The 27+ Benefits Of Ecklonia Cava and Phlorotannins

Ecklonia Cava: A Powerful Marine Brown Algae 


Ecklonia cava is a powerful brown algae that shows promising potential in many metabolic diseases.

In this post, we will discuss the benefits of Ecklonia cava, where to buy it, and its mechanism of action.


  1. Basics Of Ecklonia Cava
  2. Benefits Of Ecklonia Cava
  3. My Experience With Ecklonia Cava
  4. Where To Get Ecklonia Cava
  5. Caveats
  6. Mechanism Of Action
  7. More Research

Basics Of Ecklonia Cava

Ecklonia cava, an edible marine brown algae popular and abundant in Korea and Japan, contains various bioactive compounds and derivatives including phlorotannins, peptides, carotenoids, and fucoidans. R


Benefits Of Ecklonia Cava

1. Combats Diabetes

Ecklonia's polyphenols are very effective at combating multiple pathologies of Diabetes. R R

For example, ecklonia has shown in double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials (over 12 weeks) to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. R

Ecklonia can improve Type 1 Diabetes symptoms (such as polyphagia and polydipsia) by activation of AMPK/ACC and PI3K/AKT. R 

Ecklonia can also reduce high blood glucose levels (via α-glucosidase and α-amylase inhibition) and oxidative stress from hyperglycemia associated with diabetes. R R R R R

For example, in models of Type 2 Diabetes, ecklonia can normalize blood glucose, insulin and body weight. R

Ecklonia has also shown to protect pancreatic beta cells, improve their insulin secretion, and reduce extra glucose-induced insulin secretion (via Na+-dependent glucose transporter 1 (SGLT1) inhibition), thus helping contribute to proper blood glucose/insulin homeostasis. R R R R

2. Promotes Hair Growth

ecklonia hair growth.jpg

Ecklonia can promote hair growth significantly (up to 30.8% in 9 days) and may combat hair loss. R

For example, Dioxinodehydroeckoldieckol, and phlorofurofucoeckol A (3 polyphenols found in E cava) can improve the expression of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in human dermal papilla cells (DPCs) and outer root sheath (ORS) cells. R

Ecklonia can also stimulate hair growth via inhibition of 5α-reductase (5AR) activity, which may be useful for combating Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). R

3. Reduces Weight Gain

Ecklonia's polyphenols are potent at reducing fat accumulation and may be useful for fighting obesity. R R

For example, ecklonia can decrease the expression of adipogenisis (expansion of fat cells)-related genes (such as CCAAT/Enhancer‑Binding Protein (C/EBP)α, Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Protein‑1c (SREBP‑1c), Adipocyte Fatty Acid Binding Protein (A‑FABP), Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS) and adiponectin). R

Ecklonia can reduce weight gain (via ↑ AMPK/SIRT1 and ↑PPAR-α/CPT-1 and ↓SREBP 1). R R R R R R R

For example in animals eating high fat diets, ecklonia can reduce weight gain (via PPARg reduction) and in humans can improve lipid biomarkers (increasing the levels of high‑density lipoprotein cholesterol/total cholesterol ratio). R R R

Ecklonia can also reduce leptin levels which may be helpful for combating leptin resistance. R

4. Protects The Lungs

Polyphenols from Ecklonia (such as Eckol and Triphlorethol-A) can reduce oxidative stress in the lungs. R R

5. Combats Liver Disease

Polyphenols from ecklonia have been shown to have a protective effect against cellular toxicity in the liver. R

For example, dieckol can protect against hepatic damage by increasing the levels of antioxidant enzymes (ie CAT and GSH-px) and regulating cell death proteins (i.e. Bax and Bcl-xl). R

Ecklonia may be useful for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), as in animal models ecklonia can increase the expression of Cholesterol 7 Alpha-Hydroxylase 1 (CYP7A1, by reducing FXR activation), a key regulator of cholesterol metabolism, is considered to be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of NAFLD. R

Ecklonia inhibits scarring of the liver by reducing ROS. R

Ecklonia may also be able to combat Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) by protecting against glucose-induced scarring in liver and downregulating Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β). R

6. Enhances Skin

Phlorotannins from ecklonia can improve the survival of skin cells and may be useful for Atopic Dermatitis (eczema), skin wrinkling, and other skin diseases (via supprepssion of Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMP)). R R R

For example, in skin ecklonia can reduce inflammation (via Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription 1 (STAT1)/Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) inhibition) and also prevent irritation to skin from small particular matter (<PM10), which may be useful against haptens. R R

Ecklonia may act as a sunscreen alternative as it can inhibit damage from UV-B radiation. R R R R

