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Sea Moss as a Lupus Prebiotic

Patients ask about Sea Moss as a Lupus Prebiotic:

Sea moss was never on my radar until the past couple of years (2022-2023). I (Donald Thomas, MD) have had several patients now ask me about sea moss as a lupus prebiotic. They asked me if it truly helps and if it is safe. This short blog post answers those questions using the best medical evidence.

Donald Thomas, MD author of The Lupus Encyclopedia for Gastrointestinal symptoms in lupus blog post

This blog on “Sea Moss as a Lupus Prebiotic” was edited and contributed to by Donald Thomas, MD; author of “The Lupus Encyclopedia.” Parts of this blog post come from “The Lupus Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide for Patients and Health Care Providers, edition 2

Exploring the Potential Benefits of Sea Moss as a Lupus Prebiotic

Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, affects millions of people worldwide. Individuals living with lupus often seek natural remedies and supplements to complement their treatment plan and manage their symptoms effectively. One such natural option that has gained attention is sea moss, a type of algae known for its potential prebiotic properties. In this article, we will delve into the topic of sea moss as a lupus prebiotic, exploring its potential benefits and considerations for individuals with lupus.

Understanding Lupus and Probiotics and Prebiotics

Lupus is a complex condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs in the body. This immune system dysregulation can lead to inflammation and various symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, and skin rashes.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that may be beneficial for gut health. They are marketed as “supporting” the immune system, improving digestion, and promoting overall well-being. The gut is the largest immune system organ of the body, and the organisms in our gut (the gut microbiome) interact with the immune system. Studies show that an abnormal gut microbiome is associated with worse lupus disease activity and flares.

We do not recommend that lupus patients take over-the-counter probiotic supplement capsules, tablets, or liquids containing gut bacteria. While many probiotic bacteria in these supplements contain beneficial bacteria, some contain strains that are associated with worse lupus disease activity. Much more research is needed. In the meantime, stick to healthy foods rich in probiotic microbes.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are ingestible substances that feed beneficial bacteria, as are found in probiotic foods. Do not forget to include prebiotic food (like resistant starches) in a probiotic-rich diet. Sea moss has been promoted as a prebiotic. Read about prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods in our anti-inflammatory diet post.

a bowl containing Irish sea moss as a lupus prebiotic

The Potential of Sea Moss as a Lupus Prebiotic

Scientifically known as Chondrus crispus, sea moss represents a type of red algae that grows along the Atlantic coastlines. The above image is an example of Irish sea moss. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries and is revered for its potential health benefits. While there is no research on sea moss and lupus (as of 2023), its prebiotic nature and nutrient-rich profile make it an intriguing option for individuals who are interested in increasing prebiotics and probiotics in their diet. Possible sea moss benefits include:

  1. Rich in Essential Nutrients: Sea moss contains a wealth of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These include vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iodine, and folate. All of these can contribute to overall health.
  2. Potential Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of lupus. Some studies suggest that certain compounds found in sea moss, such as fucoidan, may help increase bacteria in the gut shown to possibly benefit lupus patients.
  3. Gut Health and Immune System Support: The gut plays a crucial role in immune function. Sea moss, as a potential prebiotic, can possibly help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, supporting the immune system’s proper functioning. A 2015 study showed that sea moss benefitted the gut microbiome and immune system in a research animal model. A healthy gut environment may contribute to reduced autoimmune activity in lupus.

Considerations for Individuals with Lupus

While sea moss shows promise as a lupus prebiotic, it’s essential to approach its usage with caution and consider the following factors:

  1. Individual Variations: Lupus affects each person differently, and what works for one individual may not work for another. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who specializes in autoimmune conditions to determine if sea moss is suitable for your specific situation.
  2. Quality and Sourcing: Ensure you obtain sea moss from reputable sources to ensure purity and quality. Organic and sustainably sourced sea moss is generally preferred to minimize potential contaminants.
  3. Interaction with Medications: Sea moss may interact with certain medications, including anticoagulants (blood thinners). It is crucial to discuss the use of sea moss with your healthcare provider to ensure there are no contraindications or adverse effects.
  4. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to sea moss or develop allergic reactions. If you have a history of allergies, discuss with your health care provider if it is safe for you to ingest sea moss.

Incorporating Sea Moss Safely

If you decide to try sea moss as a lupus prebiotic, it is essential to do so safely. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start Slowly: Introduce sea moss gradually to assess your body’s response and tolerance. Begin with small amounts and monitor any potential reactions or side effects.
  2. Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian experienced in autoimmune conditions before incorporating sea moss into your regimen. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific health needs and medication interactions.
  3. Monitor Your Symptoms: Pay attention to any changes in your lupus symptoms when using sea moss. Keep a symptom journal to track your progress and discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.
  4. Diversify Your Approach: Sea moss should not replace other lupus treatments or medications prescribed by your healthcare provider. It can be incorporated as a complementary approach to support overall health and well-being.
  5. Embrace a Balanced Diet: While sea moss may offer potential benefits, it is crucial to maintain a well-rounded diet. You should be incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet. A balanced diet supports overall health and provides essential nutrients for individuals with lupus. Consider eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

Could Sea Moss Help?

Sea moss, with its potential prebiotic properties, has garnered attention as a natural supplement for individuals with lupus. While no research specifically explores sea moss (Chondrus crispus) and lupus, its nutrient-rich composition and potential anti-inflammatory properties make it an intriguing option. However, it is essential to approach sea moss usage with caution, seeking professional guidance and monitoring your individual response. Incorporating sea moss safely, alongside a balanced diet and comprehensive lupus treatment plan, may offer potential benefits for managing symptoms and supporting overall health.

Remember, every individual’s experience with lupus is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Consult with healthcare professionals and listen to your body’s feedback when incorporating sea moss or any other natural remedies into your lupus management strategy. By taking a holistic approach and making informed choices, you can strive towards improved well-being and a better quality of life with lupus.

For more in-depth information on other complementary therapies for lupus in greater detail:

Read chapters 38 and 39 of The Lupus Encyclopedia, edition 2

It includes information on the anti-inflammatory diet, mindfulness, how to deal with insomnia and stress, turmeric, ginger, and many others by complementary (integrative) medicine experts specializing in lupus.  

Look up your symptoms, conditions, and medications in the Index of The Lupus Encyclopedia.

If you enjoy the information from The Lupus Encyclopedia, please click the “SUPPORT” button at the top of the page to learn how you can help. 


What are your comments and opinions?

If you take sea moss or use other complementary therapies for lupus, what has your experience been? What do you recommend for other patients?

Do you have any questions to ask Dr. Thomas?

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Edited and added to by Donald Thomas, MD

2 Comments

  1. Thank you Dr. Thomas! I look forward to your articles.
    Wondering if you will write one about Car-T therapy. It seems pretty exciting.
    Thanks

  2. How do I find a dietician who knows anything about sea moss? This is fascinating to me, because I continually suffer from gut problems. I eat a bland mediterranean-type diet. What I’ve learned is that registered dietitians in my city (which is in the top 10 in the U.S). limit their clients to those with diabetes, heart problems, or cancer. Do you have a suggestion for “seeking professional guidance and monitoring your individual response.” As with everything in the medical world these days, there are too many sick people and not enough trained clinicians. My current specialists say it’s best to avoid prebiotics an probiotics–just eat the right food (which obviously hasn’t solved my intestinal problems). I’ve reviewed websites for dietitians and haven’t found anyone (a few say they have specialties for Chron’s or IBS, neither of which I have been diagnosed with).


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