Period Pain

Period Pain Seaweed Trial Abstract

The Attenuation of Dysmenorrhea and Menorrhagia by the Red Seaweed Kappaphycus alvarezii: A pilot study.

Authors: Leanne M Sterling J Hugh Butler July 2021

Download or read the abstract for period pain seaweed trial from a trial undertaken in 2020. Volunteers ate a small serving of seaweed on a daily basis to reduce impacts on lifestyle and to improve health and wellbeing.

M. Armour et al., “The prevalence and academic impact of dysmenorrhea in 21,573 young women: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” Journal of Women’s Health, vol. 28, no. 8, pp. 1161-1171, 2019 (Pubmed)

Biosea Health Health Benefits

Graves Disease and Seaweed

Can you eat seaweed if you have graves disease

Our advice is to not consume seaweed. The recommended diet for Graves Disease is to minimise iodine in your diet. While Pacific Seamoss is only about 15% RDI, that may accentuate the growth of the thyroid.

Will seaweed make Graves Autoimmune disease better or worse

The causes of autoimmune diseases are multiple and complex. Seaweed will likely to have an effect as it may change gut microbiome. Gut microbiome affects auto-immune diseases.

What is Graves Disease

It is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. With this disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs.

Graves’ disease is named after the doctor who charactertised it. With the overactive thyroid, there can be multiple issues.

  • Growth and development
  • Body temperature
  • Heart rate
  • Weight
  • Fertility
  • Mental health
  • Sleep
Fast facts from Endocrineweb [2].

Graves’ Disease and Seaweed

Eating seaweed if you have Graves’ Disease has complications and is generally not recommended.

  • Iodine Levels. While red seaweed is only about 15% RDI (or Dietary Intake %) in comparison to kelp species that may be 2 to 20 times, most dietary recommendations are strict regarding avoidance of iodine containing foods. Seaweed is full of healthy minerals and vitamins but the level of additional iodine would tend to rule out consumption of any seaweed.
  • Autoimmune Disease Graves is a nasty autoimmune disease. There is poor data on specific causes of autoimmune flares, and how seaweed may or may not mitigate.
  • Oligomenorrhea is a range of menstrual abnormal conditions. Too much or too little thyroid hormone can make your periods very light, heavy, or irregular. Thyroid disease also can cause your periods to stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea which generally results in painful periods (dysmenorrhea).


Having Graves’ Disease with painful periods is a terrible dilemma and a “Catch 22”. While consuming seaweed may reduce dysmenorrhea, it may come with a potential increase in severity of Graves. Basically humans are a chemical soup. Sorting out interactions will be a challenge.

From Wikipedia

Support Organisations

There are many support organisations globally – select one in your local country. Generally Graves’ disease is not classified as a disability, but for many sufferers it is life changing.

Further Reading

[1] Graves’s Disease from (Google 2020-Nov)

[2] Graves’ Disease. Wikipedia

[3] Brent GA. Clinical practice. Graves’ disease. N Engl J Med. 2008 Jun 12;358(24):2594-605. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcp0801880.

Biosea Health Health Benefits Period Pain

Seaweed Helps Perimenopause

A question asked by customers is does seaweed help perimenopause (menopausal transition)? Perimenopause [1] is that transition from the reproductive phase to menopause. It normally takes 2 to 6 years, but in some cases even longer. Systemic reviews [2] say the following 5 symptoms are typical:

  • Mood swings
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Sexual discomfort

The Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop (STRAW) criteria defines 4 stages of perimenopause or menopausal transition from a reproductive age through to menopause. “Premature menopause” is when the final menstrual period occurs before a woman is 40. “Early menopause” is when the final menstrual period occurs before a woman is 45. For women who experience premature or early menopause, HRT is strongly recommended until the average age of menopause (around 51 years), unless there is a particular reason for a woman not to take it.

From Australian Menopause Society (Whitepaper at this link)

Whats Happening?

The primary change is a change in the type of oestrogen. During the reproductive phase (from adolescent to about 50 years old) every month there is changing mix of hormones – including levels of oestrogen, progesterone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). During perimenopause, this cycle can be all over the place which is why women experience minor change to very large disruption to their life and health.

oestrogen hormone levels
Regulating hormones in the reproductive phase

There are 3 types of oestrogen.