In cosmetics, ecklonia may be useful as a skin whitening agent (as it can inhibit tyrosinase activity). R R

Ecklonia may be useful for preventing and fighting acne as it has antimicrobial activity against  Propionibacteriucm acnes. R

7. Enhances Exercise Endurance 


Ecklonia cava can enhance exercise endurance. R

For example, college students that were given Ecklonia cava polyphenols had an increased time to exhaustion, a higher VO2 max, higher blood glucose levels and lower post-exercise blood lactate levels. R

8. Has Antimicrobial Effects

Ecklonia has antibacterial effects against:

  • Edwardsiella tarda R
  • Escherichia coli R
  • Propionibacteriucm acnes R
  • MRSA R R
  • Salmonella R
  • Staphylococcus aureus R
  • Streptococcus iniae R
  • Vibrio harveyi R

Ecklonia has antiviral effects against:

  • HIV (strong) R R R
  • PEDV R
  • VHSV R

9. Quenches Inflammation And Endotoxemia

Eclonia has potent anti-inflammatory effects and may be a useful therapeutic agent for inflammatory diseases. R R

For example, ecklonia can enhance the proliferation and differentiation of mature CD3+ T cells as well as Interleukin 2 (IL-2) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels (via JNK/NF-kb). R

Ecklonia can also improve neuroinflammation by its ability to inhibit Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation (for example via reductions in iNOS and COX-2 in microglia and Toll-Like Receptor 4 (TLR4) inhibition). R R R R R R

More specifically in microglia, ecklonia is able to reduce neurotoxicity (from LPS) via Akt/ERK/NADPH downregulation. R

Eclonia may also prevent inflammation from sepsis and protect from septic shock-induced damage and death (via NIK/TAK1/IKK/IκB/NFκB and Nrf2/HO-1 pathways). R R R

10. Has Antioxidant Properties

The polyphenols in ecklonia are powerful at combating oxidative stress and protect against cellular damage. R R

For example, ecklonia can combat oxidative stress by upregulating antioxidative NRF2 downstream transcription factors (i.e. HO-1, NQO-1) via MAPK and ERK. R R

Ecklonia can also upregulate 8-Oxoguanine DNA glycosylase-1 (OGG1) which helps remove 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) during the cellular response to DNA base damage. R 

11. Reduces Allergies And Histamine Responses

Ecklonia has powerful anti-allergic properties. R R R

It can reduce IgE responses from basophils and mast cells (via FCER1) and decrease histamine release. R

It may inhibit anaphylactic reactions (via mast cell activation). R

It can stop UV-B induced allergic reactions (via mast cell degranulation from decreasing ROS). R

12. May Protect Memory And Help Treat Alzheimer's Disease

ecklonia alzheimer's.jpg

Ecklonia may be able to combat neurodegeneration by reducing amyloid beta (AB) production (via gamma/alpha-secretase and BACE). R R

By reducing AB plaque, hyperphosphorlated tau and Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) expression, ecklonia may be useful for treatment of Alzheimer Disease (AD). R

Ecklonia is also able to increase acetylcholine (ACh) levels in the brain via butyrylcholinsterase (BHCE) inhibition (100-fold greater than acetylcholinesterase (ACHE)). R

Ecklonia can also protect the hippocampus against oxidative stress by stabilizing intracellular calcium levels. R

In the rest of the brain, ecklonia can protect neurons from oxidative stress (via mitochondrial protection and AChE inhibition). R

Ecklonia's polyphenols can modulate neurotransmitters to enhance cognition: R

  • +ACh (hippo/striatum/cortex)
  • -GABA (hippo)
  • +Glutamate (striatum/hippo)
  • -NE (striatum)
  • +5HT (hippo)

13. Combats Cancer

Ecklonia's polyphenols have cancer suppressing effects against:

  • Breast R R
  • Colon Cancer R R
  • Fibrosarcoma R
  • Liver Cancer R
  • Melanoma R R
  • Ovarian R R
  • Skin Cancer R

14. Reduces Kidney Damage

Phototannins from Ecklonia have shown to protect the kidneys from cisplatin-induced kidney damage. R

Ecklonia can also protect the kidneys from inflammation induced from a high fat diet. R

For example in obese animal models, ecklonia treatment (100 or 500mg/kg/day) lowered the protein levels related to lipid accumulation (SREBP1c, ACC & FAS), inflammation (NLRP3 inflammasome, NFκB, MCP-1, TNF-α & CRP), and oxidative stress (Nrf2, HO-1, MnSOD, NQO1, GPx, 4-HNE and protein carbonyls), while significantly up-regulating renal SIRT1, PGC-1α, and AMPK. R

