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Treating Cellulite With Bladderwrack: Does It Work?

Brittany Kline
By: Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor  |  Brittany Kline

What Is Bladderwrack?

Bladderwrack is a type of seaweed that lives in the below the frigid waters of North America’s oceans, as well as the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic shores of Europe. It goes by many names, such as dyers fucus, rock wrack, bladder fucus, rockweed, sea oak, black tang, cut weed, kelp-ware, marina, meeriche and red fucus. 

No matter the name, this seaweed is characterized by large air-filled pods attached to the main stem, or thallus. These pods are also known as bladders, hence the most common name, Bladderwrack. The bladders help to keep the seaweed afloat. While sometimes mistaken for common kelp, they are two very different plants, and the association should be avoided.

When it was originally discovered, Bladderwrack was utilized mainly as a source of iodine and treated iodine deficiency and related diseases. As iodine is a primary element in thyroid function, Bladderwrack was originally intended to treat thyroid-related diseases such as myxedema (underactive thyroid) and goiters (oversized thyroid glands). Now, it has been discovered to have far more uses, both medically and cosmetically. 

Bladderwrack As a Supplement

Bladderwrack is notably different from other types of seaweed due to its air-filled pods, or bladders.

Bladderwrack is highly effective as a stimulant for the thyroid gland because it contains a high concentration of iodine— which is an essential nutrient for proper thyroid gland function. But its use now goes far beyond this original intention. It is also a component in many formulas for weight loss because it contains a high concentration of polyphenols, minerals, and polysaccharides, which increase the body’s metabolism. It can be dried and ground, then taken in pill form as a supplement to gain these benefits. Take care to note, however, that raw bladderwrack should not be consumed as it could be dangerous.

There is also a very high amount of fucoidin naturally occurring in Bladderwrack. These are sulfated polysaccharides, and can be found in most common brown seaweed. Research says that fucoidan can regulate inflammatory responses, as well as support the immune system and good gut bacteria. Bladderwrack also includes such helpful and necessary minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. 

When taken orally as a supplement in a controlled capsule or powdered form, Bladderwrack can do incredible things, such as improve vision. Thanks to the high concentration of beta-carotene, Bladderwrack can stave off macular degeneration and help to prevent or slow the development of cataracts. This can help not only improve our vision, but keep that vision as sharp as possible for as long as possible. 

Herbal supplements are one of the most popular ways to use Bladderwrack today.

In addition, as a supplement, because Bladderwrack can reduce inflammation, it is  an effective treatment for joint pain, gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, or skin irritation. It can reduce the irritation, ease any swelling, and even help reduce some of the pain. It may even have anticancer properties, though scientific study is still underway to definitively prove exactly what those may be. 

And believe it or not, Bladderwrack’s internal uses don’t stop there: it also works as an expectorant, nutritive, demulcent, diuretic, metabolic, and anti-rheumatic stimulant. In English, that means that Bladderwrack can firm up a loose cough, provide necessary nutrition to the body, relieve internal irritation due to mucus, absorb excess water, speed up the metabolism, and stimulate the fluids which separate joints to relieve joint pain.

Bladderwrack As a Topical Application for Cellulite

Bladderwrack components are also often ground and added to topically applied creams.

That’s all amazing, but how can Bladderwrack help cellulite? Well, aside from all of the benefits this seaweed brings to the table when ingested, it does even more when used topically. Most often, Bladderwrack in topical applications is seen as a main ingredient in creams and lotions, paired with other similar or helpful ingredients to boost its natural properties. Bladderwrack is considered safe to apply topically.

Because it is a diuretic, Bladderwrack can wick away excess moisture. That means that if your body or any portion of your skin is retaining unnecessary water, Bladderwrack can safely remove it. When applied in a cream form, this plant extract can eliminate fluid buildup that is trapped between skin layers and fat cells, which is one of the leading causes of visible cellulite. 

Cellulite is a result of enlarged fat cells, but sometimes even shedding pounds won’t get rid of the lumps.

As previously mentioned, Cellulite is partially caused by fluid trapped between fat cells beneath the skin. This buildup of fluid increases the visibility of these large deposits of fat, resulting in that puckered “cottage cheese” or “orange peel” appearance that so many are constantly trying to eliminate. Most often, we see this on the areas of our body with the highest concentrations of fat, like our buttocks, thighs, upper arms, and stomachs.

Bladderwrack also stimulates the circulation of blood, which helps reduce cellulite as well. Blood flow to cellulite-ridden areas can help to soften the tightened subcutaneous fibers which connect the epidermis to the muscle. And in addition to all of this, it even encourages the production of collagen, the key ingredient to keeping skin supple, soft, and looking youthful as ever. The result 

The result? Cellulite creams with bladderwrack do double the work when it comes to reducing cellulite.

DIY scrubs are all the rage. Store yours in an air-tight jar to keep it fresh and effective. 

While creams including Bladderwrack abound, if you are an avid DIYer and want to make your own at-home solution, that is very possible as well. You can purchase dried or fresh Bladderwrack online. Blend the Bladderwrack with a little water and strong coffee, including grounds for an extra kick, until you achieve a paste. Place the paste between two layers of gauze and apply to your most troublesome areas for up to 20 minutes daily. It can be a little messy, particularly the removal and clean-up, but a little at-home spa treatment is worth it for a treat now and again.

Bladderwrack is very easy to find in powdered form in most health supply stores, or natural food stores. Some also offer extracts as well, though they seem a bit harder to source locally. Powder is more effective for topical treatments, while extracts work well when taken orally. You can add either to bath water, DIY wraps, facial or body scrubs or salts, and reap the skin detoxing benefits.

What Else Can I do to Reduce My Cellulite?

Spas are expensive but making time for a little DIY at-home spa treatment can be just as effective.

There are almost as many purported treatments for Cellulite as there are potential causes, but not all of them are as effective as they might claim. If a cellulite cream doesn’t include Bladderwrack or Bladderwrack extract, it might be best to look for another option. In addition to creams, diet and exercise are always beneficial to the body, though those alone won’t get rid of some stubborn cellulite. Massage is a very helpful option, since it stimulates blood flow. When combined with the right cellulite cream, it can be extremely effective. 

There are always the more invasive, surgical options available too. Lasers, liposuction, lifts, and plenty others will claim to cure cellulite instantly. But the truth is, there is no instant cure. Surgery may be able to improve the look quickly, but it is a short-term solution, and comes with the highest cost, both monetarily and physically. There is also a potential for scarring and disfigurement, which are much worse than a few bumps ever were in the first place. Ultimately, almost everyone has cellulite, and while it is perfectly okay to want to be rid of it, we suggest against going to surgical extremes. 

Pretty packaging can be deceiving; always read the ingredients label before buying!

There are a large variety of other treatment options available on the market today. The best combination for you may differ from someone else, but from what we have found, anti-cellulite creams containing Bladderwrack are the best way to tackle cellulite. These creams are all unique, each with some special ingredient that claims to reduce or eliminate cellulite. Some are incredibly effective, while others fall short and can be rather lackluster, to say the least. So, how do you know which cream will work for you? A good place to start is our cellulite cream comparison chart, which gives you an easy-to-understand report card of all the top anti-cellulite products on the market.

Also, be sure to check out our cellulite cream review and our other articles for all of your health and beauty needs!

Brittany Kline
Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor
We sent Brittany to venture across the world in search of discovering basically the world's best products and then bringing those back to you. She has documented all her research so you can receive the most vital information and latest innovations in beauty.
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