Raise your hand if you have ever heard of sea moss. Okay, for the few of you with your hands in the air, keep your hands up if you have heard of people eating sea moss. That’s what thought. Don’t feel bad. Until just last week, I hadn’t heard of it either. I was talking to a close friend and he asked me if I had ever tried sea moss. This friend is from another country and I assumed he was referring to seaweed. So I told him that yes, I had tried seaweed, that it was really good for you and additionally, I didn’t particularly care for it. He responded by telling me he was not talking about seaweed but sea moss. Now I was intrigued. Of course in the middle of our phone call I googled ‘sea moss’ and was amazed at what I read and decided that I just HAD to try it. Being that as it may, I am happy to report that my shipment of sea moss should arrive any day now!
What is sea moss and why should you care?
Sea moss is actually a type of seaweed, (so when I asked my friend if he was talking about seaweed, he actually was). For the record, sea moss (Chondrus crispus) also goes by the names Irish moss and red algae, respectively. Yum!! Sea moss is a tough, stringy red, yellow, or purple seaweed that grows up to six inches high on rocks in tidal pools along the northern Atlantic. Because it grows on rocks, it absorbs many of the minerals and other key nutrients from the rocks themselves.
How is it used?
Typically it is harvested to make carrageenan, a thickening agent for smoothies, shakes, puddings, jellies, and soups (more on this later). But it is also a traditional home remedy in Ireland. People make remedies with it usually in the form of either tea or tincture. You can also take it in pill form (encapsulated) if you so desire. When purchasing sea moss, there are typically two main forms to choose from: powdered or dried. The powdered form is best for smoothies, shakes, etc. The dried form is better for tea. Personally, I have a package of powdered on the way!
What are the Health Benefits?
- Immune Support: Sea moss is known to help both prevent and relieve cold/flu symptoms. This makes it great for either year around immunity support (preventative) or as an aid if you are sick during cold/flu season. It is a source of potassium chloride which has both anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, respectively. This mean it has the ability to reduce inflamed tissue and also expel mucous. Additionally, potassium chloride has antimicrobial and antiviral agents, so your immune system gets a boost as well. And finally, potassium chloride is great for coughs!
- Digestive Health: Because sea moss has mucilaginous consistency (which acts as a demulcent in the body) it is great for internal digestive tract health.
- Mental Support: Sea moss is full of potassium and as such, it is a natural mental/emotional support aid. High potassium foods are known to be helpful for moodiness, depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia. Additionally, they are an excellent source of B vitamins, which are known to help the reduction of stress by supporting the nervous system.
A word of Caution:
Seaweeds contain naturally occurring high levels of iodine. Our bodies need iodine to make thyroid hormones (which helps control metabolism, among other things). As with most things, too much of anything is not good. If you get too much iodine it can cause thyroid gland inflammation and even cancer. Iodine overdose can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, and even coma. Bottom line, if you begin taking sea moss, you should not be taking an additional iodine supplement. Just be aware of your iodine intake.
I want to take just a second and call out the hoopla surrounding carrageenan, a food additive extracted from sea moss. A few years back a report came out about carrageenan (specifically about carrageenan, the food additive extracted from sea moss), and lets just say the report wasn’t a glowing one. The report showed that carrageenan additive caused cancer in rats and could be a human carcinogen. As a result, people assumed that sea moss was bad for them. Slow your roll…carrageenan is an active ingredient in sea moss, true. Consuming carrageenan as part of eating the whole food, sea moss is not the same thing as eating processed foods that contain degraded/undegraded carrageenan additives. In conclusion, I don’t think comparing naturally occurring carrageenan in sea moss is the same as eating processed foods that contain carrageenan additives. ‘Nuff said.
I hope this is something you will look into! I will report back in a couple months with an update! We should always be looking for ways to better our health and as I get these health gems, I will be sure to pass them on to you because at Bucklebury, we believe your best wealth is your health! Until next time, have a great week!!