Sea cucumber is a marine creature that belongs to a group of animals called echinoderms, which also includes starfish and sea urchins. It’s so named because its body shape is similar to a cucumber. Like all echinoderms, sea cucumbers have an endoskeleton just below the skin.
There are more than 1250 species of sea cucumbers that can be found in oceans throughout the world. Sea cucumbers usually live on the sea floor. Only a few species live near the surface of the water.
These sea animals have long been known for its healing properties and are widely used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat a number of health problems, including fatigue, constipation, impotence, frequent urination, etc.
Sea cucumber is rich in chondroitin sulfate and triterpene glycosides, which have anticancer, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It also contains protein, fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamin A, B1, B2, B3 & C. Here are some of the health benefits of sea cucumber.
1. Cancer Prevention
Some of the compounds in sea cucumber have been shown to be effective against cancer in laboratory studies. One of the most studied is a triterpenoid glycoside called Frondoside A, extracted from the species Cucumaria frondosa. This substance was tested to see what effect it had on the progression of various lines of lung cancer cells in lab cultures. It was found to be cytotoxic, strongly inhibiting their survival, migration and invasion capabilities.
In one study, Philinopside A, another compound found in sea cucumbers, was studied to be able to inhibit the proliferation of human microvascular endothelial cells by 98.7% and migration by 94.1% in test tube research. The study concludes that “Philinopside A is a promising anti-cancer agent that possesses dual cytotoxic and anti-angiogenic effects.”
A number of other extracts from different species of sea cucumber have also shown promising anti-cancer effects in breast, colon, prostate, pancreatic, lung and liver cells.
2. Cure Arthritis and Joint Pain
Sea cucumber also contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds. A 2006 study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” found that chondroitin sulfate was effective in reducing arthritis pain in the group of study subjects with moderate to severe arthritis pain. The results of this study directly links the effectiveness of sea cucumber for treatment of arthritis pain due to the high concentration of chondroitin sulfate.
3. Protect Against HIV Infection
The chondroitin sulfate contained in sea cucumber can also ward off Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. This makes sea cucumber an ideal food fare for those who want to mitigate HIV symptoms. If you want to protect yourself from HIV, make sure to include this food into your diet.
4. Support Cardiovascular Health
Sea cucumber is extremely high in protein and low in in fat, which helps support cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture showed that a serving of sea cucumber (about 6 ounces) is enough to meet the recommended daily protein intake.
The Harvard School of Public Health stated that eating a high-protein diet may be beneficial for the heart, as long as the protein comes from a healthy source.
5. Boost Immune System
Sea cucumber is a good source of glycine and arginine, which are beneficial in boosting the immune system. Glycine can stimulate production and release of IL-2 and B cell antibodies. These antibodies perform an important task in getting rid of the foreign bodies.
The arginine in sea cucumber can also enhances the immune activity of lymphocytes, boosting the immune system and promoting longevity.
6. Speed Up Wound Healing
Consuming sea cucumber or its extract may help in speeding up wound healing. Sea cucumber is widely known for its ability to regenerate its own body tissues quickly when it is injured. According to the October 2011 “Marine Drugs” study, this is believed to be facilitated by certain fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid, present in sea cucumber.
7. Improve Gum Health
The sea cucumber extract toothpaste may be beneficial to people who suffer from gum disease. According to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Oral Science in 2003, 28 adults with chronic gingivitis or early stages of periodontitis brushed their teeth with sea cucumber-enriched toothpaste twice daily for three months showed significantly improvements in several markers of gum health such as plaque buildup and bleeding.
8. Treat Kidney Problems
Sea cucumber is considered a fine health tonic for the kidneys and has been used in China to treat kidney disorders, frequent urination, and sexual problems such as impotence.
How to Prepare Sea Cucumber
- Soak the sea cucumbers in water for about 2-3 days until soften (depending on their sizes) and changes the water daily.
- Put the sea cucumber in boiling water and let it boil for about 10 minutes and simmer for about 30-60 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the water to cool down.
- Put the sea cucumber in a container with completely submerged under the water and refrigerated.
- In the next day, remove the sea cucumbers from the water and use knife to scrap the inside part of sea cucumber.
- Rinse and boil them again for about 10 minutes, then simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Repeat this process several days later until the sea cucumber becomes soft.
- If you not use the sea cucumber directly, rehydrated and put it in the freezer.