Could seaweed help combat Covid-19?

Seaweed is well known for its countless beneficial properties including antioxidants, essential amino acids and bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, as well as being a great source of energy, food, clothing, animal feed, cosmetics, bioplastics, fertiliser, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, to name a few! Seaweed is already known to have many medicinal properties so it should be no surprise that it has been recognised as potentially being an effective therapeutic agent against the Covid-19 virus!

According to researchers from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research – Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (ICAR-CIFT) in Kerala, India, sulphated polysaccharides extracted from seaweeds, have many pharmacological applications. Sulphated polysaccharides are negatively charged polysaccharides present in the cell wall of marine seaweeds, they are mainly comprised of cellulose and hemicellulose with a high carbohydrate complex. These polysaccharides have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and immunological properties and could be utilised to fight the Covid-19 virus.

According to the CIFT researchers, Ashish Jha, Suseela Mathew and CN Ravishankar, “Several polysaccharides isolated from red and green seaweeds have been evaluated for their antiviral characteristics and found to have the ability to inhibit the initial attachment of virus to the host cells which in turn effectively block the viral entry to the human body”. This huge potential to fight Covid-19 has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), who have placed this research on their website, under the section ‘COVID-19 Global Literature on Coronavirus Disease’.

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For more information on seaweeds anti-viral properties, here’s another interesting article: ‘Can Irish Seaweed help in the fight against viruses?’: