Irish moss or sea moss is a type of red seaweed or algae that offers several health benefits. It can look yellowish, greenish to purplish and reddish brown. It is an important plant in the food industry because carrageen, a complicated mixture of polysaccharides, is extracted from it. The plant grows extensively around the islands of Ireland and Great Britain and can be found further along the entire European coast. Almost 20 centimeters in height, the plant is used in phytotherapy, mainly in coughing and diseases related to the lungs.
The Latin name for Irish moss or sea moss is Chondrus crispus. In Dutch, it is known as carrageen, a word that descends from the Irish word carraigín, which means small rock (in reference to the fact that it grows on underwater rocks). Irish moss is a name that refers to the same facts.
Carrageenan Extract vs Irish Sea Moss Carrageenan
Carrageenan, a form of polysaccharide, is derived from Chondrus crispus (Irish moss), along with other variants of red edible seaweeds, including Kappaphycus alvarezii.
“Food grade” carrageenan, which is a chemically processed carrageenan extract tends to lose its nutritional value and is nothing like a whole Irish moss seaweed. Processed carrageenan is a unique element that is extracted from red seaweeds & treated with major alkali solutions, such as potassium hydroxide.
While it’s processing, the vital cellulose gets eliminated from the seaweed and is replaced with around 5 to 8 percent of potassium hydroxide. “Even a small solution of potassium hydroxide (around 0.5 to 2.0%) may cause your skin to irritate, whereas a concentration of over 2 percent can be corrosive.” (Source)
According to National Library of Medicine, potassium hydroxide is a toxic chemical which can have a serious impact on your health if ingested. The proportion of potassium hydroxide found in the extract of carrageenan is yet to be proven, nonetheless, it is a factor that must be taken into account.
Furthermore, food-grade carrageenan extract tends to degrade by the acids present in your stomach, which transforms it into poligeenan, a potentially carcinogenic element. As per the report on the research conducted by Cornucopia Institute, “Poligeenan (degraded carrageenan) is a powerful inflammatory agent used by scientists on a regular basis to produce inflammation and other ailments in lab animals, to examine anti-inflammatory medications & other pharmaceuticals.”
There are additional questionable additives approved by the FDA which are being prolifically used in packaged foodstuffs. Hence, it is best if you avoid regular intake of highly processed foods entirely & follow a diet that is primarily based on whole foods and packaged items that use whole food ingredients.
Irish moss, when consumed in its true form (sea moss gel or broth) can, in fact, help relieve gastrointestinal & other inflammatory issues, as opposed to isolated carrageenan extracts which tend to do the opposite. In the past, many cultures worldwide have used seaweed due to its benefits associated with the digestive tract.
Nutrients in Irish Sea Moss
Irish moss has fantastic properties, it contains 15 of the 18 essential minerals we need. These include calcium, iodine, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, iron, bromine, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and pectin. In addition, Irish moss contains all the major vitamins along with proteins and antioxidants required by the human body. The amount of taurine found in Irish moss powder is way more than that in other types of seaweed. Taurine is important for the heart to function properly. It strengthens the heart muscle and plays a vital role in the contraction mechanism of the heart. It also ensures that the mineral balance of the cell is maintained, which is also important for the heart muscle. Taurine also plays a key role in bile acid metabolism and helps to bind fats in the intestinal tract, promoting the digestion and absorption of nutrients from our food. The main ingredient of Irish moss is a polysaccharide, which helps strengthen your immune system.
Irish Moss Benefits
1. Irish moss tea for the throat and lungs
Irish moss tea can absorb a lot of water. This makes the mucilage active and gives it its soothing characteristic for the throat.
Irish moss is used in phytotherapy for indications like:
Coughing up phlegm,
Various lung conditions.
2. Adjuvant in stomach problems
Irish moss drink is used as an adjunct to gastritis because it softens the mucous membranes. The soothing effect on its own might not be enough to cure a condition, however, since it can also act as an adjuvant, it can help other active substances. For this reason, Irish moss is used by therapists for the following indications:
Gastritis or gastric wall inflammation,
Gastric and duodenal ulcers,
Nephritis or kidney inflammation,
Cystitis or cystitis.
3. Controls calories
Consumption of Irish sea moss helps in the formation of a gel in the stomach and intestines. This has two major effects on diabetic patients with obesity. First, sugars are absorbed in the gel and are gradually released. The food digests slowly which helps preserve required blood sugar level. Secondly, the gel provides a feeling of fullness that reduces the urge to overeat. Because of these two reasons, Irish moss drink is an excellent food resource for diabetic patients with obesity. Obviously, diabetics who do not have obesity can also benefit from less fluctuating blood sugar levels. However, you do not have to take a course based on carrageenan permanently. It is a temporary solution to lose some kilos during a few weeks without feeling hungry.
