Seaweed nutrients may help treat blindness in children, study shows
As a complete wholefood that contains ample amounts of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, seaweed can perform many immune-boosting functions when introduced to a daily diet. In the past, we've touched on its ability to mitigate high blood pressure, strengthen bones and even facilitate weight loss. Now, researchers in Israel have unearthed another potential benefit of seaweed for health.
According to Haaretz, an online news source reporting on the Middle East, scientists from Sheba Medical Center – the largest hospital in Israel – have devised a new treatment using a form of orange seaweed that could address one of the most prevalent causes of blindness in children: a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. This disorder, the source reports, is hereditary, and is characterized by the gradual restriction of a child's field of vision until they eventually lose all sight.
The scientists created a powder derived from the algae, which is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene. This compound is converted into Vitamin A in the body – a nutrient known for promoting eye health. This connection first led the researchers to speculate that tapping into this sea vegetable could reveal a potential treatment for retinitis pigmentosa.
Thirty patients with the condition were recruited for the study, some of whom received a placebo while others took the seaweed-based treatment. Overall, 34 percent of participants who were given the medication saw improvement, while no such progress was shown among the control group.
"The results of the study are encouraging, because until now there was no known treatment that improved the vision of those suffering from retinitis pigmentosa," lead researcher Dr. Ygal Rotenstreich said of the findings.
Seaweed is one of the most abundant natural resources on Earth, with thousands of varieties – many of which boast substantial health benefits. Seagreens® brown wrack seaweed is among the most nutritious types of this vegetation, and is wild-harvested in Grade A pristine waters in the Scottish Outer Hebrides.