Before you run off to your friendly cannabis-card-prescribing doctor complaining of dubious aches and pains in hopes of scoring some high-grade medical marijuana, consider taking another form of weed.


The weed I’m talking about is one you can’t smoke, although it is available in edible form. No, the weed I suggest trying isn’t only legal in Washington state and Colorado; this weed is legal in all 50 states. It might not get you high like THC but it contains documented scientific medicinal benefits.


And though the finished product is also green in color, this weed, before it’s cultivated, appears brown in color. I’m talking about seaweed, and for centuries, seaweed has been a staple of Japanese diets.


Researchers studying centenarians (people living into their 100s), specifically on the Japanese island of Okinawa, discovered that its inhabitants thrived on a low-calorie diet, mostly consisting of vegetables, fruits  and fish.


Okinawans, the researchers discovered, also consumed a hefty amount of sea vegetables, including seaweed, eating on average, 4-6 grams per day of it.


Other populations that consume seaweed and are free of chronic diseases that plague modern industrialized societies such as the U.S. also include the Chinese and Koreans (though many countries in Southeast Asia are experiencing increasing rates of obesity as Western diets are adopted).


What is it about seaweed that is so healthy?


Seaweed, which is actually algae, not a plant, contains compounds called “fucoidans,” which among other functions stimulate cell-to-cell communication, tissue regeneration and immune function. Considered a marine superfood, the American diet is all but void in consumption of fucoidans.


Fucoidans may help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, neurological diseases and viral infections, and possibly arthritis.


Most supermarkets contain an Asian food section. Look for ‘wakame’, which is a type of wild seaweed. Not all seaweed is created equal, however. Some seaweeds are harvested from polluted bodies of water. But chances are, with a little research, you can find out if a particular company uses wild seaweed from clean sources. Or, next time you go out for sushi, order the seaweed salad as an appetizer. Ask if it’s wakame/wild seaweed.


You won't need a prescription for it.


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