The Myths Surrounding Seaweed Body Wraps: Are They For Real?

Long touted to reduce inches and erase cellulite, here are some real compelling reasons to seek out these organic spa treatments.  And don’t forget seaweed baths at home too.

Seaweed body wraps have been a mainstay of most resort destination spas as well as urban day spas for the past three decades.  It is a must on any spa menu for the treatment of cellulite and slimming.  Typically ads promise the reduction of inches and the smoothing of cellulite with each wrap.  Many of these claims are a bit farfetched to say the least; at least most seaweed wraps leave your skin more radiant and after all, it is a most relaxing experience.

You might be surprised to learn however that seaweed body wraps are far more worthy of your attention.  They play an important role in your health and quality of life that is becoming more needed today.

Every sickness, every disease can be traced to a mineral deficiency

Someone famous in Dr. Linus Pauling, Nobel Laureate 1954

Seaweed is a virtual storehouse of vital minerals and trace elements.  Why this is relevant becomes more evident when we consider that the modern diet in America today is impoverished in terms of these vital elements.  Studies conducted by the University of Austin (Texas) reveal that it would take two potatoes today to equal the iron found in one potato harvested in 1950.  The same is true with levels of magnesium, potassium, selenium, iodine and many more elements that are vital to good health.  And if we take Dr. Pauling’s warning seriously, this total devitalization of American produce is the root to the epidemic spread of degenerative diseases.

To prove the point, we can examine the case for iodine.  This element plays an important role in the regulation of the thyroid and its hormones.  Accepted wisdom says that the RDA of iodine is 160 International Units (IU’s) per day.  That is fine if all you want to do is prevent goiter.  But this element does more…much more.  According to studies conducted at UCLA under Dr. Guy Abraham et al, iodine is linked to reproductive health.  In fact, their studies claim that breast cancer and uterine cancer can be classified as “iodine-deficiency” diseases which support Dr. Pauling’s claim that each disease can be traced to a mineral deficiency.

To underscore why iodine is so necessary (more today than ever), Dr. Abraham cites that due to the high levels of levels of bromides found in the baking of bread.   Bromides which replaced iodine in baking bread, inhibit the assimilation of iodine in our diet.  So even if you are consuming the minimum RDA of iodine, bromides may actually be creating a deficiency in this vital element…..along with fluorides and chlorides.

So how much iodine is optimum for health and cancer prevention. The Japanese RDA for iodine is not the paltry 160 IU’s prescribed in the United States; rather their recommended daily allowance is a staggering 10,000 IU’s daily.  Their main source of iodine is seaweed.  Seaweed consumption per adult is about 80-90 grams (3 oz.) per day.  Kombu which is akin to Laminaria algae used in body wraps, is the richest source of iodine consumed and other vital trace elements.

The question is:  Can essential minerals and elements found in seaweed penetrate through to skin’s defensive barrier to enter into the bloodstream and nourish your body transdermally?  This was the subject of numerous studies in France in the early 1960’s.  Researchers at the University of Rennes in Brittany France conducted experiments on rats  to seek an answer.  500 rats were bathed in a solution of seawater and seaweed for 20 minutes using an isotope of iodine as a trace.  The result was that traces of the iodine were found in the liver and kidneys of the subjects after a mere 20 minute bath.  These tests were repeated at the University of Bordeaux with the same result.  These and other studies support the use of seawater and seaweed treatments in the thalassotherapy spas of Europe.  Patients come to these spas to take the “cure” where they are immersed in seawater and wrapped with seaweed under medical supervision.

More recently, researchers in the United States have shed some light on the subject of penetration of elements through the skin.  In his book, “Skin Permeation,” Joel Zatz Ph.D, * explains:

“Although early investigators thought that the skin was totally impermeable, we now realize that a few substances overcome the resistance of the epidermis rather easily and most make steady, slow progress through the skin… is now possible to get better, more precise information on the uptake of and trans-cutaneous movement of molecules than in the past.”  He further states that improved analytical methods can actually quantify sometime infinitesimal amounts of various elements that break through the skin’s barrier.

