What other names is Agar known by?

Agar-Agar, Agarose, Agarose Gel, Agaropectin, Agarweed, Algue de Java, Chinese Gelatin, Colle du Japon, Garacilaria confervoides, Gélatine de Chine, Gelidiella acerosa, Gelidium amanasii, Gelidium cartilagineum, Gelidium crinale, Gelidium divaricatum, Gelidium pacificum, Gelidium vagum, Gelosa, Gelosae, Gélose, Japanese Isinglas, Kanten Diet, Kanten Jelly, Kanten Plan, Layor Carang, Mousse de Ceylan, Mousse de Jaffna, Qion Zhi, Seaweed Gelatin, Vegetable Gelatin, Vegetarian Gelatin.

What is Agar?

Agar is a plant. People use it to make medicine.

People take agar to lose weight, especially in Japan. In Japan agar is called "kanten," and it is the main ingredient in "the kanten plan" or "the kanten diet."

Agar is also used to treat diabetes and constipation.

In dentistry, agar is used to make dental impressions.

In manufacturing processes, agar is used as an ingredient in emulsions, suspensions, gels, and certain suppositories.

Possibly Effective for...

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Diabetes. Taking a product containing agar gel (Slim Kanten) by mouth daily while following a traditional Japanese diet for 12 weeks does not improve pre-meal blood sugar levels or insulin resistance in obese people with type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance more effectively than following a traditional Japanese diet alone. However, agar seems to help lower body weight and body mass index in these individuals.
  • High levels of a chemical called bilirubin in the blood of newborns (infant jaundice). Most early research suggests that giving agar by mouth for 5 days does not reduce bilirubin levels in infants with newborn jaundice. However, when given by mouth along with light therapy, agar seems to increase the bilirubin-lowering effects of light therapy and reduce the length of time that light therapy is needed.
  • Constipation.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of agar for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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