For millennia humans have prized seaweed as a nutritional food. In fact, sea moss or Irish moss was a superfood before anyone knew what that was. Today, its popularity—and notoriety—has resurged, but why? Can sea moss be a beneficial part of your wellness regimen, and if so, why? Is Irish moss good for you as everyone says?
Even the most ancient superfoods get their trendy moments. For sea moss, it came when Kim Kardashian and a sea moss smoothie graced Instagram.
You can definitely get your Irish moss on via smoothie, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll find sea moss is in facial masks and body lotions, prized for its soothing qualities. You’ll also see it in whole dried form and in capsules and powders, slightly yellowy-green, usually.
Sea moss fans claim that using the plant can boost immunity, calm digestion, improve skin health, soothe respiratory illnesses, and strengthen joints. But could Irish moss really live up to the hype?
In this complete guide to sea moss, we’ll tell you everything you should know about this trendy superfood including how to use Irish moss yourself.
What Is Sea Moss?
Sea moss is an edible North Atlantic seaweed. The edible portions come from the dried thallus of a species called Chondrus crispus found on the rocky Atlantic coasts of the British Isles, the EU, and North America.
Also called carrageen from the Irish “carraigín” for “little rock”, this variety of red algae yields a mucilaginous substance. In fact, this is one of the reasons it is so widely used today.
Many laypeople have used Irish moss to enhance their skin and boost their health, although there is no significant science supporting its benefits. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist, however. One reason the science isn’t there may well be that it just hasn’t been done.
Experts do conclude that various cultures have used sea moss as folk medicine for generations—and that as a plant it has some inherent medicinal advantages. In some places, principally the British Isles and the Caribbean, people still use sea moss to fight off colds and respiratory illnesses by boosting their immune systems.
Today, most don’t just eat Irish moss straight. Instead, they use it to create a gel by boiling the dried or raw sea moss in water—as a thickening agent, the result is a sticky gel. Often in the Caribbean, people also serve Irish moss boiled like tea and mixed with sweetened milk, cold. Of course most modern users consume Irish moss in pill or powdered form.
The Health Benefits of Sea Moss
Okay, let’s break down the health benefits of sea moss in more detail.
Tri-iodothyronine (T3) is a thyroid hormone that occurs naturally in the body. It eventually breaks down into DI-Iodothyronine (DIT), which occurs in brown sea moss in abundance and which doctors use to treat thyroid disorders. Thyroxin (T4), another thyroid hormone, and T3 are the primary iodine compounds in a few seaweeds—including sea moss. For these reasons, Irish moss treats thyroid disorders effectively.
In addition, iodine fuels thyroid hormone production and is highly concentrated in Irish moss. Sea moss is also rich in selenium, another important metabolic factor.
A healthy thyroid function helps improve mood, digestion, and more. It’s not that surprising that iodine-rich Irish moss is so prized for boosting energy levels based on thyroid alone, but that’s not all it does. Sea moss also contains folate (B9) and riboflavin (B2). Both contribute to energy levels overall as they assist the body in forming red blood cells and genetic material, and breaking down carbs, fats, and proteins.
Rich in potassium, sea moss helps the cells of the body function optimally. Adding sea moss and other high-potassium foods into your diet can notably improve mental functioning, particularly for people suffering from ADHD.
High potassium foods are also useful for treating hyperactivity, anxiety disorders, depression, fibromyalgia, and mood swings. Irish moss can also reduce stress and support the nervous system because it is an excellent source of B vitamins.
Sea moss also has a neuroprotective effect against Parkinson’s disease and neurodegeneration, protecting the brain from accumulating too much α-synulein protein. In addition, sea moss contains the phytonutrient algin, which can help our existing detoxifying tissues remove heavy metals from our bodies.
Like aloe, chia seeds, and okra, sea moss is a mucilaginous food. Yes—that means it has a slimy consistency, but that also means it can serve as a healing and soothing agent for mucous membranes anywhere in the body. That includes the membranes in the internal digestive tract.
