Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Ecklonia Cava: Brown Algae for Better Health?

I received literature in the mail promoting Ecklonia cava as a supplement for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and as an antioxidant. Is there any evidence that this supplement can help in all of these areas? 

Answer (Published 7/20/2010)

Not that I know of. Ecklonia cava is a species of brown algae found off the coasts of Japan, Korea and China. Supplements in extract form are being aggressively promoted online as the answer to a wide range of disorders from cancer to insomnia to Gulf War syndrome and obesity. But I've seen no medical evidence that supports any of the many claims made for it. Ecklonia cava is said to be higher in antioxidants than green tea, red wine, and other known sources of these health protective compounds.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

If you're eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, you should already be getting plenty of antioxidants. Remember these micronutrients include:

  • beta-carotene in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables
  • lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit
  • anthocyanins in blueberries and other blue and purple fruits and vegetables
  • lutein, zeaxanthin and other carotenoids found in carrots and leafy greens.

Green tea provides important antioxidants called catechins, and red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant from the skin of grapes. Chocolate and olive oil contain similar compounds (polyphenols) to those in red wine and green tea. A quality daily multivitamin can help fill in nutritional gaps, but will not make up for a poor diet.

If you're concerned about your cholesterol, your best bet is to lose weight if necessary, decrease the amount of saturated fat in your diet, get regular exercise, don't smoke and follow my cholesterol recommendations. You may be able to lower your blood pressure with lifestyle changes and by taking the supplements I recommend.

Brown algae is just the latest in a long list of products based on clever marketing without any real science. Be skeptical of claims that you can achieve good health by taking any supplement said to deliver improbably wide-ranging results. Most of the time, the only change you'll observe is a lightening of your wallet.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here