Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide that is found in various types of brown seaweeds. Approximately 4% of certain brown seaweeds contain Fucoidan. There are two types of Fucoidan, F-Fucoidan and U-Fucoidan.
The Potential Effects of Fucoidan
On Pubmed there are over 850 studies examining the use of Fucoidan. The following is a list of some of the possible benefits of Fucoidan:
- It may have anti-retroviral properties as it might block HIV-1 replication
- It may also be able to inhibit cell to cell contact and hence stop the spread of HTLV-1
- It may modulate the immune system
- It may stimulate production of the cytokine, interferon gamma
- It may increase Natural Killer cell levels
- It may increase T-Cell numbers
- It may increase antioxidant levels in the body
- It might have antiviral properties against the herpes simplex virus (including drug resistant strains of herpes) including effects against the human cytomegalovirus
- It may have antiviral properties against a range of other viruses
- It might be able to slow the rate of growth of leukemia cells
- It may be anti-coagulant
- It may help treat osteoarthritis
- It may reduce bodily inflammation
- It may have anti-tumour effects
- It may have anti-cancer effects for specific cancers (it caused apoptosis in human lymphoma cell lines)
- It may induce adult stem cell release from bone marrow
- It may reduce the transmission levels of sexually transmitted diseases
- It may reduce allergic reactions
Possible Negative of Taking Fucoidan
1. A study was performed in which the first group of rats were given Fucoidan as a pre-treatment while the second group were not. Both groups of rats were infected with meningitis and then given an antibiotic. 21 out of 45 of the group of rats that took Fucoidan died compared to 5 deaths out of the 29 rats that were not given Fucoidan. The abstract of this study can be found here: http://gateway.nlm.nih.gov/MeetingAbstracts/ma?f=102265296.html
2. Many of the possible benefits of Fucoidan listed above are based on in vitro or in vivo in mice studies. The results of these studies don’t always translate into comparable results in vivo in humans. Conclusions on how Fucoidan may affect various human diseases may therefore be premature.
3. Based on the dose of Fucoidan I will be taking (see the ‘dose’ section below) Fucoidan will cost me approximately $400 Australian per month. This is very expensive for a supplement without proven mechanisms against CFS. The Fucoidan would be much cheaper if I took it at a lower dose however the effects of Fucoidan may be dose dependant (see the study in the dose section below.)
4. There are only a handful of anecdotal reports online of CFS patients taking Fucoidan. These reports are almost identical in that no follow up of Fucoidan treatment is provided and Fucoidan was only taken at a low dose. It is therefore somewhat experimental for me to be taking Fucoidan at a high dose.
Possible Responses to the Negatives of Taking Fucoidan
1. The rats Fucoidan study, is the only “negative” Fucoidan study that I could find out of over 850 Fucoidan studies on Pubmed. As I do not have meningitis, there is little risk involved in me taking Fucoidan. Also many studies have determined that Fucoidan is completely safe to take. Out of the thousands of people who have taken Fucoidan, I have not read of any adverse side effects to it.
2. Although most of the Fucoidan studies are in vitro or in vivo (in mice), there are still many human Fucoidan studies. These studies have produced many favourable results indicating that many of the in vitro and in vivo (in mice) effects may translate into comparable results in humans.
3. Although Fucoidan is expensive, it is a treatment that I haven’t tried to date. I am taking it as a secondary treatment at the moment, concurrent with Fludrocortisone. I do not consider Fucoidan to be a serious CFS treatment and am hence only taking it on the side, next to more conventional and prescription CFS treatments. Other than money, there is very little to lose by trying Fucoidan as a treatment.
4. There is not enough data to determine if Fucoidan is effective in any way for CFS patients. Although Fucoidan for CFS is somewhat more experimental that other CFS treatments, the Fucoidan safety aspect confirmed by numerous studies makes Fucoidan not dangerously experimental.
I am taking Fucoidan in capsule form. It is also available in various other forms such as gel and liquid however tablets seem to contain the highest dosage of Fucoidan. My source of Fucoidan contains 35% of U-Fucoidan and 11% of F-Fucoidan per 600mg tablet. Not enough human dosage studies of Fucoidan have been performed to determine optimal dosage levels. For illnesses with a well defined cohort such as cancers, various websites recommend differing daily dosages, hence there is not much consensus regarding specific illness dosages. The dosage I will be taking is based on an Osteoarthritis study in which Fucoidan was assigned to two groups. The first group took 100mg a day while the second group took 1000mg per day. Both groups took Fucoidan for 12 weeks. The average COAT score of group 1 was reduced by 18% while the average COAT score of group 2 was reduced by 52%. Other studies support this study’s conclusion in that the effects of Fucoidan are dose dependant. I will therefore be taking approximately 1000mg of Fucoidan per day. This is the same dose as group 2 in the Osteoarthritis study. Fucoidan has been deemed as safe at this dose by several studies. I will be taking Fucoidan for 8 weeks and possibly longer if it has any positive effects on me.
I started taking Fucoidan on the 10th of September 2010 and gradually increased the dose to a maximum dose of approximately 1000mg. I plan to take Fucoidan for 8 weeks. I take 4 capsules of Fucoidan with breakfast and 4 capsules of Fucoidan with lunch every day.
Many of the possible effects of Fucoidan have the potential to benefit CFS patients. Despite this, I could not find any evidence online that CFS patients have benefited from taking Fucoidan. I am being somewhat of a guineapig (although not taking much of a risk) by taking Fucoidan at such a high dose as a CFS patient. I will blog again in the coming weeks about whether Fucoidan had any effect on me.