West Coast Kelp

Ecklonia maxima


West Coast Kelp, a type of seaweed called sea bamboo, can grow to 15 metres in length, making it one of the largest forms of kelp in the world. It is most common in warm temperate regions such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa (where it is called West Coast kelp), and the north-western Pacific. Along southern Africa’s west coast, the kelp is fed by the cold Benguela Current, which flows northwards along the continent from the Antarctic. The marine life that grows here is prized for the cleanliness of its environment. Health products derived from kelp and other seaweeds have been popular for centuries in such countries as China and Japan, where they are regarded as useful to get rid of accumulated phlegm, particularly when it forms soft masses such as goitre, oedema and testicular swelling.

Parts used

The entire plant is used.


Kelp contains iodine, polyphenols (anti-oxidants help to fight dangerous free radicals), minerals such as potassium, zinc and magnesium, and vitamins A,B and D.

Medicinal uses

It is vital to regulate iodine levels for the thyroid (a gland in your neck that helps produce and regulate hormones) to work properly. Thyroid malfunctions can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness and high cholesterol, and even serious medical conditions like goitre (a swelling of the thyroid gland), heart palpitations and impaired memory.

West Coast kelp is prescribed to:

  • Improve and regulate thyroid function.
  • Aid digestion, relieve constipation and help treat gastro-intestinal ulcers.
  • Improve metabolism.
  • Provide minerals when mineral deficiencies occur.
  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Soothe the mucous lining of the digestive tract and respiratory system.
  • May promote healthy nails and blood vessels.
  • May help with weight management.


Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Do not take kelp if you are being actively treated for thyroid disease without the approval of your medical practitioner. In addition, kelp should not be used in conjunction with newer classes of anti-arrhythmia heart medications, which contain large amounts of iodine. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use kelp supplements.

Flora Force Products containing West Coast Kelp

West Coast Kelp

Domestic & culinary uses

You’ll find kelp in the most unlikely of places. For example, an extract of kelp called alginate is used as a thickening agent in foods ranging from ice cream and jams to soups. Although it may have other culinary uses, it appears that other forms of seaweed feature most regularly in cuisines worldwide.



Photo credits

  1. By derekkeats (Kelp, Ecklonia maximaUploaded by JoJan) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Hugh Venables [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.