5 – Medicinal and health benefit effects of functional sea cucumbers – ScienceDirect

Deep Sea Diamond News   •   March 27, 2019

Sea cucumbers have long been used as food and traditional medicine in Asian countries with Stichopus Hermann, Thelenota ananas, Thelenota anax, Holothuria fuccogilva, andActinopyga mauritiana as most highly-valued species. These organisms are a potential source of high value-added compounds with therapeutic properties such as triterpene glycosides, carotenoids, bioactive peptides, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, collagens, gelatins, chondroitin sulfates, amino acids. In recent years, health benefit effects of sea cucumbers have been validated through scientific research and have shown medicinal value such as wound healing, neuroprotective, antitumor, anticoagulant, antimicrobial, and antioxidant. These functional materials lead to potential development in various foods and biomedicine industries. In this review, we have presented a general view of major medicinal and health benefit effects of functional sea cucumbers from the Asia region. The structural significance and the potential application of sea cucumber-derived functional materials as well as their nutritional value are also discussed.

  • The latest trend in the food and pharmaceutical sector has been the recovery of functional ingredients from marine resources. It is well known that consumption of marine foods rich in functional ingredients beyond meeting basic nutritional needs, is also fundamental for diseases risk reduction and health promotion (Fig. 9). The composition of different sea cucumbers described in the previous section showed that these organisms can be interesting natural sources of functional ingredients. In general, sea cucumber represents good nutritional values which make them good candidates as a source of amino acids, triterpene glycosides, PUFA, polysaccharides, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, collagen, gelatin, phenolic, flavonoids, and bioactive peptides. Additionally, sea cucumber presents low contents in lipids.

  • The ocean is vulnerable to human influences such as pollutions and toxic chemicals. Toxic chemicals released to the environment from point sources such as industrial and municipal discharges and from nonpoint sources such as agricultural runoff and atmospheric deposition have contaminated surface waters and their sediments and then flow to the ocean. One of the greatest problems with many of these contaminants is their tendency to build up in the bodies of aquatic organisms at increasingly high levels. Uptake of a toxin from the water and from eating other contaminated organisms is called bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation of heavy metals in seafood poses a significant human health concern.
  • Sea cucumbers showed high potential as natural ingredients in foods as well as the pharmaceutical industry; hence, these marine organisms can be used maximally in the research areas of new drug development. However, understanding the specific structures and bioactivities relationship of marine algal fibers is still a great challenge, further, there is a considerable gap in this area compared with the isolation rate of new compounds. Adequate clinical trials are needed in the drug development of sea cucumber-derived bioactive materials. More importantly, once their biological activities and health benefit effects are demonstrated, new aspects need to be addressed such as the culture of sea cucumber, production of functional ingredients at industrial scale, extraction and purification of functional ingredients, and scientifically demonstrated health properties.