Human trial to study health benefits of seaweed

Human trial to study health benefits of seaweed

Researchers to test effect of extract on gut, skin and metabolic health

Researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) are about to embark on a second human trial to investigate the effect of seaweed fibre on gut, metabolic and skin health.

The research team, which includes Professor Barbara Meyer and PhD candidate Lauren Roach from UOW’s School of Medicine, and Dr Pia Winberg, an Honorary Fellow of the School of Medicine and director of Venus Shell Systems, are interested to see if seaweed extract will have an effect on gut, skin and metabolic health, following the promising results of their pilot trial.

“In the previous study we saw improvements in non-HDL cholesterol, inflammation, and insulin sensitivity in overweight participants. We also saw improvements in the levels of good gut bacteria,” Ms Roach said.

“Also in one case study we saw dramatic improvement in a psoriatic skin condition.”

The trial, Bio-Belly 2, will be conducted using a seaweed extract grown in the Shoalhaven.

Seaweed dietary fibres are known to improve the gut and digestive condition of animals. They have also been shown to reduce metabolic stress such as experienced in pre-diabetic condition.

The researchers believe that the findings could contribute to the development of preventative and complementary health management products for the future.

The trial is being undertaken by UOW in partnership with the Illawarra Medical and Research Institute (IHMRI), Venus Shell Systems, endocrinologist Dr Dan Harmelin (who also lectures at UOW’s Graduate School of Medicine) and dermatologist Dr Alan Cooper.

The researchers are currently recruiting people who are overweight and/or have a psoriasis type skin condition.

A total of 80 participants will be recruited into the study.

Participants will be asked to provide blood and gut flora (faeces swab) and complete questionnaires three times during the study. They will be provided with capsules to be taken daily for two periods of six weeks.

Participants will be consuming both the seaweed fibre and a placebo capsule during the study, but won’t know which capsules are which until the end of the trial.