The Full Story
About Sea Moss
’Sea Moss vs Irish Moss’? Aren’t they the same thing?” In fact, they are not. Often mistaken as different names for the same plant, Irish Moss and Sea Moss are two different plants that individually offer similar health benefits.
To start, sea moss is a thicker, more stick like seaweed. It goes by scientific names like Eucheuma and Gracilaria and grows in a more tropical climate like the Caribbean, southern Asia, and southern Africa. You can find sea moss in a variety of colors. Most popular are gold and purple, but you can also find rare blue/green varieties.
Both sea moss and Irish moss are red algae, rich in the proteins that form collagen in the body. Collagen is associated with healthy skin, joint, bone, and heart health. Whichever you use, you will have a reliable source of collagen.
Irish Moss, scientifically known as Chondrus crispus, is a seaweed with flat, fan like leaves. It generally has a dark, purple color, but some people bleach in the sun to get a gold variety. Irish Moss grows in colder regions such as Europe, North America, Canada, and Peru.
Chondrus crispus was consumed by the Irish during the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1849. This was a period when food was scarce in Ireland. With millions of people dying from malnourishment-related diseases, the Irish turned to the sea for their food. Thus, birthing the name, “Irish Moss.”
While Sea moss is much more abundant and accessible, Irish Moss is harder to come by. It is quite rare that you’ll find a vendor for real Irish moss. Because they are so often incorrectly exchanged, you could search ‘Irish Moss,’ but you’d get results for sea moss.
Irish Moss also gets a bit of a bad rap for naturally producing carrageenan. Carrageenan is an extract from the Irish Moss plant that is most often used in dairy products, puddings, etc. as a thickening agent.
The carrageenan extract found in food has, in limited studies, been linked to inflammation, bloating, and food allergies. That inflammation can lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Arthritis, and other diseases caused by prolonged inflammation.
However, those studies don’t show a significant percentage of these cases. It’s also important to note, that the industrialized form of carrageenan, is not like the carrageenan naturally found in Irish Moss.
The methods and chemicals used for extraction on an industrial level can cause the carrageenan to become carcinogenic (cancer producing), as well as greatly diminished in nutritional value.
Another similarity between Irish moss and, specifically, purple sea moss is the presence of Anthocyanin. This is also found in other purple veggies: purple cabbage, eggplant, blueberries, and elderberries. Anthocyanin can prevent cancer, boost the immune system, and can improve memory.
To answer the question if it matters which one to take; it doesn't. Despite being two different plants, Irish moss and Sea moss's similar properties are beneficial to all who consume them. Take whichever is available and affordable to you.