9 Amazing Irish Moss Health Benefits

Are you looking to improve any of the following aspects of your health with Irish Moss?

  • Balance Thyroid Production
  • Lower Cholesterol
  • Increase Hemoglobin Levels
  • Improve Skin Health

I’m about to show you what Irish Moss is, its many benefits, and how it can help improve your health while adding texture and consistency to your diet (If you have one).

Just What is Irish Moss?

Chondrus crispus—AKA Irish Moss–is a kind of cold water seaweed which has been used for centuries in Ireland. In fact, it is estimated that its use as a food additive goes back at least as far as the 15th century, and it has also been used as a mattress stuffing, thickener for printing ink, cattle fodder, and in the treatment of tuberculosis and pneumonia.

And, per Irish folklore, it was once carried on journeys for protection, as well as placed under rugs for good luck.

It should also be noted that Irish Moss isn’t really a kind of moss, but rather, a type of seaweed known of as a “Red Algae,” though its coloration may vary from green, to dark red, purple, yellow, brown, or white.

In addition to the rocky coasts of northern Europe, Irish moss grows in oceans around Asia and North America, where it still supports a healthy and sustainable industry off Prince Edward Island.

Today, as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, iodine, iron, folate, and many other essential vitamins and minerals, Irish Moss is a nutritional powerhouse with a vast array of uses—both commercial and independent.

What Makes Irish Moss so Unique?

First, let’s look at what makes Irish Moss so unique as a food additive—something which carrageenan is responsible for.

And, for those unfamiliar, carrageenan is a type of sulfated polysaccharides found in edible seaweeds such as Irish Moss which is responsible for the gooey, slimy texture. Benefits of the carrageenan extracted from Irish Moss include use as a vegetarian alternative to animal gelatins, a natural source of key vitamins, minerals and fiber, and as a skin emulsifier.

In fact, it is even used by brewers to remove hot and cold-break proteins from wort which would otherwise cause cloudiness in their beer.

From a commercial standpoint, carrageenan extracted from Irish Moss is commonly used in highly processed foods, although for this purpose it is reduced from a natural substance down to a chemical form which is devoid of natural benefits.

But, when used in its natural form, carrageenan is an effective and vastly-healthier food additive than is its commercial version.

List Of Irish Moss Benefits

Irish Moss has many benefits, not the least of which is its use as a vegetarian gelling agent.

For instance, Irish Moss is high in iodine and selenium, both of which are essential for a healthy, balanced thyroid function. Irish Moss is also a rich vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is key in reducing inflammation, mental function, and heart health.

Other health benefits of Irish Moss include:

  • As a digestive aid—Irish Moss is a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are essential in good digestion and gut health. This is because not only does fiber have a natural scrubbing effect during elimination, it is also a prebiotic, which is what healthy gut bacteria need to feed on.And, as you may be aware, colonies of gut bacteria are necessary in processing nutrition, maintaining a strong immune system, and warding off illness-causing pathogens.Irish Moss also has anti-inflammatory properties which help soothe the intestine walls, and it can also ease heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting.
  • For skin health—Often used as an emulsifier in skincare products, the carrageenan in Irish Moss can help soften skin, strengthen hair, and soften the scalp.And, in addition to its benefits as an external skincare product, Irish Moss also contains 15 of the 18 elements which make up the human body, which means it is highly useful in rebuilding damaged, undernourished skin from a cellular level.Irish moss is also good for use against eczema, some rashes, psoriasis and minor burns.
  • For joint health—Irish Moss is a wealthy source of omega-3 fatty acids and chlorophyll, both of which effectively guard against joint inflammation.And, Irish Moss also contains potassium iodide, potassium bromide, natural carrageenan, and sulfurs, all of which are purported to assist in hydrating joint cartilage for healthy joint support.
  • For bone health—Irish Moss is an excellent source of such bone-strengthening nutrients as selenium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin-k, making it a bone-health superfood.
  • Reduce the effects of radiation—The iodine from a safe, natural, and bioavailable source such as Irish Moss can displace dangerous, irradiated iodine-131 in the thyroid. This is because the thyroid doesn’t distinguish between potassium iodine and iodine-131, and when sufficient levels of iodine are present in the thyroid, it won’t absorb the irradiated iodine—which can save you from radiation poisoning! 
  • As a blood builder—Irish Moss is high in iron, folate, copper, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and chlorophyll, all of which help produce red blood cells to guard against anemia, help with altitude acclimation, and boost energy.
  • As an aphrodisiac—Often enjoyed as a drink in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean for its purported aphrodisiac properties, Irish Moss has long been considered a go-to potion for those needing a boost to their love life.And, there may be some science behind the claim!For instance, Irish Moss is high in zinc, vitamin E, and folate—all of which are necessary in producing healthy sperm.The potassium iodine in Irish Moss is also essential in maintaining a healthy thyroid, which in turn means balanced hormones. This can help both men and women enjoy a strong and vigorous sexual drive.Finally, Irish Moss is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which converts to Docosahexaenoic Acid, or DHA—a substance necessary in the formation of sperm, and for a healthy sex drive.
  • To treat illness—Irish Moss has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral properties which can help guard against illness.
     And, since it provides a source of mucilage which can divert your body from producing more mucous, it can be used to clear up cough and chest congestion, making it effective helping to abate the symptoms of colds, flu, or chest cough.Irish Moss also contains immune-boosting zinc, selenium, magnesium, and vitamin-C, all of which combine to help you ward off colds, flus, and other viral and bacterial maladies.