  • In the reproductive age, the primary oestrogens is oestradiol 
  • Oestriol is a hormone made during pregnancy in the placentathat can be used to measure fetal health and predict when birth may happen.
  • In menopause, the predominant oestrogen is called oestrone.

It is this transition of oestrodiol oestrogen to oestrone oetrogen that is the primary cause of disruption during perimenopause.

Hot Flushes and Oestrogen

Hot flushes (or flashes) are not actually temperature changes but more like an adrenaline rush – which makes you feel hot, and also makes you wide awake (hence the issue with sleeplessness). Most research suggests that hot flushes occur when decreased estrogen levels cause your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus thinks your body is too warm, it starts a chain of events — a hot flush — to cool you down. For more info on hot flushes, check out the Mayo Clinic.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

HRT, also known as hormone therapy (HT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), is medication containing the hormones that a woman’s body stops producing after menopause (the oestrodial). HRT is used to treat menopausal symptoms.[7]

While HRT reduces the likelihood of some debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis, colorectal (bowel) cancer and heart disease, it may increase the chances of developing a blood clot (when given in tablet form) or breast cancer (when some types are used long-term).[7]

How Seaweed Helps Perimenopause and Menopause

There is some evidence that seaweed helps perimenopause but there has been little research focused on this. Some of the natural products include seaweed (generally kelp) and data from our Pacific Seamoss customers have commented on a large improvement. Anecdotal data is good, but what will be needed is a broader clinical trial. Remember the 5 major symptoms?

  • Mood swings. About 30 to 66 percent of menopausal people will experience menopausal depression if they have experienced previous depression, postpartum depression, premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder before menopause. Ten to 20 percent of perimenopausal people will experience anxiety and/or depression for the first time. Seaweed reduced mood swings by 50% for premenstrual symptoms of women of reproductive age. Does it also reduce mood swings for older women?
  • Urinary incontinence. Some customers reported improvement
  • Night sweats. No feedback
  • Trouble falling asleep: Most customers report better sleep
  • Sexual discomfort or dyspareunia. As estrogen levels fall as women approach and pass menopause, the resulting dryness and thinning of vaginal tissues can cause penetration and intercourse to be uncomfortable for many women. The discomfort can range from a feeling of dryness to a feeling of vaginal “tightness” to severe pain during sex. This is a very private topic, and it is unlikely customers would tell us.

Seaweed Assists General Health

Seaweed has good quantities of vitamins (Vit B1, B3, B6, B12) and minerals (K, Iodine) and is an effective pre-biotic and changes gut bacteria. [6]. It may provide some relief from osteoarthritis which may start to show up in this age group.

Seaweed May Normalise Transition

The oestrogen levels can be all over the place. Back 20 years ago there was focus on soy and phyto-estrogens which help stabilisation over the transition. These days HRT treatment is used to stabilise those changes.

Seaweed may help in the perimenopause phases by normalising hormonal swings during this transition. A pilot trial showed reduction in pain and in bleeding in younger women, and reduction in PMS symptoms in peri-menopausal participants. Teas showed reduction in oestrogen in her animal studies and in breast cancer survivors.

Seaweed Is Protective against Cancers

Prof Jane Teas from 1981 [3] to 2013 [4] looked at why seaweed was protective against a range of cancers – breast and uterine, and her conclusion was that the proposed mechanisms of action are: reduction of plasma cholesterol, binding of biliary steriods, inhibition of carcinogenic fecal flora, binding of pollutants, stimulation of the immune system, and the protective effects of beta-sitosterols. So the mechanism is unclear or complicated. It may be normalisation of oestrogen by seaweed provides some protective mechanism.

Estrogen is believed to have a positive effect on the inner layer of artery wall, helping to keep blood vessels flexible. A decline in the natural hormone estrogen may be a factor in heart disease increase among post-menopausal women.[9]

Before menopause, oestrodial is protective. Once a women moves to menopause, there no longer is that protective oestrodiol and women past peri-menopause have similar lifestyle disease (heart and cancer rates) as men.