15. Improves Vascular Function

Ecklonia cava polyphenols have shown to reduce hyperlidiemia in humans and animal models. R

Seapolynol was able to significantly reduce the level of total cholesterol (TCHO), triglyceride (TG), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. R

It can also inhibit factors that contribute to heart disease such as cholesterol synthesis, weight gain, and fat accumulation (via 3-hydroxyl-methyl glutaryl coenzyme A (HMGCoA) reductase inhibition). R

The results of this study showed decreased hip circumference, TCHO, LDL-C, and C-reactive Protein (CRP). R

In diabetic mice, help normalize LDL and HDL levels. R

In humans, ecklonia can reduce high blood pressure. R R

16. Combats Alcohol Toxicity

Ecklonia can protect the liver from alcohol-induced injury (via ↑ cyclic-AMP and ↓ CYP2E1) and can increase enzymes to help break down alcohol such as Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH). R 

Ecklonia can also prevent major changes to serum Aspartate Transaminase (AST) and Alanine Transaminase (ALT) activity after alcohol ingestion. R R

17. Has Radioprotection Properties

Ecklonia can protect against some Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) by suppressing cell death from radiation damage and by improving antioxidant levels in cells, thus protecting the cells and DNA from damage. R R R

Ecklonia can also stop radiation-induced death in some animal models by reducing immunosuppression. R

For example, in blood lymphocytes and splenocytes ecklonia stops DNA damage from radiation. R

18. May Minimalize Stroke Damage

Ecklonia may also help diminish the size and toxicity of a strokeR

For example in animal models with stroke, ecklonia decreased infarct size and the extent of brain edema post strokeR

It was also able to reduce neurotoxicity by controlling calcium levels in the brain. R

19. Improves Anxiety and Mood

ecklonia gaba mood anxiety.jpg

Ecklonia works on the same GABA-A receptors that benzodiazepenes do, thus having anti-anxiety properties. R  R

Eckol and dieckol (from ecklonia) have shown to be potent inhibitors against the activity of MAO-A and MAO-B, which may be helpful for improving mood and combating neurological diseases such as Parkinson's Disease (PD). R

20. Combats Pain

Ecklonia may have pain reducing effects and may act similarly gabapentin. R

For example in animal models post-surgery, 300mg/kg of ecklonia significantly reduced postoperative and neuropathic pain compared to controls (via GABA receptors). R

21. Reduces Ear Damage

Ecklonia can protect against drug-induced hearing loss.  R R

For example, ecklonia cava can protect against cisplatin (cancer drug)-induced oxidative stress in the ear for up to 24 hours after administration (diminishes past 72 hrs), while enhancing it's tumor inhibitory effect. R R

Repeated doses are needed to keep protection. R

Ecklonia can also protect against gentamicin-induced cell damage in the cochlea without diminishing it's antimicrobial action. R

Ecklonia can also protect against damage from loud noisesR

For example, ecklonia also has the ability to protect against acoustic-induced neuronal hearing loss. R

22. Has Anti-Aging Properties

When combined with human placental hydrolysate (HPE), dieckol (DE) from Ecklonia cava may combat biomarkers of agingR

This combination can prevent muscle wasting (sarcopenia) and reactive oxidative stress (ROS) accumulation, while increasing collagen synthesis + MMP1/PKCα/elastinase inhibition.  R

This combination is also able to improve neurodegenration by ameliorating cognition-related genes (ChAT and VAChT). R

23. Improves Microbiome And Combats Dysbiosis

ecklonia microbiome.jpg

Ecklonia can act as prebiotic (enhances growth of lactic acid bacteria) and may be useful in combatting pathogenic bacteria. R

For example, Ecklonia may help fight infectious diarrhea. R

Ecklonia may also combat dysbiosis, improve intestinal permeability and enhance nutrient absorption. R

24. Boosts Testosterone and Male Sex Drive

When combined with Chitosan and Tribulus terrestris, Ecklonia can improve libido and erectile function in men with lower levels of Testosterone (T). R

This combination may also help improve low T levels. R

25. Reduces Lead Bioaccumulation

Extracts of alginic acid from Ecklonia can reduce bioaccumulation and enhance chelation of lead. R

26. May Improve Bone Disease

Ecklonia may have therapeutic potential in arthritis by combating inflammation and oxidative stress. R R R

27. Combats Seizures And Improves Sleep

Ecklonia promotes many of its central nervous system effects via GABAA-BZD receptors. R R

By acting on these receptors, ecklonia has also shown to have anticonvulsive properties. R

The polyphenols in ecklonia are strong potentiators of sleep. R R

For example, Triphlorethol A (found in ecklonia) may improve sleep by decreasing sleep latency and increasing non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. R

In animal models, triphlorethol A supplementation (at 50mg/kg) was able to replicate the effects of Zolpidem (ambien 10mg/kg), but unlike ambien, increased the quantity of sleep without reducing sleep quality (triphlorethol A did not effect delta activity). R

My Experience With Ecklonia Cava

I've been taking Ecklonia cava before bed as it seems to have strong GABAergic effects.

