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Natural Cures from the Sea

Scientists and marine nutritionists have been researching the world's oceans and waterways for the next generation of drugs, biologics, and even medical devices. Dozens of promising products, including cancer therapies made from algae and a painkiller taken from snails that early trials have shown relieves some of the worst kinds of chronic pain, are in development at research laboratories right now.

Natural miracles from the sea have been used in many medical applications: the rigid exoskeletons of marine coral can fill voids caused by fractures or trauma in the upper, flared-out portions of long bones. This type of coral has also been approved as implants for bone loss around the root of a tooth and other areas of the skull.

Scientists are examining the metabolites of single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates, which National Cancer Institute tests have shown to have cancer-fighting potential.

Recently, scientists have shown that seaweed is up to 60 times more potent than its land-based counterparts. Asian cultures that traditionally have eaten seaweed-based diets have historically shown fewer instances of obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative diseases. Also, studies of large groups of people who eat seafood and algae regularly tend to show that they have less instances of breast cancer than those who eat more meats.

Other benefits of seaweed:

• Phytochemicals (linked to a reduced risk for cancer), and more iodine (which helps maintain proper thyroid production).

• More nutritive value and more antioxidants (which reduce cell damage responsible for aging and disease).

While most people associate the sea with a place to go for fun and relaxation, it's also a wonderful asset to those looking for younger skin, a stronger immune system, better digestion, more energy, a sharper mind, reduced risk of heart disease, increased metabolism and even prevention against certain cancers.

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