Before You Go

Facebook is preventing a number of companies that sell lubricants for women going through menopause to advertise on its service despite allowing ads for equivalent products from brands that target men. In a post in 2019, CNBC explores the world of social media. Facebook was blocking ads that target women with menopause but allowed ads from companies selling pills for erectile dysfunction. When you investigate how much money goes into one aspect of women’s health, endometriosis, US research is less than $0.60 per person. Erectile dysfunction is 19 times that research money.


[1] Five Solutions for Menopause Symptoms The North American Menopausal Society 2020 (Google)

[2] Taebi, M., Abdolahian, S., Ozgoli, G., Ebadi, A., & Kariman, N. (2018). Strategies to improve menopausal quality of life: A systematic review. Journal of education and health promotion7, 93.

[3] Teas J 1981 The consumption of seaweed as a protective factor in the etiology of breast cancer. Medical Hypotheses Volume 7, Issue 5, Pages 601-613, ISSN 0306-9877,

[4] Teas, J et al 2013 The consumption of seaweed as a protective factor in the etiology of breast cancer: proof of principle. J Appl Phycol 25 771-779  DOI:10.1007/s10811-012-9931-0 (Click for Abstract) (Click to download full paper)

[6] Wanyonyi, S; du Preez, R; Brown, L; Paul, N; Panchal, S  2017 Kappaphycus alvarezii as a Food Supplement Prevents Diet-Induced Metabolic Syndrome in Rats. Nutrients (9) 11 DOI:10.3390/nu9111261 (Click for Abstract) (Click to download full paper)

[7] Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and menopause Victoria Health

[8] Hot flashes Patient Care & Health Information Mayo Clinic

[9] Heart disease and menopause American Heart Association

[10] Why everyone needs to know more about menopause — especially now. Washington Post 2020

Medical Disclaimer

This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Biosea Health Period Pain

Seaweed Reduces Period Bleeding

Periods are experienced by over 2.1 Billion women globally. Humans are only one of 84 species out of 5149 species [1] that suffer from bleeding in menstruation. Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) are experienced most women at sometime. Estimates of the numbers who experience dsymenorrhea regularly vary but best estimate is between 40 to 60%. In a 150 person trial in 2020, we found seaweed reduced period bleeding. Not only a reduction in duration but also in the heaviness, leading to lower use of feminine products and improved quality of life.

Women in 2019 will have approximately 400 periods over their lives, in contrast to a century ago when women would have about 40. Shorter lifespans, more children, more time spent in breastfeeding all contributed to the lower number.

From Critchley. Menstruation: science and society. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2020.

Therefore, abnormal uterine bleeding. (or AUB) is increasingly common. Women may experience significant anemia resulting in a poor physical quality of life. A negative financial effect occurs because of the cost of managing their blood loss and an inability to work outside the home. These costs, alongside a loss of caring ability, will have a negative effect on the wider family. The cost to society through loss of work days and healthcare costs is significant. A UK study showed that women on average have 8 days off work annually and other studies put the cost at over $9 billion direct costs and lost productivity per year.

Periods and Bleeding are Taboo Subjects

In 2020, Facebook has maintained a ban on an advert for women’s period undies despite its creators fighting the ruling three times.

Australian underwear brand Modibodi specialises in “leak-proof” undies that help women during their menstruation cycles as well as with incontinence. Unlike traditional sanitary pads and tampons, the underwear has a special lining built in that absorbs the bodily fluids and can be used, washed and re-used multiple times.

But the brand’s latest ad campaign, which discusses how women are made to feel “gross” when they have their periods, has been labelled “shocking” and “sensational” by Facebook for showing images of menstrual blood.

This taboo is not new [5]. In seventeenth-century Spain, in addition to being accused of spreading the plague, Jewish males were commonly assumed to menstruate: the Jewish body supposedly leaked impure blood. Certain important Spanish doctors—the king’s own physicians—demonstrated menstruation to be symptomatic in Jewish males. These physicians and other sources from the time typically combine the accusation of menstruation with that of hemorrhoids, classifying a blood flow from the anatomically ambiguous lower strata of the male body as a Jewish disease. While this was not a new accusation, in seventeenth-century Spain it was combined for the first time with legal language that sought to create a notion of “impure blood” as referring to one’s family or caste. In  Beusterien’s study, he argues that medical discourse about menstruation was here uniquely combined with legal discourse in order to create a notion of racial impurity.

How Is Period Bleeding Measured?