I will occasionally take it in the morning for its effects on SIRT1 and PGC1a.

Where To Get Ecklonia Cava



Ecklonia is safe, but it is probably best to refrain from using it if someone is on a benzodiazapenes or other potent GABAergics.

The European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) deems Ecklonia cava phlorotannins (marketed as SeaPolynol™) as safe for the use in food supplements at a maximum daily intake level of 163 mg/day for adolescents from 12 to 14 years of age, 230 mg/day for adolescents above 14 years of age and 263 mg/day for adults. R

Studies to investigate acute toxicity, subchronic toxicity, and genotoxicity of Ecklonia (via guidelines published by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) have shown ecklonia to be safe and a potential therapeutic for human consumption against various diseases. R

Ecklonia is safe to use on skin (as a cosmetic use). R 

Mechanism Of Action


  • Increases ACh R R
  • Increases ADH R
  • Increases ALDH R
  • Increases AMPK R R R
  • Increases α-amylase R
  • Increases α-glucosidase R
  • Increases Bam R
  • Increases Bcl-xl R R
  • Increases BCL2 R R R
  • Increases Bid R
  • Increases CAMP (strong) R
  • Increases Caspase-3 (although reduction for liver/glucose protection) R R R R R
  • Increases Caspase-7 R
  • Increases Caspase-8 R R
  • Increases Caspase-9 R R R R
  • Increases CAT R R R
  • Increases CPT1 R
  • Increases CYP2E1 R
  • Increases GABAA-BZD R R
  • Increases Glutamate R
  • Increases GLUT4 R
  • Increases GPX R R R
  • Increases HO-1 R R
  • Increases IGF-1 R R
  • Increases IgG R
  • Increases IL-2 R
  • Increases KLF2 R
  • Increases MAPK R
  • Increases NQO-1 R R
  • Increases NRF2 R R R R
  • Increases OGG1 R
  • Increases PARP R R R R
  • Increases PGC-1a R
  • Increases PPAR-alpha R
  • Increases SIRT1 R R
  • Increases SOD R R
  • Increases TIMP-1 R
  • Increases TIMP-2 R
  • Increases VEGF (reduces in cancer) R R R
  • Increases VO2 Max R
  • Increases 5-HT R
  • Reduces AB R R
  • Reduces ACHE R R
  • Reduces ACS1 R
  • Reduces Adiponectin (reduces in fat increases in liver) R R
  • Reduces A-FABP R
  • Reduces AKT R R R
  • Reduces ALT R R
  • Reduces Alpha-secretase R
  • Reduces APP R
  • Reduces AST R  R
  • Reduces Bax R R R R R
  • Reduces β-secretase R
  • Reduces BCHE R
  • Reduces C/EBP-alpha R
  • Reduces C/EBP-beta R
  • Reduces C/EBP-gamma R
  • Reduces COX-2 R R R R R
  • Reduces CRP R
  • Reduces DGAT1 R
  • Reduces ERK (increases via AREs) R R R R R
  • Reduces ETS2 R
  • Reduces FABP1 R
  • Reduces FABP4 R R
  • Reduces FAK R
  • Reduces FAS R R R
  • Reduces FCER1 R
  • Reduces FXR R
  • Reduces GABA R
  • Reduces Gamma-secretase R
  • Reduces GOT R
  • Reduces GPAT3 R
  • Reduces GPT R
  • Reduces GSK-3b R
  • Reduces HMGB-1 R
  • Reduces HMGCoA R
  • Reduces Histamine R
  • Reduces HSL R
  • Reduces IFN-gamma R
  • Reduces IKb R
  • Reduces IKK R
  • Reduces IL-1b R R R R
  • Reduces IL-6 R R
  • Reduces IL-8 R
  • Reduces iNOS R R R
  • Reduces Insulin R
  • Reduces JNK R
  • Reduces KLF4 R
  • Reduces KLF5 R
  • Reduces Lactate R
  • Reduces LDL-C R R
  • Reduces Leptin R
  • Reduces LPL R
  • Reduces MAO-A R
  • Reduces MAO-B R
  • Reduces MAPK R R
  • Reduces MCP-1 R R
  • Reduces MDA R
  • Reduces MMP-1 R
  • Reduces MMP-2 R R R R R
  • Reduces MMP-3 R
  • Reduces MMP-9 R R R R R R
  • Reduces MMP-13 R R
  • Reduces NADPH R
  • Reduces NE R
  • Reduces NF-kB R R R R R
  • Reduces NIK R
  • Reduces NO R R R
  • Reduces PGE2 R R R
  • Reduces PPAR-gamma R R R
  • Reduces PSEN1 R
  • Reduces p130Cas R
  • Reduces p38 R R R
  • Reduces p53 R
  • Reduces p65 R
  • Reduces Rac1 R
  • Reduces ROS R R R
  • Reduces SGLT1 R
  • Reduces SGU R
  • Reduces Src R
  • Reduces SREBP1 R R R
  • Reduces STAT R
  • Reduces TAK1 R
  • Reduces TCHO R R
  • Reduces TG R
  • Reduces TGF-B R
  • Reduces TLR4 R
  • Reduces TNF-a R R R R
  • Reduces Tyrosinase R R
  • Reduces 5AR R
  • Reduces 8-oxoG R


