Facts about Devil Weed (Sargassum horneri)

Posted on: 05/31/2016 - Viewed: 19180
Facts about Devil Weed (Sargassum horneri)

Biological Description: Immature specimens have flat, symmetrical, fern-like blades with notched tips. As the alga grows, it becomes loosely branched in a zigzag pattern, develops small air bladders and may reach the length of more than 20 feet. Very thick, nearly impenetrable forests may form.


Empire                 Eukaryota

Kingdom              Chromista

Phylum                Phaeophyta

Class                   Phaeophyceae

Order                   Fucales

Family                 Sargassaceae

Genus                 Sargassum

Common names:

Devil weed, akamoku

Geographical distribution

Sargassum horneri is now considered to be the same species as S. filicinum. It forms marine forests and commonly occurs in South Korea, Japan and China.


A native species to Asia, Sargassum horneri was first discovered in California Long Beach Harbor in 2003. Concern over a rapid spread and growing abundance of this invasive alga along California and the Pacific coast of Mexico prompted the formation of S. horneri Working Group to explore control measures.



Chemical Composition

As published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, Hossain at al investigated the biochemical composition of Sargassum horneri.


The following data were obtained:


Sample 1(January)

Sample 2 (February)

Moisture content
















The values are in % of dry weight. More specific fatty acids analysis led the scientists to conclude that S. horneri is a potential source of valuable glycolipids.


Heo at al determined the following approximate composition of S. horneri in % of dry weight in a study on antioxidant compounds:

Moisture              5.19

Ash                      20.83

Protein                          17.23

Carbohydrate               55.45

Lipid                     1.33



Specific Components/Derivatives


A Korean study by Kim at al published in 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22775999

and in 2013 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23278330,

suggests that sargachromanol E isolated from S. horneri prevents cell damage induced by UVA radiation, as shown in this study using dermal fibroblasts. The human in vitro model was employed to investigate the inhibitory effect of this compound on skin aging.


The effect of brown seaweed lipids on fatty acid composition and lipid hydroxyperoxide levels of mouse liver were studied by Airanthi at al at Hokkaido University. The increased hepatic DHA and AA levels in mice fed with Sargassum horneri lipids were attributed to the fucoxanthin content. The lipid hydroperoxide level of the study mouse liver was found significantly lower than that of the control mouse. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21405010


Athukorala at al from South Korea evaluated 22 algal species for potential anti-coagulant activity. S. horneri was found to be one of the two species exhibiting most potent anti-coagulant activity. The researchers attributed it to either high molecular weight polysaccharide or proteoglycan.


Full text: http://www.aseanbiotechnology.info/abstract/21021483.pdf


A group of Japanese scientists isolated a novel antivirally active fucan sulphate from S. horneri hot water extract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11310680 (free full text). A prior study at the same university suggested that the sulfated polysaccharide from the S. horneri hot water extract inhibited not only the initial stages of viral infection, such as attachment and penetration into host cells, but also later replication stages after virus penetration. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9703258

More information can be found here:



The Journal of Health Science published a study by Yamaguchi at al on the effect of various algae on bone calcification in the femoral metaphyseal tissue of rats. Water suspensions (5%) of marine algae powder were administered orally, once daily for 7 days. The activity of bone alkaline phosphatase, which is an enzyme for calcification, was significantly enhanced by the administration of S. horneri. Further in vitro investigation demonstrated significantly elevated bone calcium content of femoral metaphyseal tissue cultured in water-solubilized extract (25 or 50 microgram/ml) of S. horneri. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhs/47/6/47_6_533/_article

Yamaguchi, along with Uchiyama, further investigated the anabolic effect of S. horneri extract on bone components in the femoral diaphyseal and metaphyseal tissues of young and aged rats in vivo. 2.5, 5 and 10 mg/100 g body weight of S. horneri water-solubilized extract was administered daily for 7 or 14 days. The scientists suggested that the extract intake may have preventative effect on bone loss with increasing age. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhs/48/4/48_4_325/_article

In yet another study, Uchiyama and Yamaguchi also demonstrated preventative effect of S. horneri extract intake on bone loss in streptozotocin diabetic rats.

