Before becoming a famous superfood, sea moss was used as folk medicine in places like Ireland, Scotland, Jamaica and all across the Caribbean for many generations. In these cultures, it was known as a natural remedy to enhance the immune system and overall wellness, soothe the stomach and promote fertility.
But now that sea moss has exploded onto the nutritional scene, so to speak, it's popping up all over the place in dried, powdered and gel form as well as in skincare products like lotions and face masks.
So, what does this dietary darling have going for it and could you benefit from adding it to your meals and beauty regime? Let's break down the benefits of sea moss and find out.
What Is Sea Moss?
Sea moss — also known as Chondrus crispus, Irish Moss or Irish Sea Moss — is an edible type of algae or seaweed that grows in tidepools and along rocky coasts, mostly between North America and Europe. It comes in a range of colors, including red, green, yellow, purple, brown and black.
A few of the important nutrients and minerals that this powerhouse contains are:
- Vitamin B2, B9 and B12
- Vitamin C
Sea moss is also high in fiber, amino acids, antioxidants and has antibacterial properties.
Benefits of Sea Moss
So what can sea moss do for you specifically? While there's a lot of anecdotal evidence and a long tradition as a folk medicine behind it, science hasn't proved all the purported benefits of this sea vegetable yet.
However, there have been studies on the health benefits of other seaweeds. And because sea moss does grow in a similar environment, some of the same properties may also apply to this particular form of algae.
Here a few of the potential advantages:
1. Increased Immunity
Because sea moss is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, nutrients and antiviral plus antimicrobial properties, it could boost your immunity and help you fight off infections.
2. Increased Energy
B vitamins help you unlock the energy stored in foods and are also key in the formation of DNA. Sea moss contains B2 (riboflavin), which breaks down food, and B9 (folate), which helps to build genetic material. Sea moss also contains B12, which combines with folate to form red blood cells.
Add it all up, and you have the perfect combination for higher levels of energy!
3. Improved Digestion
When made into a gel, sea moss has a slimy, gelatinous quality (like soaked chia seeds or aloe) that's very soothing to mucous membranes like the digestive and respiratory tracts.
In animal studies, sea moss was shown to have a prebiotic effect, which means it helps to fight off bad bacteria in the intestines so that healthy bacteria can thrive. And that helps to improve your overall gut health and immunity.
4. Improved Emotional Health and Brain Function
Sea moss is packed with magnesium and potassium, which boost your mood and play a key role in brain function. If you're low on these minerals, you could find yourself feeling irritable.
More studies are needed, but there's even some evidence that sea moss may help in slowing down Parkinson's disease by protecting brain tissue. Now there's some food for thought!
5. Improved Thyroid Function
The thyroid is a vital gland, as it controls your hormones, mood, appetite, metabolism and more.
To function properly, it needs iodine, one of the many minerals found in sea moss. (People on thyroid medication, however, may need to proceed with caution when taking sea moss, a point will discuss later in this article).
6. Healthier Skin and Hair
Because sea moss is rich in sulfur, it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help combat acne and aging skin. When applied as a mask, it has a very soothing quality that some people even use to help with eczema, dermatitis, burns and psoriasis.
Citrulline-arginine, another compound in sea moss, releases amino acids that synthesize collagen, which helps to keep your hair and skin healthy.
Things To Know Before You Try Sea Moss
While more research needs to be conducted, early studies on sea moss and other seaweed types suggest that Irish moss does have health benefits. But just like seaweed, its nutritional properties can vary depending on the season and where it grows. And that makes it difficult to determine exactly what nutrients it contains and in what amounts.
With certain types of thyroid health conditions, for example, too much iodine can be detrimental. So if you fall into this category, it's best to talk to your doctor and proceed with caution before trying sea moss. Though it's rare, even for people with normal thyroid function, too much iodine can result in an enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter.
It's also very important to be on the lookout for allergic reactions with any supplement you take. If you're nauseous or have an itchy throat after consuming sea moss, stop taking it and see a doctor.
If you're using it as a mask or lotion, be aware of irritation, redness or burning, which can also indicate an allergy.
It's also important to keep in mind that even though supplements (superfood or not) bring overall nutritional value to your life, they do not offer a 'cure-all' for your health and beauty needs. If you want to see results, you will need to be consistent about taking sea moss.
That being said, don't overdo it! 1 to 2 tablespoons per day is usually the suggested serving.
A Word About Carrageen
Sea moss is high in carrageen, which is what gives it that gelatinous quality. Used as a thickening agent in many commercial foods, this ingredient has gotten a bad rap in recent years for intestinal inflammation, among other things.
