Algae may not sound appealing, but many species of this marine plant are wonderful for promoting human health. In fact, one study shows that a brown alga has an ingredient that can stop cartilage degeneration in joints. This is great news for the millions of adults worried about losing mobility to worsening joint discomfort and stiffness.
Approximately 90 percent of all people over 65 have some degree of joint degradation, primarily the cartilage, which serves to help lubricate the joints and cushion against the bones. This can be extremely painful for sufferers, because inflammatory reactions are associated with cartilage degeneration. In the later stages of arthritis, bones are no longer adequately protected and can directly rub against each other; it typically affects knees, hips and fingers.
Conventional anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers mainly address the symptoms. And some people opt to regain mobility through surgical knee or hip replacements.
In laboratory tests, researchers identified a compound — polysaccharide alginate extracted from the stems of cuvie (Laminaria hyperborean), a brown alga — similar to extracellular molecules in cartilage, and which has potential to cause cessation of cartilage degeneration in joints.
In the in vitro study, researchers modified the alginate with sulfate groups then added it in dissolved form to cell cultures to examine the reaction of various cell types to the modified polysaccharide. Alginate sulfate was shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress, a common cause of cell damage and cell death; further, the more sulfate groups that were attached to the alginate molecule, the greater this reduction was.
The study also showed that alginate sulfate was able to suppress the inflammatory reaction, likewise also depending on the number of sulfate groups, and was able to down-regulate the expression of genes that trigger an inflammatory reaction in both chondrocytes (cells specific to cartilage), and in macrophages, the “scavenger cells” of the immune system. The algal molecules should therefore slow down cartilage degeneration. “The hope is that they can even stop this degeneration,” stated researcher Markus Rottmar.
At Herbsea, we are very excited about this emerging research. We know earth’s waters offer a treasure trove of healthy gifts for us (and our companion animals, too). As such, we developed our distinctive Fucosea — a multi-marine-source dietary supplement containing health-promoting polysaccharides, and is perfect for vegans and vegetarians.
Anne Kerschenmeyer, et al. “Anti-oxidant and immune-modulatory properties of sulfated alginate derivatives on human chondrocytes and macrophages.” Biomater. Sci., 2017; 5 (9): 1756