Irish Sea Moss: Benefits and Side Effects

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Colourbox – Johny Kristensen

Irish sea moss is said to benefit our health in a number of ways. The red algae that originates in northern Europe has recently gained international popularity as a superfood. We’ll tell you all you need to know about sea moss benefits and side effects.

Irish moss is also known as sea moss, carrageen moss, or by its latin name, chondrus crispus. This red algae can be found all along the northern European coast and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. 

In recent times, the benefits of Irish sea moss have become more widely known and have caused this plant to gain worldwide popularity as a superfood. The algae is said to have the following benefits:

  • Encourages cell growth
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Nourishes and protects skin
  • Provides thyroid support
  • Supports mental health
  • Promotes digestion
  • Strengthens the immune system

You can buy Irish sea moss online as pills, powder, or drops. In powder form, it is especially good for adding to puddings and similar foods, because of its gelling properties. 

Irish Sea Moss Benefits and Side Effects: What Does Science Say?

Unfortunately, science has neither confirmed nor denied that Irish sea moss benefits exist outside of society’s collective imagination.  Therefore, it is also difficult to know how to use sea moss properly. Very little research exists that tells us anything about:

  • Possible side effects
  • Proper dosage
  • Interactions with medications
  • Contraindications (meaning, cases in which Irish moss could be harmful, like pregnancy or certain illnesses)

Some websites warn that Irish sea moss has side effects like blood-thinning properties and should not be used by people with a bleeding disorder. Its high iodine content is also said to make it unsuitable for people with thyroid ailments. If that applies to you or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a doctor before using Irish moss.

According to the Journal of Applied Phycology, there is substantial evidence for the health benefits of algae. But it is difficult to quantify these benefits due to the difficulty of determining the bioavailability of the many nutrients that algae contains.

But although we may not know exactly how much our bodies are able to benefit from Irish sea moss’s nutrients, we do know its chemical makeup. In terms of nutritional value, Irish sea moss includes:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin B2
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

Carrageenan: Here’s What You Should Know 

irish sea moss benefits
Irish sea moss may have many benefits – but also side effects. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – PixelAnarchy)

When examining the side effects and benefits of Irish sea moss, it’s important to mention carrageenins. Carrageenins are a family of polysaccharides which can be extracted from red edible seaweeds. They serve as a gelling, thickening, and stabilizing agent. Carrageenan is often used as a vegan alternative to gelatin, but can also be found in milk products, sauces and even things like shampoo and toothpaste. 

The so-called “carrageenan controversy” which has erupted in recent years has caused many people to feel unsure about whether eating products with this substance is healthy, and science itself can’t seem to decide. Some scientists have shown that carrageenan is highly inflammatory and toxic to the digestive tract, while other scientists have argued that this research is invalid. Here’s a few things that we do know:

  • Some people have allergic reactions to carrageenan
  • Carrageenan affects the absorption of some nutrients
  • Carrageenan has been shown in animal studies to affect immune cells, but the results are not easily transferred to humans.

Important: Only a specific composition of carrageenans is permitted for food. In Irish Moss, carrageenans are not present in isolation, but together with other substances, and may therefore have a different effect.

Irish Sea Moss Benefits: Should You Use It?

how to use sea moss
In most cases, if you eat a healthy diet, you won’t need to take any nutritional supplements. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – StockSnap)

Because the side effects and benefits of Irish sea moss are not well researched, we believe it is better to avoid it. But if you do buy Irish moss, make sure that the iodine content and a recommended dosage are indicated on the packaging. 

There are some algae farms in northern Europe, but for the most part, Irish moss is bred for commercial use in the Philippines. In either case, the way from there to the United States is long, which affects the carbon footprint of Irish sea moss. 

According to Harvard Medical School, if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, your body shouldn’t need a nutritional supplement. If you suspect you might have a nutritional deficiency, it’s best to speak with your doctor about it. 

People who follow a vegan diet are often especially interested in algae supplements, because it is often necessary for them to make up for a lack of iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. But it is easy to get these two substances elsewhere:

  • For example, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in large quantities in linseeds, walnuts, and their respective oils. 
  • To get enough iodine into your diet, switch to iodized salt. 

This article was translated from German to English by Christie Sacco. You can read the original here: Irish Moss: Das steckt hinter dem Superfood Seemoos

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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