“She’d pick her bag of carrageen, or perries through the surf”
Irish moss, isn’t really a moss at all, but actually a seaweed, or sea vegetable as they are becoming more commonly known.
Although a small, red algae it has a dramatic colour range from yellow-green through to dark red and purple. It is a relatively small marine plant among the seaweed populations of our oceans, reaching up to a little over 20cm in length, and grows in the cold waters off the rocky Atlantic coastlines of Ireland, Europe and North America.
It is also known as
- Chondrus Crispus : its scientific classification
- Carrageen : believed to have originated from the Gaelic “carraigín”, meaning little rock.
- Carrageen Moss
In Ireland it is an important ingredient in our traditions and folklore and it has been used as “a miracle” medical cure for thousands of years, including as a skin treatment as it is thought to be good for dry skin and problem skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. Irish Moss is increasing in popularity worldwide as a valued ingredient in lotions and moisturisers owing to its richness in emollient properties which soothe and soften skin, and it is currently one of the most widely used seaweeds throughout the world.
People traditionally carried Irish Moss as a lucky charm or hid it under floor coverings to bring luck into the home.
Why It’s So Good
Like other seaweeds , Irish Moss seaweed doesn’t have a root system so takes its nutrients directly from the ocean, using its ability to absorb and concentrate the trace minerals contained in the ocean environment in which it thrives.
This renders Irish Moss a powerhouse of health enhancing properties and a source of nutrients that are up to ten times more potent than any land plant. Irish Moss seaweed has a 15% mineral and 10% protein content.
No terrestrial plant even remotely approaches seaweed as a source of metabolically required minerals and scientists worldwide are continuing to study the beneficial uses for seaweed.
Irish Moss contains :
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Irish Moss is an excellent source of life-enhancing minerals and contains a very impressive list of 15 of the 18 elements of which our human bodies are made, including:
- sulfur compounds and a number of amino-acids such as taurine.
Irish Moss contains powerful antioxidants.
Antioxidants help to defend cells against damage from free radicals and toxins in the body and by blocking the effects of these harmful substances, the body is able to produce healthy skin cells. Many of the uncomfortable effects on a person with problem skin comes from the flaking, dry skin, irritation and itch.
Irish Moss is rich in sulfated polysaccharide compounds which have been scientifically proven to have anti-viral properties and inhibit the effect of viruses on the skin which cause cold sores.
In addition, polysaccharides also have anti-inflammatory and emollient properties.
Other Reasons to Love Irish Moss
- According to www.seaweed.ie, the use of Irish Moss to treat respiratory orders was first recorded in Ireland in 1810.
- Irish Moss is a demulcent and has a soothing effect on virtually irritated and inflamed mucous membranes throughout the body, and helps many respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It is particularly effective for pulmonary (lung) complaints and was used to treat tuberculosis.
- It is an expectorant, and relieves dry, coughs, alleviating catarrh (inflammation) of the nasal passages and sore throats.
Colds and Flu
- Irish Moss has long been recognized for its ability to cure and abate the symptoms of colds and flu. Irish Moss contains potassium chloride, this chemical helps to dissolve catharrs, which is responsible for congestion associated with chesty coughs, therefore, Irish Moss provides a healthy natural alternative to man-made, over the counter pharmaceutical cough and flu remedies.
- Irish Moss provides relief for digestive problems, including indigestion and ulcers.
- It helps reduce symptoms related to gastritis, peptic ulcer, dyspepsia, nausea and is also used to prevent vomiting
- Irish Moss is a wonderful tonic for maintaining youthful and clear skin and promoting a healthy glow. Since it contains vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K which nourish the skin, it has been used to treat osoriasis, eczema, acne, rosacea, itch,dry and chapped skin, rashes, dermatitis,sunburn, insect stings and cold sores.
- It is a wonderful emollient owing to its high contect of polysaccharides that softes and soothes the skin. It is used to prevent premature aging when used topically for smoothing wrinkles on the skin, bags or dark circles under the eyes and it promotes a bright, healthy glow.
- Irish Moss has an amazingly high iodine content and is used for thyroid health. It is said to relieve low metabolism, fatigue, sallow skin and stringy hair resulting from thyroid malfunction. The escalated metabolic rate caused by improved thyroid function helps to increase energy and burn fat and may be helpful in regulating weight.
- Irish Moss is thought to help reduce the appetite by virtue of its ability to absorb moisture, increasing its volume and filling the intestinal tract with a mucilaginous, bulking-type material, increasing the feeling of “fullness” and also aiding in the elimination process of waste through the gastrointestinal tract.
- Irish Moss is an effective herbal laxative and helps keep the colon and bowel system regular.
Irish Moss is being tested for its effectiveness as a microbicide: a substance that can reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Studies have shown Irish Moss to be a potent invitro inhibitor of the herpes simplex virus, human cytomegalovirus, vesicular stomatitis, and Sinbis virus and clinical trials are also being conducted on Irish Moss as a preventative in the sexual transmission of HIV.
Did You Know?
Sphagnum moss (or peat moss) grown in the peatlands of Ireland also has important healing properties. When dried to a powder then mixed with whey, it was used in ancient Ireland to treat inflammation. It was gathered by the Irish to treat their wounded after the Battle of Clontarf. The tradition continued during WW1 when moss was collected from Irish peat bogs and converted into dressings for wounded soldiers at the front in the place of cotton wool which was in short supply.
These dressings from Ireland were used as far afield as Italy, France, Egypt, India and Palestine.