Algin is a polysaccharide (a type of carbohydrate) derived from brown seaweed (from the genera Ascophyllum, Macrocystis and Laminaria) currently found in the North Atlantic basin. Seaweed has been used as food for humans and animals for thousands of years. Its derivatives have wide application in the food industry, the cosmetic industry, and in medicine and dentistry. In Asia, seaweed is relied on as a vegetable and fiber source, while the Western world has developed a tablet form to get the nutrients.
In folk medicine, algin is taken by mouth to prevent and treat high blood pressure. It is also used in foods such as candy, gelatins, puddings, condiments, relish, processed vegetables, fish products, and imitation products. In manufacturing, algin is used as a binding and disintegrating agent in tablets, as a binding and demulcent in lozenges, and as a film in peel-off facial masks.
Algin is often used to normalize bowel function. It has also been studied in combination with dietary fibers. Additional study is needed before any firm recommendations can be made about the safety or effectiveness of algin.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to algin and/or its derivatives.
Side Effects and Warnings
Currently, there is a lack of available scientific evidence regarding algin's safety and potential side effects. Algin is likely safe when taken by mouth in amounts typically found in foods. However, it is possibly unsafe when used in pregnant women. Laminaria digitata, a species which algin can be derived from, has been used as an aid in cervical dilation.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Algin is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to lack of available scientific evidence. Algin may cause abortion or dilate the cervix.
The fiber in algin may impair the body's ability to absorb oral drugs. Patients taking any medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before taking algin.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
The fiber in algin may impair the body's ability to absorb oral herbs and supplements. Patients taking any herbs or supplements should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before taking algin.
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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.