Algae have been used since ancient times as food, fodder, fertilizer and as source of medicine. Nowadays seaweeds represent an unlimited source of the raw materials used in pharmaceutical, food industries, medicine and cosmetics. They are nutritionally valuable as fresh or dried vegetables, or as ingredients in a wide variety of prepared foods. In particular, seaweeds contain significant quantities of protein, lipids, minerals and vitamins. There is limited information about the role of algae and algal metabolites in medicine. Only a few taxa have been studied for their use in medicine. Many traditional cultures report curative powers from selected alga, in particular tropical and subtropical marine forms. This is especially true in the maritime areas of Asia, where the sea plays a significant role in daily activities. Nonetheless, at present, only a few genera and species of algae are involved in aspects of medicine and therapy. Beneficial uses of algae or algal products include those that may mimic specific manifestations of human diseases, production of antibiotic compounds, or improvement of human nutrition in obstetrics, dental research, thallassotherapy, and forensic medicine.
Table of Contents
Biodiversity and description of the main algae with bioactive properties. Nutritional composition of the main edible algae. Therapeutic uses of phycocolloids. The cardio-protective activity of edible seaweeds and their extracts. Antiviral activity of seaweeds and their extracts. Antitumor activity of seaweeds and their extracts. Antifungal activity of seaweeds and their extracts. Antibacterial activity of seaweeds and their extracts. Antiparasitic, insecticidal, and larvicidal activities of seaweeds and their extracts. Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antipyretic, antinociceptive, antithrombotic and anti-coagulant activities of seaweeds and their extracts. Neurological activities of seaweeds and their extracts. Thalassotherapy and marine cosmeceuticals. References. Glossary.
Leonel Pereira received his BsC in Biology, his Master in Phycology, and his Ph.D. in Biology. Dr. Pereira is employed in the Department of Life Sciences, in the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, in the University of Coimbra.