However, it's important to keep in mind that carrageen is a highly refined extract of sea moss and not a whole food. In other words, they're not the same. Saying that they are the same substance is akin to saying that high fructose corn syrup is the same as organic corn.
Unlike chemically processed carrageen, sea moss is chock full of vitamins and minerals and is considered safe to eat.
Forms of Sea Moss
Sea moss is sold in several ways, including powders, gels and its raw and dried form. Many people prefer to make their own gel from the dried variety because it doesn't really have a taste. It can then be added to things like smoothies, juices, yogurt, soups, etc.
We'll cover how to make your own sea moss gel down below, but first, let's talk about the organic and wild varieties.
Organic vs. Wild Sea Moss
In many cases, health enthusiasts may think that anything organic is automatically better. This may not be the case with sea moss. In fact, so-called organic sea moss is usually grown in artificial salt pools and doesn't have the same nutritional content as sea moss farmed in the wild.
Furthermore, organic sea moss most often contains preservatives and can have a saltier taste than wild sea moss because of the pools it's grown in.
If you're concerned about things such as heavy metals or other toxins of a wild, ocean-farmed variety, be sure to buy a quality product that's been third-party tested for impurities. Look for labels with United States Pharmacopeia (USP), National Science Foundation (NSF), UL Empowering Trust (UL) or Consumer Lab stamps. That way, you'll know that the product is safe and that the label matches the content.
How to Make Your Own Sea Moss Gel
Now that you know all about the benefits of sea moss, here's how to make your gel:
- Open your package of dried sea moss and rinse it with filtered or spring water.
- Next, place it in a glass bowl and fill it with water. Let the sea moss soak for between 4 and 8 hours.
The sea moss should about double in size when it's ready and will also lose some of its coloring.
- Drain all the water from the bowl and place the sea moss in a blender with fresh filtered or spring water.
- Blend until completely smooth.
- Pour the gel into a glass container with a top* and store it in the refrigerator until it solidifies.
*Note: some people prefer to use a sprouting lid or cheesecloth instead of a tight-seal lid as they claim it allows the gel to breathe, which helps it to last longer.
- Sea gel will typically last from 2 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. And it can even be frozen, in which case it will last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
How to Use Sea Moss Gel in Your Beauty Regime
Here are some ways to incorporate sea moss into your beauty routine.
Using Sea Moss Gel as a Face Mask
Sea moss gel can be used by itself when you want to pamper your skin or can be combined with other ingredients. To use sea moss gel on its own, simply apply a small amount to your clean face and allow it to dry for about 15 to 20 minutes.
You'll notice that your skin feels tighter, and that's a good thing. After 20 minutes, you can rinse with lukewarm water and apply your favorite moisturizer.
If you have a little more time to pamper yourself, you can also add other beneficial ingredients such as honey, turmeric, spirulina, etc.
Here's an example of a recipe you may want to try:
- ½ teaspoon maca powder
- ½ teaspoon spirulina powder
- ½ turmeric powder
- 1 tsp bentonite clay powder
- 1 to 2 tbs sea moss gel
First, combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl. You'll want to proceed with a little caution as some of the powders stain. It's best to wear a dark t-shirt or an old one that you don't mind getting dirty.
Next, add your sea moss gel until it's thick enough to stay on your face without dripping.
Now wash your entire face and apply the mask. Let it stay on your face for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Then rinse with lukewarm water and apply any serums or moisturizers you like.
Using Sea Moss Gel as a Hair Mask
Sea moss can also be used to soothe your scalp, condition your strands and give your hair some extra shine. For a simple approach, use your prepared sea moss gel and work 2 to 3 tablespoons through your clean, damp hair.
Want to get creative? Try adding ingredients like argan oil, avocado or essential oils like rosemary.
If you're going to make your own sea moss gel, you may as well use it wherever your can. You can also add it to your shower gel or shampoo to make them extra moisturizing!
Time to Gel
As you can see, there are so many different ways to incorporate sea moss into your diet and beauty routine. Yes, more studies are needed to nail down all the specific benefits. But with a few hundred years of folk medicine behind it (not to mention recent day fans), this super-powered seaweed definitely seems to have something going for it.
If you do decide to give it a try, purchase a quality product that's been third-party tested for impurities and talk to your doctor if you're taking any medications.
Use your sea moss gel consistently, and you could find yourself glowing from the inside out!
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The 6 Benefits of Sea Moss:
- Increased Immunity
- Increased Energy
- Improved Digestion
- Improved Emotional Health and Brain Function
- Improved Thyroid Function
- Healthier Skin and Hair