Ecklonia Cava Health Benefits and Uses

Seaweed, Brown Algae, Kelp, Giant Kelp, Phaeophyceae on the beach in Northern California, USA
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Ecklonia cava is a species of algae. The extracts are available in dietary supplement form. A type of brown algae, Ecklonia cava is found off the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China. When consumed as a dietary supplement, Ecklonia cava is said to treat a variety of health problems.

Studies show that Ecklonia cava contains a number of compounds with antioxidant and antibacterial effects. Ecklonia cava also contains phlorotannins, a class of compounds with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.


In alternative medicine, Ecklonia Cava is touted as a natural remedy for the following health conditions:

In addition, Ecklonia cava is said to stimulate the immune system, support weight loss, boost sports performance, promote hair growth, lower stress levels, and fight some forms of cancer, according to some alternative medicine proponents.

Health Benefits 

While scientific support for Ecklonia cava's purported health effects is fairly limited, some studies suggest that it can offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on Ecklonia cava.

High Cholesterol

Ecklonia cava may help keep cholesterol in check, according to a clinical trial published in Phytotherapy Research in 2012. For the study, 97 overweight men and women took a dietary supplement containing a high dose of Ecklonia cava, a dietary supplement containing a low dose of Ecklonia cava, or a placebo every day for 12 weeks.

At the end of the treatment period, members of both groups given Ecklonia cava showed a significantly greater improvement in cholesterol levels (as well as in such markers as waist circumference and body fat ratio) than members of the placebo group. In addition, those given the high dose of Ecklonia cava showed a significantly greater decrease in systolic blood pressure (compared to those given the placebo).


Preliminary research suggests that Ecklonia cava may aid in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. For instance, a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2013 found that dieckol (a phlorotannin derived from Ecklonia cava) helped to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic mice.

What's more, a rat-based study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry in 2012 found that dieckol may help control diabetes in part by reducing oxidative stress.


Ecklonia cava shows promise in the treatment of osteoarthritis, suggests a study published in Archives of Pharmacal Research in 2006. In a series of laboratory tests on human cells, scientists found that phlorotannin-rich extracts of Ecklonia cava may help fight osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation.


A preliminary study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy in 2008 indicates that Ecklonia cava may help protect against asthma. In tests on mice, researchers found that Ecklonia cava helped reduce the airway inflammation associated with asthmatic reactions.

Sports Performance

Ecklonia cava may help boost endurance during the athletic performance, according to a small study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2010. In an experiment involving 20 men ages 18 to 23, the study's authors observed that those who consumed a drink enriched with Ecklonia cava extract 30 minutes prior to exercising had a greater improvement in endurance than those given a placebo drink before working out.


Because few scientific studies have tested Ecklonia cava's health effects, the safety of long-term or regular use of this remedy is currently unknown. However, there's some concern that Ecklonia cava may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.

If you experience symptoms such as itching or a rash after consuming Ecklonia cava, discontinue use of this product immediately.

It's crucial for anyone with a thyroid condition to consult a physician prior to consuming Ecklonia cava, since it's known to contain a high amount of iodine.

The safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. 

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as heavy metals. 

Where to Find It

Dietary supplements containing Ecklonia cava are available for sale online, as well as in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in natural products.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend Ecklonia cava as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your primary care provider first.

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Article Sources

  • Choi JG, Kang OH, Brice OO, Lee YS, Chae HS, Oh YC, Sohn DH, Park H, Choi HG, Kim SG, Shin DW, Kwon DY. "Antibacterial activity of Ecklonia cava against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella spp." Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2010 Apr;7(4):435-41.
  • Kang MC, Wijesinghe WA, Lee SH, Kang SM, Ko SC, Yang X, Kang N, Jeon BT, Kim J, Lee DH, Jeon YJ. "Dieckol isolated from brown seaweed Ecklonia cava attenuates type ІІ diabetes in db/db mouse model." Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Mar;53:294-8.
  • Kim SK, Lee DY, Jung WK, Kim JH, Choi I, Park SG, Seo SK, Lee SW, Lee CM, Yea SS, Choi YH, Choi IW. "Effects of Ecklonia cava ethanolic extracts on airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in a murine asthma model: role of suppressor of cytokine signaling." Biomed Pharmacother. 2008 Jun;62(5):289-96.
  • Lee DH, Park MY, Shim BJ, Youn HJ, Hwang HJ, Shin HC, Jeon HK. "Effects of Ecklonia cava polyphenol in individuals with hypercholesterolemia: a pilot study." J Med Food. 2012 Nov;15(11):1038-44.
  • Lee SH, Park MH, Kang SM, Ko SC, Kang MC, Cho S, Park PJ, Jeon BT, Kim SK, Han JS, Jeon YJ. "Dieckol isolated from Ecklonia cava protects against high-glucose induced damage to rat insulinoma cells by reducing oxidative stress and apoptosis." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2012;76(8):1445-51.
  • Oh JK, Shin YO, Yoon JH, Kim SH, Shin HC, Hwang HJ. "Effect of supplementation with Ecklonia cava polyphenol on endurance performance of college students." Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Feb;20(1):72-9.
  • Shin HC, Hwang HJ, Kang KJ, Lee BH. "An antioxidative and antiinflammatory agent for potential treatment of osteoarthritis from Ecklonia cava." Arch Pharm Res. 2006 Feb;29(2):165-71.
  • Shin HC, Kim SH, Park Y, Lee BH, Hwang HJ. "Effects of 12-week oral supplementation of Ecklonia cava polyphenols on anthropometric and blood lipid parameters in overweight Korean individuals: a double-blind randomized clinical trial." Phytother Res. 2012 Mar;26(3):363-8.