Missing those balmy days at the beach now the cold weather has arrived? Recreate the sea’s power with a seaweed baths, which promise a range of benefits for post-workout muscle recovery…
If your main association with seaweed is a squelchy green plant to avoid stepping on at the beach, it’s time to think again. That tangled green mess has a wealth of benefits. This ranges from lowering stress to easing skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Indeed, research shows brown seaweed even has the potential to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Likewise, the laminaria and sargassum species are used as a cancer treatment in China. The humble sea vegetable can benefit your fitness, too. In fact, athletes such as World Freediving Champion Claire Walsh taking seaweed baths to soothe sore muscles.
Benefits of seaweed for post-workout muscle recovery
Used therapeutically for more than 300 years in Ireland, it’s easy to see why seaweed has a range of uses. More than 80 per cent of the plant is made up of essential minerals, vitamins and other bioactive compounds. Today, more than 145 varieties of seaweed are used worldwide, either as food, supplements or for therapeutic bathing, with many boasting unique properties.
‘Fucus serratus, for example, survives by filtering the ocean for nutrients, thereby absorbing a huge amount of minerals and vitamins; laminaria digitata has anti-inflammatory properties; fucus vesiculosis releases polysaccharides [a type of carbohydrate] such as alginic acid and iodine; and himanthalia elongate provides high levels of vitamins and essential amino acids,’ explain the experts at Irish wellbeing brand Voya, who use these four species in their spas.
How seaweed baths works:
Seaweed is rich in antioxidants – brown seaweed gets its colour from the antioxidant fucoxanthin, for example. This plays a role in helping improve blood sugar control and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Other benefits, such as inhibiting cancer tumours in animals, come courtesy of the plant’s long-chained polysaccharides.
From a fitness perspective, however, it is seaweed’s iodine content that’s considered the most beneficial. The essential trace mineral plays a vital role in health of your thyroid. This gland that regulates many bodily functions including metabolism and energy levels, as well as the health of your bones and muscles.
The recommended intake for iodine is 140-150 micrograms (mcg) a day. However, a poor diet, or one low in dairy or seafood, could mean your levels will be low. The good news is research shows seaweed baths significantly increase your body’s ability to absorb iodine.
Reap the benefits of a seaweed bath
WF writer Mary Comber tried a Voya Detox Seaweed Bath (£60) in The Copper Tub at the Old Dairy Retreat, Oxfordshire.
‘As I sunk into the warm bath filled with Voya’s organic, fucus serratus seaweed, I was amazed how soft and elemental the water felt (thanks to the minerals). I wrapped the silky fronds around my body and relaxed for 20 minutes, soaking up restorative sensations and the uplifting aroma of the sea. Afterwards, my skin felt incredibly moisturised and my circulation was racing. I slept soundly and, the following day, my eyes were brighter and dark circles reduced.’
If there’s not a seaweed treatment available near you, why not create your own therapeutic seaweed session at home? We love Voya Lazy Days Detoxifying Seaweed Bath (£21 for two baths), which contains 100 per cent hand-harvested organic fucus serratus.