Laminaria

What other names is Laminaria known by?

Algue Brune, Brown Algae, Brown Seaweed, Hai Dai, Kelp, Kombu, Kun Bu, Laminaire, Laminaire Digitée, Laminaire Japonaise, Laminaria digitata, Laminaria japonica, Laminariae stipites, Limu, Makombu Thallus, Sea Girdles, Seagirdle Thallus, Thallus Laminariae.

What is Laminaria?

Laminaria is a type of seaweed that is native to Japan. Laminaria contains iodine, an element that the body needs to make thyroid hormones. It is also a rich source of iron and potassium. Despite serious safety concerns about laminaria, some people use laminaria as medicine.

Laminaria is used for weight loss, high blood pressure, as a bulk laxative for constipation, and for treating radiation sickness. It is also used for preventing cancer.

Sometimes healthcare providers use laminaria to expand the cervix, the mouth of the uterus, before certain medical procedures. They place a layer of laminaria directly inside the cervix, the "neck" of the uterus. This layer of laminaria is sometimes called a "tent." The purpose of the tent is to enlarge the cervix before "D&C," also known as dilation and curettage (scraping of the uterus); removal of a medical device that is in the uterus; diagnostic procedures; placement of radium for cancer treatment; and other gynecological procedures. Laminaria tents are also used in pregnant women to "ripen" (expand) the cervix to make labor and delivery easier, and also to cause abortions during the first three months of pregnancy.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Preparation ("ripening") of the cervix in women, such as during childbirth or procedures. Although laminaria might speed up childbirth, it doesn't seem to reduce the number of women who need Cesarean sections to deliver. Laminaria also increases the chance of infection in both mother and infant.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of laminaria 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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