April 8th, 2014Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus)
-Tara Pierce H
Irish Moss is not actually a moss but a seaweed, strongly alkaline and rich in iodine, calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. It is a highly nutritious plant which feeds the bones, brain, liver, flesh and lymphatic system. It contains a large amount of mucilage and sulfur compounds making it a great aid in the treatment of chronic bronchial and intestinal problems. It is soothing in cases of arthritis, irritation of the bladder and kidneys, as well as chronic diarrhea and dysentery. In cases of dropsy it aids in the removal of excess fluid in the tissues and is used for colds as well as relief of dry coughs. Poultices of the moss have been successfully used on abscesses, burns and bruises.
Traditionally it was gathered for both food and medicine. It is still commonly used in cooking and food preparation as thickening and stabilizing agents. You will find it added to dairy products such as ice cream, yogurt and pudding as well as nut and rice milks and as a flavoring agent and clarifier in the brewing of beer. The herb is used as a suspension agent in toothpastes and is used commercially in hand lotions and various creams.
Although carrageenans (molecules extracted from the moss) were introduced on an industrial scale in the 1930’s, they were first used in China around 600 B.C. and in Ireland around 400 A.D. Known in Ireland as Carrageen Moss, it is commonly boiled in milk and strained, before sugar and other flavorings such as vanilla, cinnamon, brandy, or whisky are added. The end-product is a kind of jelly similar to pannacotta, tapioca, or blancmange.
Dr. Christopher included Irish moss in the Thyroid Maintenance Formula due to the organic iodine which is an excellent part of nourishing the thyroid gland. Together with kelp, watercress, mullein, parsley, nettle, marshmallow and sheep sorrel, this combination helps to support a healthy metabolism. Used as a tonic this formula will ease fatigue, muscle weakness, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and irregular menstrual periods.
Tara Pierce is a Certified Herbalist and Master Herbalist Student at The School of Natural Healing.