Drugs A - Z
Algina (Ascophyllum nodosum)
Generic Name: alginic acid
Brand Names: Sodium Alginate
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Alginates, alginic acid, Ascophyllum nodosum, Fermion gas, Laminaria digitata, Lessoniaceae (family), Macrocystis pyrifera, sodium alginate.
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.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: 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.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: 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.
Abortion, bowel function improvement, cervical dilation, diabetes, gastric ulcers, healing of colonic anastomoses, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertension (high blood pressure), ocular fillings, reducing absorption of strontium/barium/tin/cadmium/manganese/zinc/mercury, tissue replacement, wound healing, wound infection.
Adults (18 years and older)
Safety, efficacy, and dosing have not been systematically studied in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years)
Safety, efficacy, and dosing have not been systematically studied in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
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
Interactions with Drugs
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.
This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Chi Dam, PharmD (Northeastern University); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dana Hackman, BS (Northeastern University); Tamara Milkin, PharmD (Northeastern University); Phoung Ngo PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Lisa Wendt, PharmD (University of Albany); Jen Woods, BS (Northeastern University).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Basta G, Falorni A, Osticioli L, et al. Method for mass retrieval, morphologic, and functional characterization of adult porcine islets of Langerhans: a potential nonhuman pancreatic tissue resource for xenotransplantation in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Investig Med 1995;43(6):555-566.
Brunetti P, Basta G, Faloerni A, et al. Immunoprotection of pancreatic islet grafts within artificial microcapsules. Int J Artif Organs 1991;14(12):789-791.
Calafiore R, Calcinaro F, Basta G, et al. A method for the massive separation of highly purified, adult porcine islets of Langerhans. Metabolism 1990;39(2):175-181.
Calafiore R. Transplantation of microencapsulated pancreatic human islets for therapy of diabetes mellitus. A preliminary report. ASAIO J 1992;38(1):34-37.
Hashem F, Ramadan E, el Said Y. Effect of suspending agents on the characteristics of some anti-inflammatory suspensions. Pharmazie 1987;42(11):732-735.
Mokady S. Effect of dietary pectin and algin on blood cholesterol level in growing rats fed a cholesterol-free diet. Nutr Metab 1973;15(4):290-294.
Mokady S. Effect of dietary pectin and algin on the biosynthesis of hepatic lipids in growing rats. Nutr Metab 1974;16(4):203-207.
Petrov AP, Molodtsov NV. [Effect of acid polysaccharides on the corticosteroid biosynthesis]. Probl Endokrinol (Mosk) 1978;24(3):99-103.
Rubin B. Laminaria digitata: a checkered career. Econ Bot 1977;31(1):66-71.
Stevens RA, Levin RE. Viscometric assay of bacterial alginase. Appl Environ Microbiol 1976;31(6):896-899.
Tasdelen A, Algin C, Ates E, et al. Effect of leptin on healing of colonic anastomoses in rats. Hepatogastroenterology 2004;51(58):994-997.
Ushakov RV, Dugarov BD, Iakubovich VS, et al. [The use of alginic acid-based preparations for treating suppurative wounds of the maxillofacial area and neck]. Stomatologiia (Mosk) 1991;(5):46-47.
von Riesen VL. Digestion of algin by Pseudomonas maltophilia and Pseudomonas putida. Appl Environ Microbiol 1980;39(1):92-96.
Wu J, Peng SS. Comparison of hypolipidemic effect of refined konjac meal with several common dietary fibers and their mechanisms of action. Biomed Environ Sci 1997;10(1):27-37.
Zhang Y, Zheng Z, Zeng X, et al. [Antisteatotic effects of four kinds of dietary fibers in rats fed on high cholesterol diet: a preliminary morphometric analysis]. Hua Xi Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao 1992;23(1):75-78.