If the skin is a barrier, how do these molecules break through to nourish your body?  The answer lies with two factors:

  1. Bio-compatibility: Seawater and human blood plasma are chemically and qualitatively identical.  Simply put, pure seawater mixed with three parts fresh water is the original saline solution.  The mineral composition of seawater is identical to that of the human body making it (seawater) indistinguishable from your own blood plasma and lymph.
  2. Molecular Weight: The miniscule size of minerals and vital trace elements such as copper, zinc, iodine, manganese and iron for example, make the diffusion through the skin easy.  To illustrate the point, see the sidebar:



Here is a way of looking at the human body in a different way to explain just how minerals can penetrate easily through the skin’s barrier).  We can all agree that human cells are invisible to the naked eye.  (There are an estimated 60 trillion cells living in our bodies by the way)  The same holds true for minerals, proteins, amino acids, etc.  All of them are invisible.  And to our way of looking at it, pretty much the same size—microscopic–invisible.  Now imagine if we were to increase the size of the human body to the size of planet Earth, the:

  • Cells such as liver and muscle cells would be like the Rocky Mountains of Planet Earth—very large
  • Large chain amino acids and proteins would be like Skyscrapers in New York City—large but no where the size of mountains
  • Minerals and Trace Elements however, would be like the grains of sand on the beach—quite small and insignificant compared to skyscrapers or mountains

It is easy to imagine that one would have great difficulty penetrating a 50 storied building through a mountain pass, but would have no trouble penetrating one grain of sand.  Your body is a veritable universe consisting of 60 trillion of these Rocky Mountains that each contain billions of trillions of minerals and essential elements—a number too infinite to compute.

When Veggies are Junk Food

Studies published by the Ministry of Agriculture in the United Kingdom along with those from the University of Austin demonstrate unequivocally that today’s fruits and vegetables contain a fraction of the nutritional value they had 60 years ago.  It can be argued that the produce section of your supermarket can share the same shelves as junk food.  Where have all the minerals gone?  Part of the answer can be found in our topsoil

According to 1992 Earth Summit statistics taken from a website www.american, and U.S. Senate Document # 262, the mineral content of the world’s topsoil has decreased dramatically.  Below is a listing by continent of the mineral depletion from the soil during the past 100 years by continent:

  • North America 85 percent
  • South America 76 percent
  • Asia 76 percent
  • Africa 74 percent
  • Europe 72 percent
  • Australia 55 percent

So now the answer to our question is evident.  How can the produce that is grown in our mineral-impoverished soils contain nutritional value?  The answer is obvious.  So we turn to seaweed as a nutritional supplement to restore and replenish those  and elements missing in our diet.  And we turn to seaweed to replenish our topsoil.  But that is beyond the scope of this article.

Seaweed Replenishment

There is no food on the planet more abundant in minerals and trace elements than seaweed.  This is especially true of the brown algae such as Laminaria, Fucus and Ascophyllum species most often used in body treatments along with a special calcareous algae rich in calcium and magnesium known as Lithothamnium.  I gallon of fresh micronized seaweed powder offers the equivalent of 10,000 liters of seawater in trace elements of copper, zinc, manganese, iodine and selenium.  All of these elements can and do penetrate the skin’s barrier to provide nutritional supplementation when used in body wraps and baths.  Imagine that you can fight osteoporosis just by bathing in seaweed 2 times a week to get your calcium and magnesium!

There’s More:

Seaweed wraps and bath treatments are also invaluable in providing detoxification.  The magnesium and calcium levels of seaweed are decongesting, promote the elimination of trapped fluids and toxins that cause inflammation and contribute to cellulite.  Seaweed treatments improve the mico-capillary circulation to bring fresh nutrients and oxygen to the affected tissues.  The result is healthier cells that are more radiant.  The skin looks even in tone and firmer.

