Irish Moss or Chondrus Crispus as it is scientifically known, is a red algae naturally grown in the Coastlines of Ireland, you will also find it in some parts of Europe and North America in cold Atlantic waters. Irish Moss, not to be confused with sea moss. Sea moss is used and as blanket term for all mosses but mostly relates to Caribbean sea moss. Sea moss sourced from Jamaica or other tropical locales may be called Irish moss but it is not Chondrus; it most likely comes from a related genus known as Gracilaria.
How can I tell the difference between Irish Moss and other sea mosses?
Chondrus Crispus and the other sea mosses have a similar, multi-branched frilly appearance, but Chondrus typically has fanlike, flattened blades whereas the tropical species tend to have slender, finger like projections on their fronds. This can make the paler varieties resemble noodles.
A study recently published in Marine Drugs showed that temperate (cold water) seaweeds contained more total lipids and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids than tropical (warm water) seaweeds. Irish Moss is considered rarer than sea moss as it is seasonal and has a higher nutritional value.
Irish Moss is known to hold 92 minerals including the suggested 16 essential minerals. Our body is compromised of 102 minerals, so Irish Moss is closely related to our body composition and can benefit us nutritionally.
Irish moss has been famous since at least the 1800’s, when people turned to it for food during the Irish famine. Irish immigrants brought their Irish moss tradition to Jamaica, where it remains popular today as an ingredient in drinks and tonics. Today it is used to aid respiratory ailments such as, persistent coughs, bronchitis, smokers cough and the flu. It’s also an expectorant, and there’s evidence it even has anti-viral and antibacterial properties.
Irish moss is often recommended for aid in treating intestinal problems such as ulcers, constipation, and diarrhoea. Their high mineral and fibre content, along with bioactive polysaccharides unique to seaweed, are said to make sea moss an effective pre-biotic to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
It is suggested that it can help improve and increase breast milk supply in nursing mothers.