Kelp, the Good and the Bad

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I was reading a book last night that was raving about the benefits of Kelp.  I had heard all the wonderful things it can do for the thyroid, as well as all the hype about it raising the metabolism.  The Dr I heard this from is an expert and has been studying kelp for many years.

My experience with kelp is the reason I am writing this blog today.  While kelp is an amazing supplement, it can also be quite dangerous to the wrong people.

KELP BENEFITS

First and foremost, kelp supplements iodine.  This is important because iodine is needed for a healthy thyroid.  When the thyroid cannot produce a significant amount of iodine, hypothyroidism occurs.  This means that your thyroid cannot produce enough hormones for normal body function, leading to a host of symptoms such as

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Increased Sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Dry skin

Taking kelp supplements increases iodine levels in your body allowing it to function normally.

Kelp contains vitamins B, C and E which help cellular metabolism, increase energy and promote blood vessel health.  Kelp also contains calcium for strong bones and chlorophyll which converts to anti-oxidants.

The internet is simply loaded with sites that rave about the benefits of Kelp.

THE DOWN SIDE OF KELP SUPPLEMENTS

Along with the benefits of kelp supplements, there are also some cautions.

Not everyone needs to supplement for iodine.  Over supplementation with kelp can actually cause Hyperthyroidism.  These symptoms are:

  • Nervousness
  • Racing heart beat
  • Moodiness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Red itchy skin

We used a simple test in my classes.  Paint a Loonie sized patch of Iodine on the skin just below the wrist.  Check just how long it takes for the iodine to absorb. 

Some people in my class had it absorb in 10 minutes or less.  Mine lasted for 3 days.  My results were that I didn’t need iodine while the people who had it absorb immediately definitely needed to increase iodine consumption.

While this test is fun, your doctor can do some simple blood tests that will let you know about your thyroid health.

Kelp is touted as being good for your heart and that may very well be, for some people.  Not for all people.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I have had low blood pressure all my life.  After taking my classes and learning that kelp is an amazing metabolism booster, I decided to try supplementing with kelp.

Shortly after beginning the supplements, I was diagnosed 3 times with high blood pressure.  Because I have always struggled with weight, my GP automatically assumed that it was obesity related heart disease and prescribed blood pressure medication.  I asked him about the kelp and he was not sure but felt that it was weight related.

Fortunately I have a great relationship with my GP and he is well aware that I know my body and every minute thing that occurs in it.  He was not surprised at what happened next.

I stopped taking the kelp and took one of his blood pressure capsules.  I came very close to passing out because the moment I stopped the kelp my blood pressure returned to its normal state.

I stopped the medication immediately and went back to see him 3 weeks later.  He was amazed by how great my blood pressure was.  I informed him that I hadn’t taken his meds and only dropped kelp and increased the amount I walked by 45 minutes per week.  Being the wonderful man he is he simply laughed.

As with all medications both pharmaceutical and herbal, everyone responds differently.  The key is to understand that you may have to work at finding what works best for you. 

For some, kelp is a wonder drug, super food and excellent nutritional supplement.  For others, like myself, it is the last supplement on earth that they should be taking.

To be sure about your thyroid health, see your doctor and request the full range of thyroid tests rather than the single test that is routine.  These will include TSH, free T3 and free T4.

References:

Mayo Clinic

Livestrong