Which measure is the most relevant? The total number of days that the woman has bleeding? The number of heavy bleeding days? In a company pilot trial of 150 participants to investigate the effect of seaweed on dysmenorrhea, we asked trial participants to report on both the duration and heaviness of menstrual bleeding.

Seaweed Reduced Severity of Bleeding

Seaweed reduced the number of days of heavy bleeding. Before, 24% reported heavy bleed days, but afterwards, this had dropped to 12%. The number of women where heavy bleeding was only 1 day went from 6% to over 23%.

Data from 150 trial participants in May 2020. The number of heavy bleeding days.

Seaweed reduces Duration of Bleeding

A really interesting outcome for the women in the trial was that the duration of bleeding reduced by 2 days on average. Most women (70%) experience bleeding days of 4 or more. After seaweed, only 40% had days of bleeding greater than 4.

Pacific Seamoss seaweed reduces days of bleeding in menstruation
Data from trial October 2020. n=71, P=0.001. Before seaweed, 63% said their days of bleeding were 4 to 6 days. After seaweed, it halved. Those reporting 2 to 4 days rose from 31% to 55%.  I.e. For many, duration of bleeding drops about 2 days.

What Did Women Say?

Check out what trial participants said here

Tonnes of Waste

Pads and tampons are responsible for about 200,000 tonnes of waste per year – most of which contains plastic. Then there’s the secondary issue of flushing used products down the toilet, with nearly 0.5% of all marine plastics debris being tampon applicators.[5]

From National Geographic Sept 6, 2019 [6]

This colossal waste burden however, isn’t the only ecological impact of disposable feminine hygiene products. A Life Cycle Assessment of tampons conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, found that the largest impact on global warming was caused by the processing of LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene) used in tampon applicators as well as in the plastic back-strip of a sanitary napkin requiring high amounts of fossil fuel generated energy. A year’s worth of a typical feminine hygiene product leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents. [7]


[1] Critchley H. et al. (2020) Menstruation: science and society . American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology available online 21 July 2020 Prepress.

[2] Molina, N.M.; Sola-Leyva, A.; Saez-Lara, M.J.; Plaza-Diaz, J.; Tubić-Pavlović, A.; Romero, B.; Clavero, A.; Mozas-Moreno, J.; Fontes, J.; Altmäe, S. New Opportunities for Endometrial Health by Modifying Uterine Microbial Composition: Present or Future? Biomolecules 202010, 593.

[3] Facebook bans Modibodi period underwear ad for violating guidelines 2020

[4] Beusterien, John L. “Jewish Male Menstruation in Seventeenth-Century Spain.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 73 no. 3, 1999, p. 447-456. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/bhm.1999.0097.

[5] The environmental impact of tampons and pads. (Taboo)

[6] How tampons and pads became so unsustainable (National Geographic)

[7] The Ecological Impact of Feminine Hygiene Products 2016 (Accessed 2020)

Biosea Health

Seaweed for Pain Relief

It is hard to believe that seaweed for pain relief has been studied and shown to have some good activity. But natural drugs and treatments are real and have been studied.

What is Pain?

Sensation of pain is vital for survival because it acts as an indicator to tissue-damaging condition in the body. Sensation of pain is initiated in peripheral pain receptors known as nociceptors that are only excited when there is noxious stimulus.[1] Nociceptors are free nerve endings that supply nerves to every tissue of the body except the brain and receptors can be activated by intense thermal, mechanical, or chemical stimuli. Tissue irritation or injury liberates chemicals such as prostaglandins (PGs), kinins, and potassium ion that stimulate nociceptors.[2]

Drugs for Pain Relief

Analgesic drugs are medication that reduce pain. There are several mechanisms of action to provide relief.

  • Drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen block the formation of PGs; thus, nociceptors are not stimulated.[3]
  • Local anesthetics such as novocaine block the conduction of nerve impulse along the axons of first-order pain neurons, giving short-term pain relief.
  • Morphine and other opiate drugs act by changing the quality of pain perception in the brain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the most prescribed medications and have proved to be useful in the management of chronic pain disorders, but prolonged use leads to renal and gastrointestinal side effects.[4] The use of NSAIDs among patients with first-time myocardial infarction was associated with persistent increased coronary risks.[5] There are also the tendency of increased new acute myocardial infraction risk with current use of some NSAIDs, especially parenteral NSAIDs.