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhs/49/2/49_2_149/_article The researchers also published an in vitro study with findings indicating unique stimulatory effect of the S. horneri extract on bone formation and calcification in rat tissue culture. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhs/48/2/48_2_148/_article

Moreover, the extract has shown a direct inhibitory effect on bone resorption in tissue culture in vitro.



Heo at al from Cheju National University in Korea studied various brown algae in search for natural water soluble antioxidants which could be used as food preservatives. The collected samples were enzymatically hydrolyzed with carbohydrases and proteinases to prepare water soluble seaweed extracts, followed by antioxidant evaluation by two different assays – radical scavenging activity and inhibitory capacity of lipid peroxidation. The results suggested some contradictions in the evaluation of the antioxidant activity of seaweed by those two methods. It was noted that the two assays had unrelated mechanisms. S. horneri was one of the studied species. The study demonstrated that the enzymatic extracts showed some positive results for RSA by DPPH decolorization assay. Further studies were needed to identify the antioxidant active compounds.



Araki at al analyzed lipids in 13 species of brown algae collected near Tokyo, Japan. DGTA, a betaine lipid was found to be a major lipid component of S. horneri.



Fucoidans were isolated by water extraction and ion-exchange chromatography from S. horneri by Ermakova at al. The extracted fucoidans were separated into three fractions: homofucan sulfate, homofucan without sulfate groups, and a sulfated rhamnofucan. The conducted study clearly showed that fucoidans play an inhibitory role in colony formation in human melanoma and colon cancer cells and may be effective antitumor agents.



Taichi at al reported anti-tumor properties of S. horneri extract, observed both in vivo and in vitro. Math-A tumor bearing BULB/c female mice were treated by injection and oral administration. In vitro studies were also conducted on Meth-A cell line. Hot water extract from S. horneri showed a notable Meth-A tumor growth suppression, while the suppression by ethanol extract was poor. The hot water extract also suppressed growth of the Meth-A cell line. The observations were in part considered to be the result of apoptosis induced by sulfated polysaccharide, comparable to a well known fucoidan obtained from Fucus vesiculosus.



General Modern Usage

S. horneri is an edible seaweed known and consumed in Japan as akamoku.



The Natural Health Product Ingredient Database at Health Canada was updated on April 30, 2013; S. horneri was added to the list with role defined as “medicinal”.


Several supplements available on the market include S. horneri.



INCI directory classifies Sargassum horneri extract as skin conditioning.




A Chinese study by Dongxue at al showed that the concentrate of S. horneri can promote seed germination and seedling growth of Oenothera biennis.




Seaweed bioethanol production in Japan, called the “Ocean Sunrise Project” aims to produce bioethanol by farming and harvesting S. horneri. Through seaweed bioethanol production, the project aims to combat global warming by contributing an alternative energy source to fossil fuels.




Hydrochars derived from S. horneri were characterized physically and chemically to elucidate their potential as a valuable resource. Hydrochars were prepared by hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) of S. horneri at temperatures of 180-210 C with citric acid. Their carbon content was found to be 36.8 - 50.5%.



Heavy metal removal

Southichak at al discuss the use of S. horneri as biosorbent for the removal of Pb from aqueous solutions, applied off the coast of Japan. The results of the study indicate the presented model to be sufficient to reduce the concentration of Pb to meet the range of WHO guidelines.



Specific usage as food and food supplements

The Synergy Company

Bone Renewal Veggie Caps

S. horneri extract included as ingredient



Natural Care Corporation (Japan)

Marine Frora

Supplement capsules

Claim: Due to the seaweed content, it is expected to support a “wide range of functionalities”.



Natural Wellness Industries SDN BHD

Algae Capsule 400 mg (Item 49 on the list)

S. horneri extract

Claim: Traditionally used for relief of muscle ache

http://mynaturalwellness.com/images/nw_products_list.pdf  49



A Korean patent describes using S. horneri extract as food additive to provide anti-tumor and antibacterial protection.



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