As a prebiotic, Irish moss increases the colon’s production of helpful short-chain fatty acids, improves overall gut immunity and health, and reduces detrimental gut bacteria specifically.
Sea moss may help prevent or relieve symptoms of flu or colds. It does two things naturally that you’d hope a cough syrup, cold medicine, expectorant, and antibiotic combination might do: fight congestion and phlegm, and boost immunity to infections.
Irish moss is rich in the nutrient potassium chloride, which helps to eliminate catarrhs—phlegm and inflammation in the mucous membranes. By reducing these sources of congestion and acting as a natural antiviral and antimicrobial agent, sea moss may help to battle infections and respiratory illnesses.
For all of these reasons, something with a shot of sea moss such as a smoothie might become your go-to during cold and flu season and when infectious diseases are raging. This kind of Irish moss supplement or treat loads you up with potassium iodide, to help your body open airways and dissolve phlegm. It is also rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin C, and other antimicrobial and antiviral agents that can help you ward off respiratory illnesses:
- Chest coughs
- Sore throat
- Other respiratory illnesses
Sea Moss May Nourish Your Skin
Sea moss, once transformed into sea moss gel, is basically a natural gelatin-like substance filled with minerals and vitamins useful in treating burns, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. It also contains citrulline–arginine, a compound that can improve metabolism and cell growth.
Irish moss can also support softer skin and hair by aiding the body in producing collagen. It does this because citrulline–arginine releases amino acids critical to synthesizing collagen and protein.
Best Sea Moss Products to Try
Part of the issue is what kind of sea moss you prefer. Here we’ve listed a few kinds you can use to either consume orally or mix into topical preparations like sea moss masks. We also included a few recipes below.
For the purists out there, this is about as close as you can get to harvesting sea moss yourself if you’re not in the right place. It’s dried and lightly salted, and it is very close to its natural form. You can boil this in water to create a gel that is mostly tasteless. Use the gel in pudding, shakes, smoothies, or whatever you like as a thickener.
- Crafted in a marine protected area, on a non-GMO sea far
- Prepared in a USDA certified facility
- Vegan, gluten-free, and raw
- Contains Potassium, Calcium, Iodine and Natural Vitamins A, B, D, E & K
- No fishy sea smell
- Can take up to 24 hours to fully dissolve
- When mixed with water, it doesn’t break down as well as other sea moss products
- May create a more gummy, than gel-like texture.
If you really don’t want to deal with all of that process before you get started, skip it. This is still an organic sea moss but in powder form. Scoop it right into your blender, or cream, or whatever you’re making, it doesn’t get too much easier while staying versatile.
- Formulated in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program Guidelines
- A certified Kosher product
- cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) Compliant
- Comes in an easy-to-mix powder
- May clump when blended with hot water
- Has a strong odor that may be off-putting to some users
If you love everything we just said about the powdered option but you want to add the popular bladderwrack advantage to your lineup, this is your product. It combines 92 of the nutrients and minerals that the body needs as well as Burdock Root which adds another 10 percent of minerals to make it a complete body supplement of 102 minerals per bag. Each bag contains 8 ounces of powder.
- A good source of potassium chloride
- Can help with arthritis and joint pain
- It helps to boost the immune system and increase energy.
- Works as a blood purifier and natural diuretic
- More expensive than other products of a similar size
- The added minerals can give the sea moss a bitter taste
Not everyone wants a million ways to use something! If you just want a quick, easy option to get the benefits of sea moss, these capsules are the very easiest way without dealing with the plant or even the powder. This is a fantastic full-spectrum option in a convenient capsule form.