Natural Plants and Extracts for Pain Relief

Marine organisms including seaweeds contain biological compounds that have medicinal properties such as analgesic and anti-inflammatory.[7] This research was from Cuba, and Cuba is renowned for lack of western drugs and uses natural products regularly.

So Zakaria and others in an experiment took mice and then gave them acetic acid and measured their writhing. And they confirmed that Pacific Seamoss may possess protective active constituents effective in reducing the sensation of pain in mice.

Read more here in their paper. [6]

Seaweed for Pain Relief

Customers of Pacific Seamoss experience period pain relief, or pain in exercise. Maybe this is part of the explanation.


1. Dubin AE, Patapoutian A. Nociceptors: The sensors of the pain pathway. J Clin Invest. 2010;120:3760–72. [PMC free article] [PubMed

Tortora GJ, Derrickson B. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons; 2014. [Google Scholar]

3. Wecker L, Crespo LM, Brody TM, Dunaway G, Faingold C, Watts S. Brody’s Human Pharmacology: Molecular to Clinical. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby/Elsevier; 2010. [Google Scholar]

4. Ruoff G, Lema M. Strategies in pain management: New and potential indications for COX-2 specific inhibitors. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003;25:S21–31. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

5. Shau WY, Chen HC, Chen ST, Chou HW, Chang CH, Kuo CW, et al. Risk of new acute myocardial infarction hospitalization associated with use of oral and parenteral non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs (NSAIDs): A case-crossover study of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance claims database and review of current evidence. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2012;12:4. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

6 Zakaria A, Jais MR, Ishak R. Analgesic Properties of Nigella Sativa and Eucheuma Cottonii Extracts. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2018;9(1):23-26. doi:10.4103/jnsbm.JNSBM_131_17

7. Vázquez AI, Sánchez CM, Delgado NG, Alfonso AM, Ortega YS, Sánchez HC. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of red seaweed Dichotomaria obtusata. Braz J Pharm Sci. 2011;47:111–8. [Google Scholar]

Biosea Health

Magnesium in Seaweed

Magnesium in seaweed is implicated for general pain relief as well as dysmenorrhoea.

Women with dysmenorrhoea have a lower serum magnesium. (Chhabra 2017) There was also a Cochrane Review on the role of magnesium. (Parazzini et al. 2017) Skibola in 2004, and Jane Teas both used kelp which has a higher magnesium content than Kappaphycus – the species Biosea Health uses.

However, there is evidence of COX pathway inhibition from extracts. (Makkar & Chakraborty 2017; Zakaria et al. 2018)

Magnesium is not the whole reason why women find reduction of pain from eating Pacific Seamoss for dysmenorrhea. The fibre contributes to gut health and a change in microbiome, but even this does not explain the whole range of improvements women get.

In a pilot trial on dysmenorrhea, we asked about supplements that trial participants were taking. We had 8 women who were taking a dedicated magnesium supplement every day, that is excluding multi-vitamins. Seven provided pre and post seaweed pain data. A quick paired-samples t-test is significant, which suggests that seaweed activity is over and above the impact of magnesium.

magnesium in seaweed is moderate but seaweed reduces pain more than magnesium
The median pain before seaweed was 8. After seaweed was 2. (Paired T test probability P>0.007)


Chhabra, S 2017, Primary dysmenorrhea and serum magnesium in young girls A pilot study: Nessa J gynecology.

Makkar, F & Chakraborty, K 2017, Antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory potential of sulphated polygalactans from red seaweeds Kappaphycus alvarezii and Gracilaria opuntia, International Journal of Food Properties, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 1326-37.

Parazzini, F, Di Martino, M & Pellegrino, P 2017, Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review, Magnesium research, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 1-7.

Zakaria, A, Jais, MR & Ishak, R 2018, Analgesic properties of nigella sativa and eucheuma cottonii extracts  Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 23.

Biosea Health Period Pain

Period Poverty- Seaweed?

A number of countries including New Zealand and Australia have identified period poverty as a social issue to be fixed. In November 2020 Scotland announced a program as well.

Period poverty is the term used to describe the inability to purchase sanitary products and it presents a significant obstacle to health, comfort, and engagement with school and community activities.

