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Thursday, November 17, 2011

IRISH MOSS (CARRAGEEN) - HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES


IRISH MOSS, CARRAGEEN, CHONDRUS CRISPUS
In fact Irish moss isn’t a moss but a seaweed, like laverbread. It gets its name from a place Carrageen in south east Ireland, and in Irish Gaelic its name is carraigin which means “moss of the rock”- so it became Irish moss. Like other algae it is full of nutrients and has been eaten in Ireland since at least 400 AD. It helped the Irish in times of famine and was discovered by Irish immigrants on the coast of Canada, so it has a long history of use on both sides of the Atlantic. It grows on rocks as far south as Portugal in Europe and is used extensively in the food industry.
  However it is also a herbal remedy for coughs, colds and bronchial complaints as a tisane. The same tisane can be used for skin complaints as it is an anti-inflammatory. It has demulcent and emollient properties and soothes irritated skin, so is useful for complaints such as eczema. A preparation of the seaweed as a gel can help to prevent STDs and is a microbicide in vitro against the herpes simplex virus and others.
  Like other algae, Irish Moss is full of health-giving nutrients and is a good source of iodine, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and other minerals as well as containing some B-complex vitamins and vitamin A.
  There have been some concerns regarding the use of carrageen, but it is Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, at least the kind used in the food industry has this rating. It is used like agar agar (another algae) as a vegetarian thickening and gelling agent in ice cream yoghurt, jellies, chocolate products and dairy products as well as in processed meats as a fat substitute.
  Research is still ongoing into the properties of this alga which is eaten traditionally by the Irish with potatoes or cabbage.

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