- Creates a natural energy boost
- A quick and easy way to consume sea moss without needing to mix it with another product
- You can avoid the sea moss taste by using a capsule
- If you’re not used to sea moss, the pills can be too concentrated for new users
- 400mg may not be strong enough to feel effects for frequent sea moss users
For the same convenience of capsules but a higher dosage of sea moss plus bladderwrack, this is your best choice. The Bladderwrack capsules are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber and promote healthier digestion and gut health.
- Can benefit thyroid health
- Contains amino acids, Vitamin C, and immune-boosting anti-oxidants
- Made from all-natural, USDA approved sea moss
- One fo the higher doses of sea moss capsules we’ve seen
- As we mentioned above, the pills along might be too strong for someone who is not used to consuming raw sea moss
- Must be taken in pill form, and cannot be mixed with anything
Late in this article, we’ll go more into depth on the benefits of using sea moss as a topical treatment for sensitive skin or inflammation. For a great daily moisturizer that evens and brightens skin tone, this is a great sea moss option—and it even has SPF 15 protection.
- Contains powerful marine complex minerals that promote an even skin tone
- protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays
- Uses 100% vegetarian ingredients and no animal testing
- Is free from parabens and harsh sulfates
- Leaves the skin feeling smooth and hydrated
- Each tube only contains 2oz of liquid
- Contains fragrance which may irritate some sensitive skin
Sea moss has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can provide conform for people who have sensitive skin. The Naturopathica sea moss treatment mast is perfect for people who suffer from inflamed facial skin or pimples. This soothing mask of clay and sea moss is a real treat.
- Provides soothing relief for skin irritation and inflammation
- Works great to eliminate breakouts and acne
- Perfect for sensitive and acne-prone skin, as well as all skin types
- Soothing and luxurious texture and scent
- This product has a high price tag on par with luxury skincare brands
- May cause some irritation if your skin is not used to all-natural products. We recommend patch testing a small amount before using on your whole face.
Where can you buy Sea Moss?
Honestly, the best place to buy sea moss, especially right now, is online, direct from the source. Here we list the top five products we like right now, and where you can find them.
Ways to Add Sea Moss to Your Diet
If you aim to transform sea moss into a gel, first you must prepare it. Wash the seaweed thoroughly, and then allow it to soak it for about one day. Once it has absorbed enough water it is ready for the blender.
Cooking With Sea Moss
For cooking, sea moss is a healthful, natural way to thicken puddings, smoothies, jams, and soups. If you’ve ever cooked with ground flax meal or flax seeds, you may have had a similar experience to using Irish moss gel as a thickener.
How Much Sea Moss to Take Daily
This depends in large part on your goals, your body, and your health.
Sea moss doesn’t have much flavor, but its consistency can be unpleasant. Either way, it’s best to start low and aim to hide the taste. Try using it in:
- Blended soups
- Dairy-free elixirs
- Homemade ice cream
- Homemade nut/seed milk
- Nut cheeses
- One-pot meals and stews
- Raw desserts
- Salad dressings
Sea moss smoothies are especially popular! But we also recommend just subbing it in for gelatin or anytime you need to thicken something. And why not try the traditional Jamaican Irish moss drink?
Remember, sea moss tastes like next to nothing, so you can experiment with this nutritious algae—don’t be afraid to get creative. Your new recipe might be the new, tasty superfood craze.
For other sea moss recipes, “Sea Moss for the Skin.”
How to use Sea Moss Topically
To start reaping the benefits of sea moss on behalf of your skin, make some of this silky lotion.
Sea Moss Lotion recipe
- 2 tablespoons sea moss, powdered
- 2 cups distilled water
- 2/3 cup aloe vera gel
- 2 tablespoons almond oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- several drops essential oil, if desired (optional)
Soak sea moss in distilled water for 30 to 60 minutes. Boil for 30 to 40 minutes in a deep saucepan. Strain off solids to reveal a transparent seaweed jelly.
Combine ½ cup of the seaweed jelly and the aloe vera gel (you should have a little extra Irish moss gel). Allow the mixture to cool.