New Zealand tackles ‘period poverty’ with free sanitary products for all schoolgirls was the headline. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, announced a trial program. More than 90,000 girls stay away from school because they cannot afford pad or tampons.

About 30% of the 1.2 billion women suffer from period pain (dysmenorrhea) and a key issue is they often suffer heavy bleeding. When they have heavy bleeding, they have to use more feminine hygiene products. When the blood loss from a period is greater than 80ml / period or the period duration is greater than 7 days the technical medical term is called menorrhagia.

A consequence of menorrhagia is the women suffer from low iron levels and that sets in train a whole medical intervention with iron supplements and that often results in constipation. The combination of all this can be severe.

Girls in New Zealand high schools will no longer have to pay for sanitary products after the government announced it would foot the bill in an attempt to stamp out widespread period poverty. Prime minister Ardern said sanitary supplies for a monthly period were not a luxury, but a necessity and too many girls were skipping school because they weren’t able to afford pads and tampons. Schools in deprived areas also reported girls being forced to use toilet paper, newspaper and rags in an attempt to manage their period. Fifteen Waikato schools (near Hamilton NZ) – identified as those most in need – will have access to free products from term three of this year, with the programme going nationwide on an opt-in basis by 2021.

Otago University found girls who experience period poverty face lifelong implications “for their health, emotional development, education and career prospects”

Isobel Marshall – Australian Of the Year

At just 18 years of age, Isobel Marshall co-founded TABOO with school friend Eloise Hall, to help women around the world by breaking down stigma around menstruation and providing greater access to hygiene products. In Jan 2021, Isobel was recognised for driving the campaign in Australia conjunction with TABOO and Vinnies Women’s Crisis centre, providing free access to pads and tampons for women who require emergency accommodation in South Australia. Recognising period poverty is not just a big city issue, they also support the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council.

While research about period poverty is limited the available evidence shows that poor menstrual management can affect the emotional and physical health of young women and can influence school attendance. A US study conducted in 2017 found that one in five American girls aged 16 – 24 have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products.

A 2018 survey in the UK by a manufacturer Always claimed 137,700 girls in the UK missed school in 2017 because they couldn’t afford sanitary items. That survey also found that 55 percent of teachers were aware of girls in their school being unable to afford sanitary products.

Poverty Pain in India

Other countries have also identified period poverty. India. Two young entrepreneurs with a charity in South Australia have launched their own social enterprise selling sanitary products whose profits will go to disadvantaged women fighting period poverty around the world.

Period Poverty in Scotland

Period poverty: Scotland first in world to make period products free. Read about this from the BBC in November 2020. Note that this was in politics section, not the health section of the BBC, as reduction of period poverty is a political and social initiative.

Period poverty is when those on low incomes can’t afford, or access, suitable period products.

Seaweed reduces period bleeding and period pain
Buying products (Getty Images)

With average periods lasting about five days, it can cost up to £8 a month for tampons and pads, and some women struggle to afford the cost.

So the Scottish Government decided to make feminine hygiene products free.

Periods Shame

Period poverty is a real issue that is under-researched,” Dr Ruth Knight from The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies based at QUT Business says. In most studies, teachers and researchers say

“They felt that students generally loathe their periods and given periods are a sensitive topic, this compounds the embarrassment and shame in talking about the topic, which may prevent some girls asking for help or advice.”

Staff from study in Australian Queensland schools

Can Seaweed Reduce Period Poverty

We suggest seaweed will make a substantial reduction for period poverty.

  • Seaweed reduces dysmenorrhea (period pain) based on indicative pilot trials and customer feedback
  • Seaweed reduces the burden of menstruation based on indicative data.
  • Seaweed is natural, organic and just a food.
  • Alternative strategies recommended are heat pack, NSAIDS and oral contraception.

Ask us about how seaweed may make a difference to your daughter in this socially vulnerable age and environment.

Period Pain

Period Pain Trial Thanks

Thank you for signing up to the Period Pain Trial. Thanks from us and from 900 million women aged between 15 and 25 and 1.2 Billion women aged from 30 to 50 years. We want to look at the effect of eating about 3g of dry seaweed every day.  We have women in a number of countries participating.  We will be in contact with you shortly

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the next steps?

