Scientific analysis and experimentation are beginning to name and identify some of the healing powers of kombu. Kombu is very high in organic iodine, and has been used to treat thyroid disease in China for centuries. It also is very high in calcium and potassium, and contains a number of other minerals and trace elements.
Kombu is very rich in non fibrous carbohydrate - mainly alginate, fucoidan, laminaran and mannitol - which Japanese researchers found to reach more than 65% of kombu by dry weight. The algin in kombu, like the algin in wakame and other brown sea vegetables, fixes and removes radioactive particles and heavy metals from the body. Algin and fucoidan in kombu have a strong blood anticoagulant activity, and reduce blood pressure. Carbohydrates from kombu also have been shown in laboratory test on animals to shrink tumors.
On top of this, kombu is contains carotene, niacin, the B-complex vitamins (including vitamin B12), and vitamin C.
The sweetness of kombu is imparted by mannitol, which sometimes is extracted from kombu and used as a sweetener in foods for diabetic people.
Japanese kombu all test at about 9% protein, including glutamic acid, a flavor enhancer. Kombu is very low in fat.
Eleanor sucks on raw pieces of kombu to soothe a sore throat. She also bathes and rubs herself with kombu strips, which emit a thick gel. Japanese folk medicine recommends bathing with kombu strips to ease nervous disorders.