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Sea Medicine: Nature-Nurtured Therapeutics

by Rajgopal Nidamboor(more info)

listed in environmental, originally published in issue 289 - September 2023

Originally published in:

Water is the elixir of life - a great source of nutritional and medicinal substances, too. It was but natural that our ancients knew about seawater's natural therapeutic properties. Seawater is a natural antibiotic. It has been used in the treatment of burns, injuries, wounds and sores for thousands of years.


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Water covers approximately 70 per cent of the earth's surface; this facilitates 80 per cent of its biological productivity. More importantly, the sea represents a paradox – we all know that natural toxins in marine life forms have immense potency. Tetrodoxin, a poison, for example, found in pufferfish, seems to have no antidote. However, it is streets ahead of morphine in terms of potency. Dilute Tetrodoxin has been found to ease the real bugbear of terminally-ill cancer patients – excruciating pain. The constituent has also been found to be useful for epilepsy.

Water is nature's most wholesome beverage. Life would have been impossible without the presence of water. Water regulates the biological and functional needs of living organisms.

Water makes it possible for us to grow crops too. In addition, it provides us with a plethora of the most nutritionally-rich, also valuable, foods. As far as the seas are concerned, they present us with a profuse repertoire of products that are nutritionally and medicinally useful. Natural products from the sea contribute to our optimal health, wellness and longevity.

Seawater is a mix of salts of just about constant composition dissolved in changeable amounts of water. There are more than 70 elements dissolved in seawater. However, only six of them make up for more than 99 per cent of all the dissolved salts. Dissolved salts occur as ions – in other words, they are electrically-charged atoms, or groups of atoms.

Marine researchers use salinity, or salt content – the amount in grams of total dissolved salts present in one kg, or litre, of water – as the index to express the salt content of seawater.

Normal seawater has a salinity of 35 gm/kg, or litre, of water. It may be highlighted that seawater from Wormly, in the UK, for example, is used as the international standard for seawater composition. Besides major elements, there are a number of trace elements found in seawater. To name a few – manganese, lead, gold, iron and iodine. Most occur in parts per million (ppm), or parts per billion (ppb), concentrations. They are critical for certain biochemical reactions that take place, including those that occur from their positive and negative toxicity standpoints and/or curative capabilities.

The sea encompasses a huge wealth of life. Seawater contains literally millions of living organisms. The organisms range from microscopic plants to large fish. The best part is – the sea includes a totally balanced environment, and this explains for its abundance of life forms. This equilibrium does not happen on land, though.

Blame it on environmental conditions, such as changeable rainfall and temperature, not to speak of toxins and pollutants that are now increasingly present and escalating.

We have derived wealth and health from the seas for thousands of years. Yet, the fact remains that it is only now that we are embarking upon the idea of unravelling a multitude of the sea's deepest mysteries.

Agreed that a majority of our medicines today come from nature – almost all of them being derived from land forms, although land covers less than half of our planet unlike water. This is why it is heartening to note that science is increasingly and intensely examining life forms from the sea. The results are apparent – it has opened up a whole new world of health and wellness, one that is dedicated to delivering natural and proven health discoveries from the sea and the ocean to benefit as many people as may be possible.

The prospects are exciting, and so are a profusion of major results deduced – this has sent research into a propitious tizzy. It is, therefore, not without reason that scientists reckon that our present century will be the Age of the Sea – a time when pharmacology, nutritional sciences, molecular biology and preventative and clinical medicine will spur marine scientists into energized action, and take them into the deep reserves of the sea.

When travel and adventure first brought researchers to New Zealand, a huge sea wealth resource, it did not take long for them to discover a remarkable natural substance – squalene.

Today, shark liver oil – purified from deep-water sharks that contain squalene, omega-3, and alkylglycerols (AKGs) – is increasingly acknowledged as a 'panacea' for our immune mechanism, our body's natural defence system. The use of squalene as a dietary supplement goes back to ancient civilisations. AKGs have been well-documented, especially for providing natural nutritional support to the body's immune apparatus.

In addition, it has been established today that the depths of the sea contain substances that are capable of treating several health issues – such as migraine, thyroid and joint disorders and cancer, among others – for which there are no failsafe curative medicines.

The human immune system is designed to protect us from the harmful effects of our environment and disease-producing organisms, viz., bacteria, viruses, other ever-present microbes, as also pollutants. The emergence of degenerative, life-threatening diseases, without a well-developed and well-maintained immune system, would only be imminent. More so, because not everything we have in our modern medical armamentarium has the ability to maintain balance in our body. It is here that medicines from the sea have a major role to play. They are natural; they make good, wholesome, nutritious food. They also provide first-rate medicinal substances that are unique and useful to maintaining optimal health and treating a host of diseases – with good effect.

Acknowledgement Citation

Originally published in:

A version of this article appears in the print on February 22, 2023, of The Himalayan Times.


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About Rajgopal Nidamboor

Rajgopal Nidamboor PhD FCCP M-CAM is a Board-Certified wellness physician, Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians (FCCP), Member of the Center of Applied Medicine (M-CAM), writer-editor, commentator, critic, columnist, author, and publisher. His special interests include natural health and wellness, mind-body/integrative medicine, nutritional medicine, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. His focus areas also encompass contemporary research and dissemination of dependable information for people concerned about their health. He feels that it is increasingly gratifying to see most individuals, including physicians, thinking outside the box – especially in areas such as natural health, where the body knows best to heal itself from the inside out. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, Web articles, four books on natural health, two coffee-table books, a handful of E-books, a primer on therapeutics, and, most recently, Cricket Odyssey. He’s Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360, a mobile health application/platform, connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic, Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.  Rajgopal Nidamboor lives in Navi Mumbai, India. He may be contacted via 

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