I started eating an organic, macrobiotic diet when I was a sophomore in college. Sea vegetables are an important part of the macrobiotic diet, so it was around that time I started regularly consuming arame, hijki and nori. Also around that time, I heard that if you eat sea vegetables, your hair would never turn gray because of their high mineral content. Although this sounds far-fetched, it’s true that whether your hair turns gray isn’t just about genetics. Such phenomena as chemotherapy and high stress levels obviously hasten graying.
In any case, although I no longer follow the macrobiotic approach, I have eaten sea vegetables fairly regularly for about 40 years, and for whatever reason, I still have very little gray hair (of what little hair is left; apparently, they don’t prevent men from losing at least some of their hair).
However, as with beets, the main stumbling block to my eating as many mineral-rich sea vegetables as I would like has been convenience. Most unprocessed sea vegetables come in sheets that need 12 to 24 hours of soaking before they can be used in stir-fries, soups or other savory dishes. Often, I just didn’t
bother. Happily, now I’m eating nori daily again, thanks to our Nori Powder.
Nori is one of the most nutritious of all the sea vegetables. It is among the highest in iodine, which is in a form more easily assimilated than the non-organic forms found in most pills and drops. Nori is also high in protein for a vegetable, and like most sea vegetables, has been shown to stimulate detoxification pathways. In particular, people exposed to radiation tend to do much better when sea vegetables, such as nori, are a part of their daily diet.
In addition to supporting thyroid function, iodine is needed by all the glands for optimal function. It turns out the thyroid “gets” the available iodine first, then the rest, if any, is parceled out to the immune system and other glands, such as the breasts and prostate. Women with breast issues -- from fibrocystic breasts to cancer -- and men with prostate enlargement (BPH) or prostate cancer would most likely benefit from the inclusion of iodine-rich sea vegetables in their daily diets.
One of the missions of Dr. Cowan’s Garden is to partner with small growers and foragers. Strong Arm Farm in Healdsburg is a prime example of this relationship. Heidi Herrmann (that’s her in the photo above) is the owner of Strong Arm Farm, and she collects nori from isolated parts of the northern California Coast, areas deemed to be in the top 5 percent of the most pristine coastlines in the world. She harvests the nori only in early summer at low tide when the mineral and protein content is highest, then triple washes it before air drying it.
I use our Nori Powder (it’s actually fine flakes) every day, added to soups, salad dressings, chicken stir-fry and even my homemade ketchup (see more ideas below). It is not only delicious but also a big help to my slowly disappearing but not-yet-graying hair.
Tom Cowan, M.D.