Blend sea moss/aloe mixture on low speed. Slowly add the almond oil, coconut oil, and olive oil one by one in thin streams until blended. You will end up with a smooth, light lotion. Store it in a clean jar.
FAQs – What Nutrients Are in Sea Moss?
Whole food sea moss is filled with beneficial antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins. Along with foods like salmon rich in omega-3s, blueberries, walnuts, and kale, Irish moss deserves a reputation as a superfood.
So, what does sea moss do for your body?
Sea moss is a well-known naturally occurring iodine source, making it a resource for people suffering from thyroid disease. Iodized salt is the most common source of iodine in most Western diets, making it tougher for people needing to eat less sodium for medical reasons to get enough iodine in their food.
Irish moss is also rich in potassium chloride, which is why it works wonders breaking up mucous and congestion by helping dissolve inflammation and phlegm in the mucous membranes called catarrhs. It also holds anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties important for battling respiratory illnesses.
Sea moss is rich in vitamins A, E, F, and K. It is also a good source of minerals such as potassium and calcium that aid in absorption. You can see, then, why people traditionally prize sea moss for treating dry skin and other skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema. Irish moss moisturizers, creams, masks, and lotions are all popular.
The active constituents of sea moss are as follows. The majority of sea moss—about 55 percent—is a mucilaginous body. Another approximately 40 percent is polysaccharides and albuminoids, with the remaining 5 percent or so composed of mineral matter including calcium, iodine, potassium, magnesium, and sulfur.
Read on for an in-depth look at the health benefits of Irish moss.
What Are the Traditional Health Benefits of Sea Moss?
Remember: this is not medical advice. Refer to our disclaimer above.
What is Sea Moss used for?
There are two basic ways that people use sea moss. One area focuses on beauty and skin and may endorse either or both topical and edible use of Irish moss. The other centers upon immune support and is mostly focused on ingesting sea moss.
Beauty and Skin Support
Creators of commercial lotions and cosmetic products often use sea moss as a skin-softening additive due to its natural skin-soothing properties. As a demulcent, Irish moss assists the skin in acting as a natural barrier to harmful elements and aids the skin in retaining essential lipids and moisture. Some users believe this contributes to a more silky feel and youthful appearance in the skin.
Boost the Immune System
Sea Moss supports the upper respiratory system by soothing the internal mucous membranes. It is therefore often added to nutritional and respiratory support formulas.
What Are the Benefits of Sea Moss?
Well, a lot depends on how you consume it. You can ingest sea moss, which means you can eat it in your food by using sea moss gel as a thickener, swallow it in smoothies or capsules, or brew it in tea. Or, you can use Irish moss topically, meaning you can apply lotion or balm with the sea moss in it to your skin.
The Benefits of Eating Sea Moss
One of the greatest benefits of eating sea moss is that it can soothe your digestive tract. Irish moss supports gut health and digestion as a prebiotic, a kind of dietary fiber that assists healthy bacteria—probiotics—grow in your gut. It’s also a tremendous natural source of soluble fiber, meaning that sea moss dissolves in water to form a gel that helps move stool through the digestive system and keeps you feeling full.
Irish moss may seem gross because of its thick, sticky consistency—a little snotty, to be honest. But in actually is tasteless, and pretty easy to add to many foods, so long as they can stand to get thicker. Sea moss is low in calories, 49 for every 100 grams, so it remains a low-calorie, high-impact source of fiber.
Additional sea moss benefits are that it soothes respiratory illness and boosts the immune system. Many of the same factors that enable it to soothe enflamed GI tissues allow it to calm respiratory tissues. Also, sea moss boasts immune-heightening essential minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. And its prebiotic effects also boost immunity by improving the gut microbiome.
Irish moss is rich in iodine, itself a thyroid super fuel. It is therefore critical in assisting in brain and bone development during pregnancy and childhood and the regulation of metabolism throughout life. Iodine also promotes normal breast tissue development.