  • Various phototannins in e cava are eckol, 8,8′-bieckol, 8,4″-dieckol, phlorofucofuroeckol A, triphlorethol-A, phloroglucinol, dioxinodehydroeckol, fucodiphlorethol G. R
  • Dieckol + phlorofurofucoeckol A can causue a 129.7±10.1% fold-change relative to the negative control in proliferation in hDPCs. R
  • Both SPN and dieckol at a final concentration of 50 μg/mL significantly inhibited HMGCoA reductase activity by approximately 78% and 61%, respectively. R
  • Eckol and dieckol significantly inhibited 5α-reductase activities in a dose-dependent manner, whereas phloroglucinol and triphlorethol-a had slight or no inhibition. R
  • E cava can also promote hair growth via KATP channel opening. R
  • E. cava (EC) led to the highest growth effects on three LABs (Lactobacillus brevis, L. brevis; Lactobacillus pentosus, L. pentosus; Lactobacillus plantarum; L. plantarum) and it was dose-dependent manners. R
  • Both dieckol and PFF significantly reduced the level of norepinephrine in the striatum, but only PFF significantly increased the level of NE... PFF significantly increased the level of glutamate in both the striatum and the hippocampus, and both dieckol and PFF decreased the level of GABA in the hippocampus... Both dieckol and PFF increased the level of 5-HT in the hippocampus... dieckol and PFF also increased the level of acetylcholine in all three regions of the average mouse brain (by increasing the supply of choline, and by inhibiting the metabolism of acetylcholine by acetylcholinesterase). R
  • Dieckol increased the permeability of mitochondrial membranes and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria into the cytosol with apoptosis-inducing factor. R
  • In skin, eckstolonol reduced UV-B-induced ROS, lipid peroxidation, damaged DNA levels, and cell death. These antioxidative effects seem to be due to the enzymatic activities of catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).R
  • DEK markedly attenuated Akt phosphorylation and increased expression of gp91 (phox) , which is the catalytic component of NADPH oxidase complex responsible for microglial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. R
  • E. cava extract significantly increased the survival rate and attenuated liver and kidney damage in the mice. In addition, E. cava attenuated serum levels of NO, PGE2, and HMGB-1. In macrophages, treatment with E. cava extract down-regulated iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, IL-6, and HMGB-1. In addition, E. cava suppressed the NIK/TAK1/IKK/IκB/NFκB pathway. Moreover, E. cava increased Nrf2 and HO-1 expression. R
  • Phloroglucinol significantly improved glucose tolerance in male C57BL/6J mice fed a high fat diet (HFD) and inhibited glucose production in mouse primary hepatocytes. The expression of phosphoenol pyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) and glucose-6-phosphatase mRNA and protein (G6Pase), enzymes involved in gluconeogenesis, were inhibited in liver tissue from phloroglucinol-treated mice and in phloroglucinol-treated HepG2 cells. In addition, phloroglucinol treatment increased phosphorylated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)α in HepG2 cells. R
  • SN downregulated the expression of diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) and GPAT3, Krueppel-like factor 4 (KLF4), KLF5, CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein β (C/EBPβ), C/EBPδ, and Protein C-ets-2 (ETS2), while KLF2, an anti-early adipogenic factor, was upregulated by SN. R

More Research

  • Ecklonia can be added to bread to enhance its quality. R