The medicinal part of the plant is the seaweed's gelatinous extract known as Agar or Agar-Agar.
Flower and Fruit
This perennial seaweed grows up to 1 m long. The thallus sprouts from a permanent base every year and is heavily branched. It is cylindrical or flattened, pinnately subdivided and tough. The brownish-white, translucent thallus has prickly appendages on the branchings. The fruit is spherical.
Agar is colorless and tasteless. It is capable of absorbing up to 200 times its volume of water to form a jelly.
The plant is indigenous to the Pacific coasts of Japan and China, Sri Lanka and also the South African coasts.
Agar, or Agar-Agar, is the purified and bleached gel derived from algae mucilage of the Rhodophyceae Gelidium amansii (Lamour), which has been dried and cut into thread-like strips. An aqueous extract is obtained from the algae through autoclaving (pressure-cooking), using over-heated steam. It is then chilled in ice cells and cooled into ice-blocks, which are crushed and thawed. Water separates from the gel during the thawing process. The gel mass is dried using warm air.
Agar-Agar, Japanese Isinglass
Actions & Pharmacology
Heteropolysaccharides: made up of D-galactose- and 3,6-anhydro-L-galactose- components, partially bearing sulfate or pyruvic acid residues, low-sulfate fraction designated agarose
The drug has a laxative effect due to its ability, similar to that of cellulose, to absorb and retain large quantities of water and swell in the intestine. The mucilaginous substances cause an increase in the bulk of the content of the intestine that stimulates the intestinal muscles, thereby aiding peristalsis.
Indications & Usage
The drug is used as a mild laxative.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Mode of Administration
The drug is used internally.
Laxative: Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of the powder, always with some liquid, fruit, or jam before meals, 1 to 3 times daily. Never take dry!
Dried Agar can be kept tightly sealed for up to 5 years without being opened and tested.