Science of Fucoidan

Fucoidan Research

Fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide contained in brown algae, has been studied for many years.

In fact, more than 1400 independent, peer-reviewed research papers – encompassing in vitro investigations, animal studies and human clinical trials – have been published on the bioactive properties of fucoidan.[i]

Fucoidans isolated from different species have many biological activities, including:

  • Anticoagulant
  • Antithrombotic
  • Antivirus
  • Immunomodulatory
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Blood lipids
  • Antioxidant and anticomplementary properties
  • Activity against hepatopathy, uropathy and renalpathy
  • Gastric protective effects

Immune System Support

A number of high quality studies have explored fucoidan’s immunomodulatory effects, suggesting fucoidan has the potential to benefit the immune system in a number of ways.

Some of these effects include:
Influencing immune system modulation – in one study, regular consumption was able to proliferate harmful cells and give rise to the anti-pathogenic responses[ii].

Reducing allergic responses – fucoidan may be able to reduce allergic responses after ingestion[iii] and topical benefits have also been noted[iv].

Boosting anti-viral responses – research has looked at fucoidan’s ability to provide resistance to – or limit the extent of – viral infections such as influenza[v] and herpes[vi].

Increasing the immune response – in one randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 70 volunteers, supplementing with fucoidan from seaweed increased the immune response to seasonal influenza vaccine in elderly Japanese men and women[vii].


Research has suggested fucoidan is able to demonstrate therapeutic anti-inflammatory activity.

In one animal study, fucoidan prevented the progression of osteoarthritis[viii], while in another human trial, fucoidan decreased the symptoms of osteoarthritis in a dose-dependent manner when taken orally over a 12-week period[ix]. In this study, the researchers noted fucoidan was able to reduce pain perception, helping people with chronic arthritis to manage their daily activities with less pain.

Arthritis, in all its forms, is characterised by an increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines or cell-signalling molecules. Fucoidan is thought to help diminish cytokine production and infiltration of white blood cells, reducing overall severity[x].

In inflammatory disorders, such as psoriasis and colitis, there is an excessive presence of white blood cells known as leukocytes.

Several studies have indicated fucoidan can block the entry of leukocytes in cases where an oversupply of white blood cells can cause tissue damage.

Studies have also lined fucoidan with additional anti-inflammatory effects, including:

  • Reduced levels of interleukin-6 (a chronic inflammatory marker within the body).
  • Inhibition of various inflammatory mediators.

Digestive Health

Fucoidan has the potential to help manage stomach irritation and ulceration[xi] – both of which can be attributed to inflammation or bacterial infection.

In vitro findings suggested that fucoidan prevented harmful bacteria helicobacter pylori from binding to the wall of the gut.[xii] The only bacteria that survives in stomach acid, helicobacter pylori can cause upper gastrointestinal issues, such as peptic and duodenal ulcers and gastritis.

Fucoidan helped to promote ulcer healing by activating the peptide (bFGF) required for the healing of ulcers.[xiii] It has the potential to enhance gut health by improving gut lining and inflammation inhibiting gastric ulcers.

Fucoidan may also be able to increase the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, including Lactobacillus and Ruminococcaceae, whilst reducing inflammation.[xiv]

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and many other serious health concerns.

Consumption of fucoidan improved the pathological parameters of metabolic syndrome, namely decreases in waist circumference and blood pressure[xv].

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x and

xi    Fitton, H.J. Dr, an introduction to Maritech Fucoidan extracts, 2014 pg 5