Finally, sea moss is rich in important minerals such as folate.
As always, consult a nutritionist before making radical changes to your diet.
The Benefits of Using Sea Moss Topically
Sea moss can help with aging skin and acne because it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can also reduce inflammation and reduce microorganism populations on the skin because it is rich in sulfur.
Minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin K as well as omega-3 fatty acids all promote optimal skin cell function and help hydrate the skin. Topical use allows healthy skin to absorb the minerals and vitamins directly.
Is Sea Moss Bad For You?
These are exciting benefits! But even so, there is not much solid science out there supporting them, even though the fans of this sea vegetable are serious about their position.
Of course, there’s not much research on Irish moss generally, and that is in line with other algae. It’s not that easy to identify the nutritional properties of Irish moss in a definitive way because minerals and vitamins vary by season and location. In addition, it’s difficult to determine how the body metabolizes and absorbs the nutrients in algae.
Nevertheless, as with other folk medicine, superfoods, and natural remedies, time usually tells. Sea moss has been part of a health and wellness routine for longer than it had that name, so it is likely that some users do experience benefits.
Sea Moss and Pregnancy
As with anything else, without guidance from a doctor, you should assume that you should not use sea moss during pregnancy or lactation.
What Are the Side Effects of Sea Moss?
Consult your doctor before using anything new, including sea moss, particularly if you take pharmaceutical drugs or have a medical problem or a health condition.
Too much iodine can inflame the thyroid gland and even cause cancer. Iodine overdose can cause nausea, fever, vomiting, and coma. Do not take an iodine supplement and Irish moss at the same time.
Does Sea Moss Raise Blood Pressure?
It is possible that sea moss could help lower blood pressure. However, there is no support for that in the research yet.
According to scientists in Ireland, more than one kind of common, edible Irish seaweed could help reduce blood pressure. It works because it contains a protein that stops renin, a compound that causes blood pressure to rise.
The seaweed also contains potassium, a mineral that is blood pressure-friendly, and valuable amino acids that can help prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce high blood pressure. It’s not clear that Irish moss will prove to be exactly the same, but it does share some of the same nutrients.
Are There Any Downsides to Sea Moss?
Although some sea moss beauty products are labeled “organic,” it’s not totally clear what that means. The “organic” term applies to foods more than beauty products, although of course farming practices matter. More importantly, it is not clear that there is any substantive difference in how the products perform.
Iodine can help some people with health issues but it can pose a risk for those with autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s. In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland in error, and too much iodine can trigger hypothyroidism.
In rare instances, too much iodine can also cause side effects in people without Hashimoto’s. For example, excessive levels of iodine may cause an enlarged thyroid gland or goiter, thyroid gland inflammation, or even thyroid cancer. Iodine levels that are too high may also cause your stomach, throat, and mouth to burn, along with fever, nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting.
The FDA recommends 150 mcg—that’s micrograms—of iodine daily. On the other hand, among women, in particular, iodine deficiency is on the rise.
Still, use caution when determining how much iodine you’re getting to be safe. The nutrients in sea moss differ based on where it originates, so the amount of iodine per serving may also vary.
Many people choose either the powdered form of Irish moss or the encapsulated version—probably because it’s so much easier and less disgusting than making the gel. Still, in any format, check with your doctor first. Remember that the FDA does not regulate these or any supplements, so it’s definitely important to read the labels to ensure you get a quality product. Buy products third parties have tested for impurities by looking for labels with a Consumer Labs stamp, a National Science Foundation (NSF) label, a UL mark from the UL Empowering Trust, or a USP United State Pharmacopeia stamp.
No matter what anyone else says, stop taking Irish moss and see a doctor if you experience any negative side effects such as nausea or itchy throat, or burning, irritation, redness, or stinging from topical products. These are signs of an allergic reaction and demand immediate action.
