucilages, glucose, protein, potassium, and iodine.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. The iodine content of sargassum can treat hypothyroidism caused by iodine deficiency and goiter.
  2. Its hemostatic and anticoagulant effects are similar to hirudin and heparin.
  3. Lowers blood cholesterol. Studies of the herb showed a decreased in lipemia and atherosclerosis.
  4. Inhibits the growth of the larvae and adult form of schistosoma. Has a therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver tissues damaged by schistosomiasis.
  5. Antihypertensive.
  6. Commercially prepared products containing seaweed are useful for weight control.