Irish Sea Moss Benefits

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: “Clarifying the confusion between poligeenan, degraded carrageenan, and carrageenan: A review of the chemistry, nomenclature, and in vivo toxicology by the oral route.”

Irish Moss: Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses

Despite its name, Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) isn’t really a moss: It’s a type of algae, or seaweed. This red, branching seaweed is found on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Britain, Europe, and North America. Irish moss plays an important role in a number of industries, but one of its most common uses is in food.

Irish moss is largely made of a jelly-like substance known as carrageenan, which makes Irish moss so broadly useful. Carrageenan can be used as a vegan substitute for gelatin, as well as a general emulsifier, so it can be found in everything from ice cream to infant formula. There is some significant controversy surrounding carrageenan and Irish moss, with studies on both sides showing that carrageenan may have both positive and negative health effects.

Here’s what you need to know about Irish moss’s effect on your health:

Health Benefits

Irish moss and other seaweeds can provide important health benefits. For example, seaweed is rich in iodine, which is an important nutrient for your thyroid. Iodine helps your thyroid produce hormones that control your metabolism, nerves, and bone growth.

In addition, Irish moss and seaweed may provide health benefits like:

Seaweed, including Irish moss specifically, is one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are critical for a healthy heart. In fact, getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is connected to a lower risk of heart disease, blood clots, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Eating seaweed and Irish moss can help you improve your heart health even if you’re not a fan of fish.

One substance found in Irish moss that may be helpful is fucoxanthin. This is a carotenoid that gives Irish moss its rich red-brown color.

Studies have shown that fucoxanthin may have significant benefits for regulating blood sugar levels. It appears to help the body respond to insulin more effectively, meaning that your body can control its own blood sugar with less work. For people with diabetes, eating Irish moss may help prevent blood sugar spikes or crashes.

Fucoxanthin and other carotenoids found in Irish moss act as antioxidants, which are known to help fight free radicals. Uncontrolled free radicals can damage cells, causing them to grow in dangerous ways — damaged cells can become cancerous. By eating seaweed like Irish moss, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

Health Risks

Although Irish moss offers many health benefits and can improve your body’s overall function, some studies have shown that carrageenan may have negative effects.

Under certain circumstances, carrageenan can be converted into “degraded carrageenan,” or poligeenan — which is known to be toxic and may cause several health problems. There is currently no scientific evidence to show that your body can convert carrageenan to poligeenan. However, some seaweed can contain poligeenan naturally.

Poligeenan can lead to inflammation of the intestines, causing problems with nutrition absorption. This can also lead to discomfort and bloating over time. It may also be linked with colitis and symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

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In large amounts, poligeenan has also been shown to cause stomach lesions and ulcers in animal studies. More poligeenan is generally connected to larger ulcers.

Finally, poligeenan has also been linked to polyps that may become cancerous. Poligeenan appears to cause problems in the digestive tract that lead to cell mutations commonly found in cancers, particularly in cases where ulcers are found.

It’s important to note that carrageenan has none of these effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that carrageenan is safe to use as a food additive, and the human body cannot produce conditions to convert carrageenan to poligeenan.

Amounts and Dosage

The FDA recommends that people consume no more than 225 micrograms of iodine daily. Since Irish moss is rich in iodine, you may want to be cautious when it comes to overeating it. In general, eating one to two servings, or 2 to 4 tablespoons, is considered safe and healthy.

Show Sources

Britannica: “Irish Moss.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: “Clarifying the confusion between poligeenan, degraded carrageenan, and carrageenan: A review of the chemistry, nomenclature, and in vivo toxicology by the oral route.”

Critical Reviews in Toxicology: “A critical review of the toxicological effects of carrageenan and processed eucheuma seaweed on the gastrointestinal tract.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Journal of Applied Phycology: “Melanoma and brown seaweed: an integrative hypothesis.”

Lipid Technology: “The carotenoid fucoxanthin from brown seaweed affects obesity.”

Lipids in Health and Disease: “Polyunsaturated fatty acids in various macroalgal species from north Atlantic and tropical seas.”

National Institutes of Health: “Iodine.”

Scientific American: “The Carrageenan Controversy.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Seaweed, irishmoss, raw.”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.

11 Benefits of Irish Sea Moss You Need to Know

With our nutritionally deplete diets, any single food source that promises to pack a nutrient punch in such a small package is worth investigating.

And that’s exactly what we’ll do today!

Irish sea moss boasts many benefits, but does it really measure up to the hype?

Let’s take a look.

What Is Irish Sea Moss?

Sea moss is a red algae technically known as chondrus crispus. It grows naturally along the Atlantic shorelines of Europe and North America.

Being incredibly nutritious, it became known throughout Europe as the superfood of the sea.

