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Compound which protects seaweed shields humans from disease too -- studies

An extract of seaweed which protects marine plants from disease has been shown in clinical studies to also help block viruses, prevent infections and inhibit the flu.

The compound, known as fucoidan, is found in the cell walls of brown seaweed and protects the plants from water-borne diseases. It’s also been used for centuries in Chinese traditional medicine for its therapeutic properties.

Fucoidan’s role in helping protect against infections, viruses and the flu has been the subject of extensive research with one recent clinical study in Japan finding that fucoidan helped increase antibody production and improve immunity against flu in 70 volunteers over 60 years old.

“Our study showed a possible adjunctive role of…fucoidan in antibody production in the elderly…it is hoped that the popular seaweeds eaten daily in Japan…will be consumed outside Japan for possible immunopotentiation and for attenuating the burden of infectious disease in the elderly,” said researchers.

A separate Australian study noted that isolated fucoidans had shown to have a range of immune modulating effects and was safe for consumption.

A UK study, meanwhile, found fucoidan – contained in the immune-boosting Imunivar – to be an effective inhibitor of inflammation, helpful in preventing and reducing lung infection in cases of severe flu, and had potential as a nutritional supplement to help manage acute viral respiratory infection. 

Dr Jacquelyn Schultz, a homeopathic practitioner, noted that a recent review had underscored fucoidan’s antioxidant, anti-viral and immunoregulatory effects, adding that the fucoidan in Imunivar had undergone extensive testing, showing its immune-boosting and anti-vital potential.

She urged the public to maintain healthy immunity over the summer months when flu is still prevalent, and particularly given the ongoing Covid pandemic. 

“In addition to consulting a medical professional, I advocate a balanced lifestyle, a healthy diet and taking supplements supported by science, such as fucoidan-rich Imunivar,” she added.

IMUNIVAR™ capsules: Fucoidan 100mg from Undaria pinnatifida (Mekabu) sporophyll (leaf and spores), 12:1. Sugar free.This unregistered medicine has not been evaluated by the SAHPRA for its quality, safety or intended use. References: 1. Hayashi, T, Hayashi K, Kanekiyo K, Ohta Y, Lee J-B. Promising antiviral Glyco-molecules from and edible alga. In: Torrence PF, editor. Combating the Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Drug Discovery. 2. 3. Imunivar PIL

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