Sea moss (also known as Irish Moss, or Chondrus Crispus) has been regarded as a 'superfood' laden with 92 out of the 102 elements necessary in a balanced diet. While sea moss has been used as an ingredient since the 1800s in both Irish and Jamaican traditions, it wasn't until fairly recently when the works of the natural healer, Dr. Sebi, were popularized, and sea moss got the attention and recognition that it deserved in the modern world.
What is Sea Moss?
In simple terms, Sea Moss is a type of red algae native to the Atlantic Coast of the British Isles, North America, as well as in parts of Europe. According to Encyclopedia Botanica, the popular superfood is rich in essential nutrients, such as; amino acids, vitamins B12, B1 and B2, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and iodine.
With regards to the latter most, iodine, Sea Moss, is considered a primary source for the element responsible for regulating thyroid functioning. A regularly functioning thyroid gland translates to popular growth and metabolism. Needless to say, Sea Moss is considered essential for regular functioning.
Ways to Eat Sea Moss:
With celebrity-backing, it's easier now more than ever to get your hands on a pack or container of Sea Moss. The algae are sold in either raw form or as a gel. Raw Sea Moss has to be washed thoroughly, and specific care instructions are given for prepping raw Sea Moss (more on this later).
It is important to remember that Sea Moss has no flavor - you might think it has one, but that's just the thick consistency and not any actual flavor. Attributing to its consistency, Sea Moss is seen as a plant-based (vegan or vegetarian) substitute to gelatin-based products.
Here are some of the forms Sea Moss can be ingested in:
- Shakes and juices
- Ice Cream
Prepping Raw Sea Moss:
- With clean hands, remove the Sea Moss from its packaging. Even if the product didn't come in any packaging, it is important to thoroughly clean the plant under running water or by soaking it. This is to remove any debris, dirt, or particles and avoid contaminating your digestive system or irritating your skin - thereby rendering the superfood useless.
- After thoroughly cleaning the Sea Moss (twice if need be), soak the plant in a large bowl of water for a day or half.
- After 12 to 24 hours of soaking the Sea Moss, you'll notice that it's expanded a bit underwater. The expansion is indication enough that the algae are ready to be used either as is (raw), in the form of a gel, or any other form.
How to Prepare a Sea Moss Gel:
The following recipe instructs on how to prepare a Sea Moss Gel. The gel can be used either topically or ingested. The total time required to make the gel is 24 hours, with no cooking time, and serves a container's worth (approx. 8 oz).
What you'll need:
- Sea Moss (1 cup)
- Purified water (11/2 - 2 cups)
- Thoroughly clean the Sea Moss as instructed above. Clean the moss twice if necessary to remove any contaminants.
- To prepare a gel, soak the Sea Moss in a bowl of purified water for 24 hours, rinsing out the water every 4-6 hours.
- Once the Sea Moss has expanded (typically after 24 hours), you'll notice its color change from yellow to white and take on a softer texture than before. This is when you drain off the water and rinse the plant clean.
- In a blender, add in the Sea Moss along with one and a half to two cups of purified water. Blend the ingredients until a thick, creamy texture is achieved.
Store in a clean, dry container for up to an hour in the fridge to reach optimal thickening. Afterward, it can be used in smoothies, juices, soups, and much more as a plant-based gelatin substance. Alternatively, it can be used topically to reap its numerous skin benefits.
Sea Moss can be stored for up to two weeks if covered tightly in the refrigerator.
Using Sea Moss in Smoothies:
While Sea Moss has been known and beloved in Irish and Jamaican traditions for centuries at this point, it's only recently been popularized enough for the average person to be familiar with its name and benefits. This is hugely in part to celebrities endorsing the ingredient as a plant-based alternative with more benefits compared to gelatin. The most obvious use for which is in health-boosting smoothies.
Soaked Sea Moss can be used in smoothies between 1-2 teaspoons, whereas the gel form of the plant can be used between 2 teaspoons up to 1/4 cups worth. Other ingredients in popular vegan smoothies incorporating Sea Moss include; sweeteners (Dr. Sebi recommended the use of Bladderwrack), nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut milk, condensed milk, almond milk, and many such plant-based ingredients.
