URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/726.html


What is it?

Bladderwrack is a type of seaweed. People use the whole plant to make medicine.

Bladderwrack is used for many conditions, but, so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them. It’s also important to note that it’s not safe to take bladderwrack by mouth.

Bladderwrack is used for thyroid disorders including underactive thyroid (myxedema), over-sized thyroid gland (goiter), and iodine deficiency. It is also used for obesity, arthritis, joint pain, “hardening of the arteries” (arteriosclerosis), digestive disorders, heartburn, “blood cleansing,” constipation, bronchitis, emphysema, urinary tract disorders, and anxiety. Other uses include boosting the immune system and increasing energy.

Some people also apply bladderwrack to the skin for skin diseases, burns, aging skin, and insect bites.

Don’t confuse bladderwrack with bladderwort.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for BLADDERWRACK are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Obesity. Early research suggests that bladderwrack, used along with lecithin and vitamins, doesn’t help people lose weight and keep it off.
  • Thyroid problems, including an over-sized thyroid gland (goiter).
  • Iodine deficiency.
  • Arthritis.
  • Achy joints (rheumatism).
  • “Hardening of the arteries” (arteriosclerosis).
  • Digestive problems.
  • “Blood cleansing”.
  • Constipation.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate bladderwrack for these uses.

How does it work?

Bladderwrack, like many sea plants, contains varying amounts of iodine, which is used to prevent or treat some thyroid disorders. Bladderwrack products may contain varying amounts of iodine, which makes it an inconsistent source of iodine. Bladderwrack also contains algin, which can act as a laxative to help the stool pass through the bowels.

Are there safety concerns?

Bladderwrack is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin. Bladderwrack is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. It may contain high concentrations of iodine, which could cause or worsen some thyroid problems. Prolonged, high intake of dietary iodine is linked with goiter and increased risk of thyroid cancer. Treatment of thyroid problems should not be attempted without medical supervision.

Like other sea plants, bladderwrack can concentrate toxic heavy metals, such as arsenic, from the water in which it lives.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bladderwrack is LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Don’t use it.

Bleeding disorders: Bladderwrack might slow blood clotting. In theory, bladderwrack might increase the risk of bruising or bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Infertility: Preliminary research suggests that taking bladderwrack might make it harder for women to get pregnant.

Iodine allergy: Bladderwrack contains significant amounts of iodine, which could cause an allergic reaction in sensitive people. Don’t use it.

Surgery: Bladderwrack might slow blood clotting. There is a concern that it might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking bladderwrack at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Thyroid problems known as hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone), or hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone): Bladderwrack contains significant amounts of iodine, which might make hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism worse. Don’t use it.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
Bladderwrack can contain significant amounts of iodine. Iodine can affect the thyroid. Lithium might also affect the thyroid. Taking iodine along with lithium might increase the thyroid too much.
Medications for an overactive thyroid (Antithyroid drugs)
Bladderwrack can contain significant amounts of iodine. Iodine can affect the thyroid. Taking iodine along with medications for an overactive thyroid might decrease the thyroid too much. Do not take bladderwrack if you are taking medications for an overactive thyroid.

Some of these medications include methenamine mandelate (Methimazole), methimazole (Tapazole), potassium iodide (Thyro-Block), and others.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Bladderwrack might slow blood clotting. Taking bladderwrack along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Bladderwrack might slow blood clotting. Taking bladderwrack along with herbs that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, fenugreek, feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, poplar, red clover, turmeric, and others.
Bladderwrack contains alginate. Alginate can reduce the absorption of strontium. Taking bladderwrack with strontium supplements might reduce the absorption of strontium. It's too soon to know if this is a serious concern.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of bladderwrack depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bladderwrack. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Alga Noruega o Nudosa, Algue Laminaire, Ascophylle Noueuse, Ascophyllum nodosum, Atlantic Kelp, Black Tang, Bladder Fucus, Bladder Wrack, Blasentang, Chêne Marin, Cutweed, Fucus, Fucus Vésiculeux, Fucus vesiculosis, Goémon, Kelp, Kelpware, Kelp-Ware, Knotted Wrack, Laitue de Mer, Laitue Marine, Laminaire, Marine Oak, Meereiche, Norwegian Seaweed, Quercus Marina, Rockweed, Rockwrack, Schweintang, Sea Kelp, Seawrack, Tang, Varech, Varech Vésiculeux.


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.


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Last reviewed - 02/13/2015