The lesson for spas is that there are sound scientific arguments to be made for promoting seaweed body treatments and at-home bath rituals to achieve optimum health.

Various Marine Algae and their benefits

The Spa Technologies offers two programs to restore vital minerals to rejuvenate aging skin and tone up bodies.  Body wraps containing various species of seaweed are nature’s best remedy for fighting cellulite and other conditions such as water retention and aging skin.  Below are some of the seaweeds we use in our treatments:

Lithothamnium White Algae drives in calcium to drain away trapped fluids, reduce congestion and alleviate the symptoms of PMS and bloat.

Laminaria Brown Algae is iodine rich to stimulate the metabolism of fat and contains copper, zinc and manganese to stimulate collagen synthesis.

Fucus Brown Algae offers many of the same benefits as Laminaria algae but with a lower dose of iodine.

Porphyra Red Algae contains essential fatty acids and amino acids for their super hydrating qualities and their ability to protect cell membranes against free radical damage.

Spirulina Blue-Green Algae provide a chlorophyll rich antioxidant that also enhances the aesthetics of the body treatment.

Irish Moss Red Algae provide super moisturization when used in seaweed gel masks.  They are anti-inflammatory and excellent when used on sunburned skin.

Used in spa treatments, these seaweeds also help to rid the body of impurities that congest circulation and are believed to aggravate the onset of cellulite.

The benefits of this therapy are only effective when incorporated into our daily hygiene.  The At-Home Spa Cure continues a mild detoxification and remineralization of the skin.  This regimen consists of remineralizing seaweed baths, aromatherapy oils, slimming and firming creams, herbal teas and seaweed supplements.  The At-Home Spa Cure consists of two programs:  Women’s Balancing and Detox:

Women’s Rebalancing:  Addresses problems associated with circulation and water retention due to hormonal imbalance and lymphatic congestion.  Congestion is at the root of many ailments such as PMS, menopause-related skin aging and heavy legs.  Transdermal penetration of calcium, magnesium and silica help drain the lymph system and relieve symptoms of PMS and bloat.

Treatment regimen calls for twice weekly baths with Sea Cal Bath powder and Drainage Oil consisting of Clary Sage, Cypress and Juniper that promotes elimination of trapped fluids and hormonal balancing.  Following the bath, Anti-Fluid Gel is applied to affected areas of water retention.  The Seaweed Firming Cream is applied over the body to tone sagging skin and moisturize.

Seaweed Vital Energy capsules rich in calcium, magnesium and iron are taken daily on an empty stomach to restore electrolytes followed by our Women’s balancing teas to act as a gently diuretic.

Detox:  Seaweed baths provide intensive remineralization using Laminaria algae rich in trace elements and iodine to stimulate metabolism and promote detoxification through hydro-lymphatic drainage.  These toxins may be byproducts of metabolism or the result of nutrition and the environment.  Ionizing minerals found in the bath powder neutralize free radicals responsible for many common afflictions and aches and pains. Our blend of essential oils works on the liver and intestines to restore purity to the body’s eco-system and promote a more youthful lifestyle.

Treatment regimen calls for twice weekly baths with Sea Detox Bath powder and Detox Oil consisting of Cinnamon, Ylang Ylang and Rosemary that promotes elimination of trapped toxins found in the liver and intestines.  Following the bath, the Laminaria Replenishing Extract is applied to affected areas of localized fatty deposits (hips, abdomen, thighs and upper arms).  The Seaweed Firming Cream is applied over the body to tone sagging skin and moisturize.

Sea Detox seaweed capsules rich in Potassium, trace elements, iodine and muco-polysaccharides are taken daily with meals to restore electrolytes followed by our Detox balancing teas to help to purify the liver and increase metabolism of fats.

Skin Permeation., (Allured Publishing Corporation, Wheaton, Illinois, 1993J, Joel Katz, Ph D.