  1. We’ll send you the first 6 weeks of seaweed capsules (180)
  2. We’ll also send a blood pressure machine so you can test your blood pressure. The instructions are in the box. We will be asking you to provide your weight, height and waist measurements. (You will need a tape measure!)
  3. We ask you to fill out the first survey. It is about your current health, period pain in the past. It is detailed and asks physical and psychological questions.
  4. Take 4 capsules per day. We suggest 2 at breakfast and 2 at dinner.
  5. At 4 weeks we ask you to do a followup survey.
  6. We’ll then post out the next 6 weeks of capsules.
  7. At 8 weeks and at 12 weeks you do another questionnaire.
  8. You can withdraw at any stage

Is the product Philippines FDA or Australia approved?

In the Philippines the product does not need FDA approval as it is not a medicine but is undergoing registration and will be available over the counter in drug stores. It is pure, clean and just dry seaweed. Grown at farms in the waters off Samal Island it is harvested, brought quickly to a drying processing center and immediately dried to about 20-30-% moisture. It is then transferred to a registered nutraceutical contract production company in Davao who further dries the product to 5%, mills it to reduce to small particles then packages the powder into capsules. 

Who Sells Seaweed?

It is sold and distributed from Seaweed for Humanity, Inc from the Philippines so you are entitled to purchase and receive it. It is not a “traditional food” in Australia, UK, USA or New Zealand but is in the Philippines. It is just Food. Food for Health.

Is it safe?

Yes, it is just seaweed (Kappaphycus alvarezii ) and the same that you can buy in most wet markets throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, or Malaysia. However even if you wanted to it is very hard to buy good clean seaweed, every day at a consistent price and have it in your refrigerator (ref) or out where it can spoil. We make it easy.  It is just dry seaweed.

What Safety Checks

We check each batch for heavy metals (bad for health if in the water or the product and the levels are within or lower than the regulations.) We check each batch for biological contaminants as per established food processing guidelines. (HACCP / ISO22000) If any contamination – out it goes. So you can be assured the product is safe to consume.

Was this a clinical trial?

This was not a clinical trial.  This was a field trial designed to give us enough information to properly design a clinical trial. In a clinical trial some participants get the real product, and some don’t. In many clinical trials the people in charge of the trial don’t even know who got the real product.  In this trial everyone gets the product and we are assessing the results to see if there is enough evidence for us to go to a full clinical trial. 

However it is still important to us that you answer all the survey questions and report accurately – we all get a better report that way.

Is the survey confidential?

ABSOLUTELY.  This is a key consideration of this survey. We have appointed a medical researcher to be the survey project manager. Her name is Lea and you can contact her directly to discuss any of the issues. She is the only person who will have information on the name and the # of any participant. The survey is designed to keep this information confidential by only using the # of the capsule supply as the ID point. We already have individuals. This is about the “general” case.

Is this local or global?

We are already selling the product in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Germany, UK and the Philippines.  Women with dysmenorrhea are in every country, and in some countries are subject to further pain including social and religious prejudices. This product is produced using global standards of testing, processing and packaging. Currently packaged in a gel capsule for ease of consumption but it is available as powder (with smoothies, chocolate or bread).

Whats the Retail Cost?

The cost is about $US1.00 per day with free shipping.

What are the benefits?

The first customers had their painful periods go from a 8 or more to a 3 or less.

Painful periods trial scale
Typical pain measuring scale.

Is Seaweed Good Food?

Seaweed has been eaten in the Philippines for hundreds of years. Many studies over the decades show seaweeds contain many helpful compounds to aid our health. Seaweed extracts all these compounds from the seawater it lives in as it grows and matures. Vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics all play a part.

Vitamins and Minerals

Seaweeds contain lots of minerals especially potassium (K), zinc (Zn), Iodine (I), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Iron (Fe). Check the label for some of the RDA figures.

Contains vitamins – C, A, B1, B3, B6, and some of these are up to 20% of RDA

Seaweed has anti-inflammatory compounds identified.

Other Benefits of Seaweed

These contribute to a great result in pain and inflammation reduction.  For some of the benefits check out the top 20 that customers have told us.

What’s the Next Stages?