Using Sea Moss Traditionally - Jamaican Country Style Irish Moss Drink:
For over two centuries, the Irish and the Jamaicans have been incorporating Sea Moss in their foods and drinks. Thereby reaping the benefits of the superfood before a celebrity popularized it. They are therefore seen as pioneers of sorts in the use of Sea Moss as an ingredient. The Jamaican Country Irish Moss drink, known popularly s Irish Moss drink, is one of the principal drinks using Sea Moss.
Here's how you make it:
What you'll need:
- Sea Moss (2 ounces)
- Ice cubes (3 large ones)
- Coconut milk (2 cups)
- Gum Arabic (3 pieces)
- Nutmeg (a teaspoon)
- Vanilla extract (2 teaspoons)
- Date sugar (3/4 cup)
- Isinglass (6 strands)
- In a blender, add in the coconut milk, Sea Moss, and ice cubes. Blend well until a homogeneous mixture is achieved.
- In a saucepan, heat a cup and a half or two cups of water over medium flame. Add in the coconut milk along with the blended mixture, the gum arabica, and the isinglass.
- Bring the mixture in the saucepan to a boil and allow it to simmer until all of the ingredients have properly dissolved for about 30 minutes.
- In another saucepan, add in the date sugar, vanilla extract, and nutmeg on low flame. Stir the mixture for 10 minutes before incorporating it into the milk mixture.
- Serve either as an iced drink or a warm beverage.
Using Sea Moss Topically:
Topical instructions are fairly straightforward: use the mixture in its stored gel form either a teaspoon or two a day by massaging it into the skin. It is, however, important to understand that the topical effects of Sea Moss take over a week before there are any visible skin changes.
Where Can You See Changes?
Changes in your body:
- The plant species is a mucilaginous food, something that's sticky. Therefore Sea Moss soothes the mucus membranes in the body and clears your system of excess mucus. According to research, Sea Moss helps in reducing congestion, improves breathing, betters respiratory health during a cold or allergy season, and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Sea Moss acts as a pre-biotic and therefore encourages the growth of 'healthy' bacteria (also referred to as normal flora). The normal flora inside of your body has a mutualistic relationship with your system - you provide it with nutrients, and it increases digestive health.
- When used in smoothies or shakes, Sea Moss can also act as a soluble fiber to fill in your appetite faster, keeping you full and eases constipation.
- Sea Moss holds immune-boosting capacities with nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and so on.
Changes in your skin:
- As an anti-inflammatory agent, Sea Moss reduces puffiness, acne, and signs of aging (wrinkles, fine lines, etc.). Research attributes Sea Moss' topical properties to it being loaded with sulfur. Which, according to experts, is known to lower microbes on the skin and soothe inflammation.
- Topical use of Sea Moss can reduce eczema, psoriasis, and dullness. Loaded with vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, the algae helps in both hydrating skin and promoting healthy cellular functioning.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Sea Moss?
The short answer: Maybe.
If you recall, one of the most beneficial features of Sea Moss was the fact that it's laden with iodine, which is essential for thyroid functioning and, in turn, improves bodily functioning, predominantly growth and metabolism. However, there's such a thing as too much of a good thing.
An intoxication of iodine, although rare, may induce thyroid dysfunction. For example, too much iodine can entice the thyroid gland to produce too much growth hormone (hyperthyroidism) or can severely damage the thyroid gland (Hashimoto's disease).
The Brightside, nevertheless, is the fact that thyroid dysfunction caused by anything other than direct trauma, cancer, etc. are rare. There have only been a handful of cases where thyroid dysfunction was related to iodine overdose - none of which directly implicated Sea Moss.
To conclude, Sea Moss (aka Irish Moss) is a superfood known and beloved by people all across the globe. The sea plant is, in fact, a type of red algae and is laden with 92 out of the 102 elements dietitians recommend are essential for normal functioning.
Sea Moss is a plant-based alternative to gelatin. The algae can be used in a range of products, such as smoothies, soups, juices, and even baked goods! All in all, Sea Moss is backed by dietitians, aestheticians, and medical experts as being a vital source of many important vitamins and nutrients.