There are many other benefits to using Irish Moss, although these are a few of the most prevalent ones that can help you towards a longer, more healthy existence.

Common Ways To Use Irish Moss

Now that we’ve gone over just what Irish Moss is and its many health benefits, let’s fill you in on how to use it!

First, we need to point out that while you can buy processed carrageenan from your local health food store, it is NOT a good idea. This is because when you buy processed carrageenan, it is HIGHLY processed to the point that the National Organic Standards Board Handling Committee has concluded that it has been rendered a synthetic product.

In fact, the process of extracting carrageenan for commercial use turns it into a different, more dangerous substance called poligeenan.

Just to give you an idea of what we’re talking about, the process involves using a 194 degrees Fahrenheit acidic solution of PH 1 (akin to battery acid) to wash the seaweed for up to 6-hours. Once this is done, the remaining product is often dried using alcohol, which can further add impurities along with the alkali solution.

It is therefore that you avoid using commercial carrageenan, and start with the real thing, which, while itself requires some simple processing, avoids any harsh chemicals or chemical alteration.

Try this:

Start with about 13-grams (1/2-ounce) of dried Irish Moss, and gently rehydrate it in cold, fresh water (about 2-cups) for a few minutes. Once you have done this, you then need to carefully pick out any rocks, sand, shells, or crustaceans which may have been harvested along with the seaweed. Cut out any hard bits, rinse thoroughly, and discard the water.

Now, soak it in 2-cups of lukewarm (about 72-degrees) water for 30-minutes or more, which will release the gelling agent. Everything should be nice and gelatinous by this point, and you can then put everything—soak water included—in a blender for about a minute. This will produce a gel with a neutral flavor and light scent which, when refrigerated, should keep for about a week.

Now comes the fun part—using it!

Use it as a stabilizer or gelling agent in ice cream, gelatin desserts, pies, soups or sauces.

Or, use it as a facial mask for soothing skin care which will leave your skin tight, healthy and moisturized (go here for an in-depth video tutorial on how to). Simply apply the gel to your face (or other skin areas) and leave on for 5-30-minutes before rinsing with warm water. You can even leave your gel a little less smoothly blended than you would for use as a food additive for some additional exfoliating.

You can also make a natural hydrating skin lotion by first soaking 1-tbs of powdered Irish Moss in a cup of distilled water for 20-minutes, after which you will boil it in a saucepan for an additional 20-minutes. Once you have done this, strain off the solids, and you will have a clear jelly left over.

Mix ¼ cup of the carrageenan jelly with ¼ cup of Aloe Vera gel, and then using a blender at low speed, slowly blend in 2-tbs of almond oil. This will become a light lotion which you can use to add nutrition and hydration to your skin for healthy, glowing hydration. However, remember that there are no preservatives in your lotion, so it is best to keep it refrigerated, and for no longer than about a week.

These are just a few of the many uses there are for Irish Moss, and you can also add it to your DIY soap recipes, use it as a styling gel, or add it to shampoos and body gels for extra rich, sudsy lather.

You can also use carrageenan as a poultice on your skin to help heal sunburns, burns, scrapes and other small wounds, and you can even add it to your bath for a soothing way to soak life back into tired skin, joints and muscles.

Finally

No, you don’t need to follow a vegan diet to enjoy the many benefits of Irish Moss.

Nor do you need to (nor should you) use the highly refined, far less-healthy form which is commonly found in commercial food products.

However, when minimally processed, Irish Moss can be just the ingredient to bring nutritious texture and stabilization to your foods,  soothe your skin, ward off illness, and keep your thyroid safe and functioning.

In other words, it’s what’s good for you!

Scot Mills
Scot Mills
Scot Mills is a freelance writer with a strong passion for health, fitness, and everything natural. Along with over twenty-years experience selling natural and organic products, Scot’s education includes graduating at the top of his class as a business major, and he is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa International Honors Society for his outstanding scholastic achievements. When he isn't writing, Scot is an avid trail runner, cyclist, and nature enthusiast.
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