Concentrate on eating healthy without consuming too many white flour products and adding lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
4. Relieves thyroid problems
Thyroid issues are typically caused as a result of the unnatural production of thyroid hormones – either too few (hypothyroidism) or too many (hyperthyroidism).
Thus, a number of people have started consumption of Irish sea moss due to the fact that the iodine content in the plant is more concentrated as compared to that in any other source.
Thyroid relies on a steady intake of iodine so as to transform it into hormones.
Similarly, selenium which is found in adequate amounts in organic sea moss or carrageen moss also plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormones.
5. Blocks HPV transmission
HPV or the human papillomavirus is among the most common STD’s in the United States. A lot of research is being conducted in order to reduce and treat the symptoms of the disease, although symptoms occasionally occur.
The obvious choice here would be to consume something which can prevent the virus from transmitting in the first place, as condoms might not be as effective.
The red algae contained in the sea moss whole foods creates carrageenan, i.e., (a type of gel) that are extracted from the Irish moss mainly for adding in food or cosmetic purposes.
Dr. John Schiller from the National Cancer Institute, along with his associates discovered that carrageenan can block the virus from infecting its target cells.
6. Fights cancer
In the past few years, a number of studies have been conducted on the algae present inside the sea moss & how it might be helpful in slowing down the development of cancerous cells.
At the end of these studies, it was concluded that algae are powerful enough to eliminate oral cancer in animals. Also, it can treat mouth sores (leukoplakia) which are being diagnosed as precancerous in human beings.
The first-ever study on a human being revealed that ingesting 1 gram of the algae found in sea moss on a regular basis for a period of 12 months can minimize the symptoms of oral leukoplakia in individuals who chew tobacco quite often.
In studies conducted on animals, it was found that the algae can offer powerful radio-protective and chemo effect. The algae also protected the animals from the serious side effects of chemotherapy & the radiation associated with it.
7. Promotes positive mental/emotional health
Sea moss gel contains an adequate amount of vitamins, primarily potassium. Seaweed is well-known to promote positive mental/emotional well-being as well as relieve symptoms of irritability, anxiety, anger, fibromyalgia, and depression.
Potassium is commonly related to mood swings & according to a research, a diet containing high amounts of potassium can help reduce symptoms of depression and stress much faster as opposed to those with lower potassium content.
A cup of Irish moss powder contains around 588 milligrams of potassium while a cup of diced banana (known for its high potassium content) contains only 422 milligrams of potassium.
8. Helps lower cholesterol levels
The algae contained in the seaweed is effective in lowering the amount of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your body. Irish sea moss which is packed with phytosterols makes maintaining low cholesterol levels a breeze.
Besides, a recent study discovered the algae can be powerful in reducing increased amounts of blood lipids in folks suffering from hyperlipidemia nephrotic syndrome.
9. Acts as an anti-inflammatory drug and a natural painkiller
Irish moss drink is a rich source of chlorophyll and omega-3 fats along with other powerful anti-inflammatory elements. Experts have confirmed that the algae extract packs plenty of anti-inflammatory and painkilling compounds which makes it a natural pain reliever.
Along with anti-inflammatory properties, it was proven that the algae prevented the development of gastric ulcers to a great extent. A regular dosage of 50 milligrams of Irish moss powder or gel can greatly help you keep gastric ulcers at bay.
Irish Moss Recipe:
Below is a video showing you how to prepare your healthy Irish sea moss recipe quickly and easily:
How Much Do I Need?
For optimal results, you can use 1 to 2 tablespoons of sea moss gel every day, which is about 4 to 8 grams. For this, simply stir the gel in your soup or smoothies. Since it is odorless and tasteless, you don’t have to worry about a salty smoothie.
Sea Moss Gel: Things to Remember:
- It is better not to buy Irish moss gel if you are allergic to seaweed or algae.
- Consult with your doctor first if you have low blood pressure or are taking medicines (especially blood pressure regulating and anticoagulation medications).
- It is better not to buy Irish moss if you have (had) stomach ulcers.
- Occasionally, Irish moss can cause bleeding, low blood pressure, cramps, infections, diarrhea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting in some people.
- It is better not to buy Irish moss if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.6. The use of Irish moss powder is not recommended for children, because the seaweed can suppress the functioning of a natural immune system.