What Should You Know Before Trying Sea Moss?
No skin product can meet all of your beauty needs, and no superfood can cure every health challenge. The good news is that sea moss has minimal side effects. That’s actually great news because to really gain the benefits, you have to use it consistently.
Expect to you use your Irish moss products daily or as directed for several weeks to notice the benefits. Stick with it and you should notice a difference if you have the right product and dose.
What Are the 92 Minerals in Sea Moss?
Does sea moss have essential minerals? Most definitely.
It is among the best sources of trace minerals—and vitamins, too. Of the 102 nutrients and minerals that comprise the human body, we need to take in 92. Sea moss contains important minerals such as calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and to a lesser extent, sodium.
Many sea moss products also include B-complex vitamins, silicon, and bladderwrack, which enhances metabolic health. Most Irish moss products contain those 92 minerals of the 102 minerals in the human body.
The History of Sea Moss
People first started using sea moss to treat respiratory illness in Ireland around 1810. Called “carraigín” for “little rock” in Irish, traditional uses were mostly medicinal.
However, from 1846 to 1851 during the Great Hunger, Irish moss remained one of the few sources of nutrients for many in Ireland. For those settled near the coast, sea moss was often a lifeline.
Like some other types of seaweed found along the coast of Ireland, locals harvested sea moss when the water receded from the shore after the spring tides. Traditionally, harvesters raked rocks for the seaweed. They returned over the shallow waters by horseback or boat to sort the harvest and sun-dried it for up to two weeks.
Irish moss also came to the Caribbean and Jamaica in particular, where it is traditionally used sea moss to treat illness. And although some use it on the island to boost male libido, no scientific evidence supports that practice.
In any event, it is clear that people have been successfully using sea moss for a long time. There is a folk medicine tradition that celebrates this superfood and plant’s healing potential.
Is Sea Moss Healthy?
Despite this long cultural history, sea moss has sometimes been maligned in the press. This is mostly due to misunderstanding, actually. Here’s why.
Seaweed can be used to make carrageenan, a thickening agent that is sometimes used in vegan milk and actual dairy products alike. However, in recent years the International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled one form of carrageenan “a possible human carcinogen,” and we already know the ingredient causes inflammation.
However, Irish moss and industrially processed carrageenan are not the same things, although the names can be confusing. The one type of carrageenan that, isolated, can be a problematic ingredient, is one component of many in the whole food that is naturally occurring sea moss.
Consider whether it seems more dangerous to eat high numbers of a vitamin A supplement—or to eat large amounts of spinach and carrots. This is not an exact analogy, but a reasonable comparison.
Traditional Irish diets, especially in coastal communities, often include sea moss. For generations, families in these towns have used sea moss to prevent gastric problems, to treat respiratory illnesses, to maintain thyroid health, and to keep internal tissues and skin healthy.
It seems both inaccurate and unwise to judge a whole food’s healthfulness isolated ingredients, processed components, or in unnaturally high concentrations. Of course, each person is unique. As with anything else, you might find yourself feeling more or less sensitive. But the only studies available that concern the safety of Irish moss are actually related to processed and extracted carrageenan. If you’re not sure, avoid it.
Final Thoughts on Sea Moss
One of nature’s superfoods, sea moss offers an interesting way to make a smoothie that might help you boost your immune system. For generations, sea moss has been part of folk medicine, and its modern fans argue that there’s a great reason for that. Check out these highly recommended Irish moss products if you’d like to find out why.
This information in our Complete Guide to Sea Moss is provided for informational purposes only. It should serve as a general educational reference alone and is not medical advice. In no case should online research replace professional health advice or medical care.
Furthermore, although this content is intended to be as complete as possible, it is not exhaustive. This guide does not provide format recommendations, dosage information, warnings about possible drug interactions, or toxicity levels. Always seek the advice of a qualified health practitioner before implementing any health-related information or changing your health regimen.