This is the first part of our studies to be continued over the next 2 years to find out the scientific answers to these questions. Many companies have tried to extract useful compounds from seaweed, but we know that the whole food is better than individual compounds.

Side Effects

There are few side effects from eating seaweed.

  • Your microbiome changes and there may be smells for a few days as your stomach gets used to the extra fiber. We recommend to start slow for you tummy to adjust to more fiber.
  • Your nails may grow stronger
  • Your hair may grow faster
  • If you have an auto-immune disease we suggest introduce seaweed slowly. Maybe 1 capsule per day for a few days, then build up slowly to 4 per day.

How is the seaweed Grown?

Seaweed is grown sustainably in clean water. It is formally organic certified. We have implemented plate to gate tracking systems. Seaweed is grown from cuttings on ropes in the ocean. Our seaweeds are harvested at 45 days and we think this means they have optimal healthy content.

Why Whole Food, Not Extracts?

Professor Lindsay Brown from University of Southern Queensland says that extraction of individual compounds is in error. We are better to eat the whole seaweed product with all its goodness complete.

Has This Been Done Before?

This is the first trial of its kind about seaweed that we know about anywhere in the world.  While we know the Philippines / Japan / Korea / China / Indonesia have eaten seaweed for hundreds of years. However consumption is a lifestyle driven process. It is not consistent and the quality and quantity varies. We know real benefits come from regular consumption of this great food, at a minimum level over a period of months and years. You can only consume like that with a packaged product.

How long is the trial? 

Please take capsules for 90 days. This covers 2 to 3 cycles. We will be able to get results which are not just restricted to a single cycle but will show a trend. It is important that you fill out the interim survey as well as the initial one so we can get continuous information for our study.

Who is the company?

The company is Marine Algae and is really two companies. The Australian company is providing research, science and marketing expertise and the Philippines company is providing farming, processing and distribution facilities. Dr. Hugh Butler PhD runs the Australian arm of the business and Gray Goodwin the Philippines arm. Gray (an Aussie) has lived and worked in Davao for 13 years and has a family in Davao. 

Seaweed for Humanity

We have established a not-for-profit Foundation and are planning to support many Filipino fisherfolk with fair prices and fair trade dealings in the purchase and processing of our product. We expect this to continue and expand as our business matures.

Survey is so detailed. Why?

We are trying to get a lot of information so that when we come to the clinical trial we will have a very clear idea of what information we need to get evidence or confirmation of our feelings about the benefits of seaweed in addressing the problem of Dysmenorrhea.  Unfortunately, dysmenorrhea is a very badly neglected area of medical science and millions of young women (2.1 billon world wide) have been left to fend for themselves with only pain killers and in many cases nothing else – to deal with the dislocation of their life due to the effects of Dysmenorrhea.  We sincerely hope you can work with us to find a solution. Groups such as Australian Pelvic Pain Foundation do great work to raise the profile.

Project Manager?

Mrs Lea Sterling is running this project for Marine Algae.  She is a mother of three, Teacher, and Science Researcher who is passionate about Women’s Health and Wellbeing. Lea holds a Bachelor of Science (Double major in Biochemistry/Physiology), Bachelor of Music Education and Graduate Diploma in Psychology. She has also partly completed a Masters of Scientific Studies and Bachelor of Nursing (Graduate Entry). With training in both medical ethics and counselling, Lea brings a humanistic approach to her professional work. She has acted as a consultant to business across the health, finance and education sectors. In her role as a researcher at Marine Algae.  Lea is aiming to complete a Doctor of Philosophy in Women’s Health. This project is part of that work.

Period Pain Trial Thanks

  • Your answer to our survey will assist us in planning a larger formal clinical trial late this year. 
  • Your answers will help 0.9 Billion women worldwide aged 15 to 29 who suffer from dysmenorrhea.   
  • Your answers may help a further 1.2 Billion women aged 30 to 50
  • We will send you summary results of the data we collect at the conclusion.

There may be opportunities for you to participate in the full clinical trial but we will advise you in due course.

In the meantime, we have a special deal for you to try for a month, just for the cost of postage. Why not? Even the postage is refunded if it does not work for you. What is there to lose. Head to this page for more info

Questions? Call or email

Questions? Call Hugh on +61414757540, or Lea +61 413 746 962
In the Philippines call Dale (0917 714 4503 or Messenger)