11 Little Known Benefits of Irish Sea Moss

sea moss on a rock

Enhances Thyroid Function

Irish moss is a potent stimulator of thyroid function. Studies show that this benefit is thanks to the way sea moss enhances an important hormone known as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

TSH is naturally released from the pituitary and acts directly on the thyroid gland, leading to the synthesis and release of thyroid hormone. As a result, it can be used to manage a variety of conditions affecting the thyroid such decreased production of TSH.

Irish sea moss also contains iodine and selenium, both of which are essential to the synthesis of thyroid hormones. It is these precursors that provoke the release of thyroid stimulating hormone in the first place.

Eases Joint Pain

The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties naturally found in sea moss provide an effective remedy for joint pain. Joint pain relief by sea moss is thanks to potassium iodide and potassium bromide, which are natural components of moss plants.

Boosts Metabolism

There are many metabolic regulators in the body, most of which are hormones. In this category, thyroid hormones play a key role. As mentioned previously, Irish sea moss significantly boosts the synthesis of thyroid hormone due to its rich iodine content, thereby boosting metabolism as well.

Not only that, but the iron content of this red algae facilitates rapid and efficient transport of oxygen to tissues to help meet metabolic demands. Iron also augments the metabolic activity of certain enzymes responsible for digestion.

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Supports Immune System (And Fights Infection)

Good news during flu season – Irish moss also contains bioactive compounds with potent antimicrobial effects. The most notable are sulfated polysaccharides (SP).

As to the nature of its effects on the immune system, this study showed that Irish moss supports the three major subcategories of immunity:

  • cell mediated immunity
  • humoral immunity
  • immune related gene responses

According to the study, it does so by increasing the count of almost all blood cell types. On top of that, it supports certain physiologic barriers to infection such as lysozymes and defensins.

Supports Heart Health

Disorders of the heart and cardiovascular system in general are due to some sort of issue in regulating blood flow. Moss seaweed reduces the possibility of suffering from heart conditions such as angina due to its ability to boost blood flow and improve oxygen delivery to tissues.

It also contains antioxidants that help prevent oxidative destruction of blood vessels and tissue cells by free radicals.

Helps Control Appetite

By suppressing our appetite centers, Irish sea moss helps control cravings, decreasing the chance of eating too much. It’s also very low in calories while still providing an array of nutrients.

Provides Remarkable Nutrition

Speaking of nutrients, recent studies have shown that Irish moss contains 92 out of the 102 essential minerals required by the body. However, the most outstanding component of Irish moss is its sulphur-containing amino acid called taurine.

So far according to current studies, it is the only seaweed that offers such a rich source of taurine. This is especially welcome news for vegetarians and/or vegans whose diets tend to lack taurine.

Besides that, Irish moss also contains an abundance of beta carotene, pectin, proteins, fiber, sulphur, almost all the necessary minerals, plus vitamin C and B vitamins.

This incredibly varied and rich nutrition is what makes sea moss so beneficial for various illnesses. It can almost go without saying, but then again, it’s too important of a point to pass up:

Irish Sea moss is among the world’s best options for reversing malnutrition as quickly and easily as possible.

Promotes Mental and Emotional Well Being

The mental health support of Irish moss is attributed to its dense amount of potassium. Generally, the cells of the body have no definite mechanism of conserving potassium, yet they cannot survive without it.

Using potassium supplementation from products like Irish sea moss has been studied and proven to be beneficial, especially in children with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Besides ADHD, potassium supplementation has also been proven to benefit mental healthy conditions like anxiety, depression, moodiness and agitation.

It’s a Natural Decongestant

Being rich in potassium chloride, sea moss is also effective in breaking down excess mucus caused by conditions that inflame the mucus membranes.

Thanks to this characteristic, sea moss is able to naturally alleviate congestion in the sinuses and lungs, being especially helpful in cases of the common cold, pneumonia or bronchitis.

Soothes The Digestive Tract

Products rich in fiber are the most beneficial for the digestive system, and sea moss is a perfect example of this. Ideally, it works by eliciting mild laxative effects while also managing inflammatory disorders of the gut. Common gastrointestinal conditions such as gastritis, indigestion, heartburn and nausea can be effectively managed with simple Irish sea moss.

Supports Sexual Health

Zinc and other minerals play an important role in healthy reproductive systems. Since this type of red algae boasts a superior mineral profile, Irish moss is great for improving sexual desire and alleviating feminine dryness.

How to Supplement with Sea Moss

To reap its many benefits, some people simply add cooked Irish moss to their salads and such. It’s also great blended in a smoothie!

Still others don’t like the taste in which case an Irish sea moss supplement is preferable.

You can usually find it available in powder form or capsules as well as tinctures like our Organic Irish moss tincture.

Whichever form you choose, be sure to read directions carefully to ensure proper preparation and/or administration.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population []; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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