What is Fucoidan?

About 4 percent of the total dry weight of many types of brown seaweed consists of a polysaccharide known as Fucoidan. Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide that possesses a complex structure. Its chief components include a sulfuric esterified L-fucose, and the trace elements of galactose, xylose, and glucuronic acid.Working cooperatively, Takara Shuzo’s Biomedical Research Laboratories and the Research Institute for Glycotechnology Advancement were able to confirm the presence of two different types of Fucoidan molecules in brown seaweed.

The first type, bearing the name F-Fucoidan, consists mainly of sulfated fucose. The second type bears the name U-Fucoidan, and approximately 20 percent of it consists of glucuronic acid. Researchers were able to use a technique known as pyridlamination to shed light on the chemical structure of U-Fucoidan.

The biological activity of Fucoidan Numerous accounts have ascribed to Fucoidan properties such as the ability to act as an anti-contraceptive, to reduce cholesterol levels, and to act as an anti-tumor agent. However, a definitive consensus concerning the precise nature of Fucoidan has still not been reached.

The Biomedical Research Laboratories of Takara Shuzo and the Research Institute for Glycotechnology Advancement have focused their attention on the anti-tumor properties of Fucoidan, and have managed to confirm that this substance causes certain types of rapidly growing cancer cells to self-destruct.

Examples of cancer cell strains where this self-destruct phenomenon was observed include human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60 cell line), human stomach cancer cells (AGS cell line), human colon cancer cells (HCT-116 cell line), and cancer cells of the descending colon (SW-480 cell line/WiDr cell line). Moreover, this self-destruction was observed to take place without affecting normal cells. Currently, efforts are underway to clarify the precise mechanism by which this phenomenon occurs.

Some of the reasons which have until recently prevented the formation of a definitive scientific consensus concerning the precise nature of Fucoidan include the fact that it possesses an extremely complex structure, as well as the difficulty of obtaining pure samples of Fucoidan.

The mechanism through which cancer cells self-destruct In the presence of certain substances, as well as under other unusual environmental conditions, cells may self-destruct and disappear altogether. This self-destruct phenomenon is known as apoptosis. It should be distinguished from necrosis, which is the death of cells directly brought about by external stimuli such as poisonous substances or physical damage to the cell.

Properly speaking, apoptosis is brought about by a mechanism that is programmed into the natural makeup of cells. Organisms activate this mechanism when necessary. Once the apoptosis mechanism has been triggered, the genetic blueprint of the cell (DNA) is rendered useless, through activation of the deoxyribonuclease found within the cell itself. Apoptosis thus can be described as a natural means through which living organisms manage to eliminate harmful cells from their systems.

The significance of this discovery and future prospects

From ancient times (dating from the Jomon era, approximately before the 2nd Century BC onwards), brown seaweed has been a mainstay of the traditional Japanese diet. It is precisely these seaweeds that contain the U-Fucoidan that trigger the apoptosis mechanism described above.

The inhabitants of Okinawa, Japan enjoy some of the highest life expectancies in Japan. Okinawans happen to have one of the highest per capita consumption rates of kombu — 1 gram per person per day. It is noteworthy that the cancer death rate in Okinawa is the lowest of all the prefectures in Japan.

The average per capita consumption rate of kombu in Japan is approximately 0.5 grams per day. Such a serving of kombu would include roughly 5 mg of U-Fucoidan. In vivo experiments are currently underway to determine the effects of U-Fucoidan within living organisms. If it is confirmed that U-Fucoidan can help bring about apoptosis solely in cancer cells that are multiplying at uncontrolled rates, we would then have within our reach the long-dreamed-of cancer drug — one that does its job without causing adverse side effects.


Food supplement UF-n is not just another dried, ground seaweed formulation. It is a completely natural, unblended food product extracted from the dried, highly concentrated juice of brown seaweed (Laminaria japonica, or kombu). This seaweed is harvested from one of the clearest ocean beds in the world off the eastern coast of Russia, north of Japan.

The soft inner part of the brown seaweed is squeezed out of the leaves and made into dry powder using a simple cold-temperature extraction process that retains the important organic elements. When taken with plenty of water, UF-n delivers all of the naturally occurring minerals and vitamins of Laminaria in a soluble, bioavailable form that is easily digestible.

This seaweed is harvested from the Kuril Islands, where it grows the largest. Here the cold water flowing down from the Arctic meets the warm water from the south in a great swirl that forms the best habitat for all types of seafood, from the smallest shrimp to the largest whales.

Divers bring the seaweed to shore, where the huge Laminaria leaves are hung across wooden fences to quickly dry in the sun in the traditional Japanese way. The seaweed is then transported to a plant where it is soaked in fresh water, which is retained so as not to lose the water-soluble polysaccharides.

Within about eight hours the leaves return to their original size and the outer skin can be removed. All the heavy fibers are disposed of, and the remaining inner part is ground up. The resulting thick, rubbery substance is dried in a vacuum chamber without using heat so as not to lose any of the original nutrients.

The active ingredient in Laminara, U-Fucoidan, is the basis of our product known as UF-n. This nutrient fights cancer without killing off the healthy cells –- the all-too-frequent and dangerous result of standard chemotherapy and radiation.

UF-n is a high-potency herbal extract (not a formulation). It was developed to maximize the essential polysaccharides found in Laminaria japonica (kombu) and at the same time to leave a natural balance of vitamins and minerals.

Two different types of fucoidan molecules are found in brown seaweed. The first type, bearing the name U-Fucoidan, consists of approximately 20 percent glucuronic acid. The second type bears the name F-Fucoidan and consists mainly of sulfated fucose.

UF-n contains 35 percent U-Fucoidan and 11 percent F-Fucoidan, by volume.


Details of the above discovery were disclosed at the 18th Annual Conference of the Carbohydrate Symposium (August 19-21, 2000), the 69th Annual Proceedings of the Japanese Biochemical Society (August 26-30, 2000), and the 55th Annual Proceedings of the Japanese Cancer Society (October 10-12, 2000).

Details concerning the Research Institute for Glycotechnology Advancement: With funding from the Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institute (a special legal person under the joint jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Ministry of Finance), Aomori prefecture, Hirosaki city, as well as eleven private sector companies, the Research Institute for Glycotechnology Advancement was founded in February 1991. The Institute ranks as a research organization operating under the auspices of the Intelligent Research Institute, a body that was formed as part of the overall efforts to promote the development of the Tohoku (northeast) area.

The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease