Sea Vegetables for Health

Wild vegetables grow all over the earth and in the water. Dandelion greens, nettles, burdock are a few of the valuable and highly nutritious land vegetables that are easy to grow most anywhere.

Sea vegetables also grow both North and South. I do not know about the tropics, but all over the far north from Scotland to Nova Scotia to Siberia and Japan people have been harvesting plants from the sea since ancient times.

Lots of us are familiar now with the seaweed salad at the sushi bar. Sadly, most of the time what you are getting is sea vegetable with really bad artificial coloring. I also like to get sea veggies from suppliers, like Main Coast Sea Veggie and Eden Foods, that test for heavy metals and pesticide. What you don’t want is sea weed harvested around a nuclear power plant or in a bay of the coast of an industrial zone.

An excellent vegetable for beginners to use at home is called Kombu in Japanese. The botanical name is Laminaria japonica. Laminaria is the species, japonica is a variety. You can get other kinds of Laminaria, too.

Japanese Kombu is harvested in the cold waters off of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, where it grows wild. It is harvested by hand and dried in the sun.

Kombu is rich in natural MSG, not the kind that makes you ill. As such, it enhances the flavor of mild foods like beans, rice, soup, and even oatmeal. Claims are made that it makes beans more tender. Boiled, it is served as an appetizer in Japan, with ume plum vinegar or paste. It is very beautiful served this way alongside a slice of backed Kabocha squash.

My acupuncture patient in San Diego who is a sushi chef from Kyoto taught me that make short grain rice with a piece of Kombu in it. That also provides a bit of salt. I don’t otherwise salt my rice. Too much salt. I took that notion and started putting Kombu in my Oatmeal and really like eat.

Kombu is also an essential ingredient in “dashi”, the basic broth Japanese use for noodle and other soups. Kombu check this
It can be stewed in vegetables, deep fried as tempura, pickled, roasted in the oven and ground into powder to be added as a flavoring on noodles or rice or soup with roasted sesame seeds (gomasio). Try it on popcorn or sushi!
Chinese Medicine

In China sea vegetables are part of the cuisine, and in Chinese Medicine Kombu and Wakame sea veggies are used medicinally in decoctions for phlegm in the lungs caused or aggravated by the heat of febrile illness, especially when there is a feeling of fullness and obstruction in the chest caused by phlegm.

Because of their ability to soften hardness and reduce swelling, Kombu and Wakame are also excellent in cases of chronic lymphatic swelling such as you see with colds/flus/bronchitis, especially in which the person remains sick long after the initial illness, and has a swollen, painful throat, hard to swallow, and/or swollen lymph nodes. In Asia they are still used to treat scrofula and goiter; of course they are also high in iodine.

In my opinion Sea Veggies are excellent as food for those hot damp types that are prone to lipomas and various skin growths; as they decongest the lymphatic system, reduce swelling, and clear heat, they are excellent for people with chronic acne, eczema, or psoriasis.

While Sea Vegetables are very good year round (see my earlier entry on Arame Summer Salad) they are an excellent late autumn/winter food. They are said in Chinese Medicine to help strengthen the Kidney energy. Our body’s Qi has a seasonal bio-rhythm–that makes it circulates in the Kidneys during Winter. We also tend to eat more heavy and warming food in the winter, so sea veggies are one of the ways to prevent congestion of the tissues and channels.


Ayuvedically it is an excellent food for removing Ama/Digestive Toxins from the body, and for decongesting the lymphatic system and pacifying all three doshas–Vatta by its smooth, salty, softening quality, Kapha by its light decongesting quality, and Pitta by its soft, cooling nature. To be sure, this depends on moderate use within the context of a dosha appropriate diet.

Western Nutrition:

3.3 gms contains

potassium 170 mg
sodium 90 mg (that is only 4% of the DV)
fiber 1 gm
carb 1 gm
iodine 100% of DV
magnesium 6% of DV
calcium 2% of DV

How to Use:

Beans, Stews, Soups, Grains–Just put a small piece in with the other dry ingredient and boil away. Start small and get bigger with experience. I find I use about a 6×3″ piece for a pound beans or a large soup, half that for a small pot of rice or oatmeal.

Dashi — Japanese Soup Stock for Noodles or Miso


to be continued.

copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego https://www.bodymindwellnesscenter.com

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