Your whole food, plant-based life.

Irish Moss Health Concerns

Go figure, I finally jump onto the Irish Moss train, which has been touted as a super food in the raw food community for years, only to wake up to a weekly email in my in-box from Dr. Andrew Weil warning about the dangers of carrageenan. What does this have to do with Irish Moss? Carrageenan is extracted from Irish Moss.

Alarmed, I started digging and emailing. I even went to the woman who is considered to be the one of the top experts in carrageenan research, Dr. Joanne Tobacman of the University of Illinois. Dr. Tobacman has been studying the effects of carrageenan for over a decade.

It seems that carrageenan can cause inflammation (one of our greatest enemies) and intestinal distress. Even more alarming, when carrageenan is extracted from the irish moss, this form of carrageenan has been associated with human cancers.

But wait, haven’t we all read about the wonderful health benefits of Irish Moss? Isn’t it supposed to be great for us? I wondered if there was a difference between consuming Irish Moss in it’s whole form vs an extraction, the carrageenan.

I asked Dr. Tobacman if we needed to be concerned with consuming Irish Moss in it’s whole form. While the extraction is the most dangerous form (and widely found in many organic and non-organic products for sale), Dr. Tobacman stated, “When we tested Irish moss, we found that it also caused inflammation, similar to the effect of the derived carrageenan. The degree of inflammation was less, probably due to reduced availability of the carrageenan, due to the other ingredients in the seaweed. The answer to your question is yes, I think that Irish moss should be avoided, due to the likelihood that the carrageenan in the Irish moss will lead to inflammation.”

So there you have it. Armed with that information, you will not see Irish Moss used in any more recipes designated for consumption on this website. I am also redoing the Lemon Raspberry Souffle Tart that I published last week, replacing Irish Moss on the ingredient list.

Because of the prevalence of carrageenan in so many of the products that we use, including many organic varieties,  I am including some links that I think are important for you to visit to educate yourselves on this dangerous food additive.

Dr. Tobacman’s studies can be viewed here: Studies on Carrageenan (these are published medical studies)

Another excellent, easier to read article by Rodal Press: Carrageenan, The Natural Ingredient that is Wrecking Your Gut

From the Cornucopia Institute: Carrageenan: Linked to Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Colon Cancer  This article also discusses the attempts to get carrageenan removed from organic foods and the push-back the ensued.

After researching, reading and communicating with Dr. Tobacman, I would suggest that you remove Irish Moss from your raw food pantry and also make sure you look for carrageenan on your food labels and avoid it. Cornucopia has compiled a list of food producers that use carrageenan and those who don’t. You can find that list here: Shopping Guide to Avoid Carrageenan.

*If you have Irish Moss on hand, don’t throw it away. Irish Moss paste makes a wonderful face mask! I am working on a recipe for you this afternoon!




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  1. Mike wrote on October 13, 2015

    My carrageenan story. About 8 years ago I started having a lot of intestinal cramps and excess gas. It mostly occurred after eating dairy. I thought I was lactose intolerant and I started taking lactose pills. They didn’t help. I always enjoyed a bowl of rich quick cook oatmeal for breakfast. I’d use skim milk instead of water and prepare it by heating it to a boil in the microwave. I ate this 5 or 6 days a week. 6 years ago I got sick and was diagnosed with a diverticulitis attack. A subsequent colonoscopy revealed I had diverticulosis pockets in my colon. Diverticulosis is permanent or can be removed by cutting out a section of the colon. I decided to not have surgery. Diverticulitis is an attack from the inflamation of the diverticulosis pockets. Antibiotics cleared up the diverticulitis. I has a second diverticulitis attack a few months later. I decided to start researching the ingredients in the food I ate. The skim milk I used said it was “skim that taste like 1%” and I found the ingredient carrageenan in it. I researched and read all the carrageenan links and decided to avoid it to see it it helped. My rolling intestines and excess gas stopped. But, I didn’t know carrageenan was used in so many food products. I had another diverticulitis attack and found out the beer I drank used carrageenan / Irish Moss in the fining process. They claim it settles out and isn’t in the finished product, but they don’t test for it. It’s also boiled during the fining process. Since then, I’ve been able to trace my recurring rolling intestines and excess gas to eating something with carrageenan in it the day before. I’ve had 4 diverticulitis attacks total and was able to trace long term consumption of something that contained carrageenen in it before each attack. If I avoid carrageenan, I don’t have any intestinal issues. I don’t know if boiling it in my oatmeal all those years caused my issue but I certainly know that consuming it now will cause problems for me.

    Intestinal problems are very frequent in today’s society. Just watch the TV ads for all the “heartburn” and “gas” drugs and OTC products. carrageenan is used in many products now also, like chocolate milk, buttermilk, frozen dinners, pre-packaged meats, especially chicken and turkey, ice cream, “light” sour creams, condensed milk, beer fining, protein powders, soy milk, diet drinks, drinks for the aging population and many more items. I’ve read that many of the liquid products use carrageenan simply so they won’t have to put “shake before opening” on their packages any more.

    I’ve avoided carrageenan for years now and haven’t had any intestinal issues. I’ve basically stopped shopping the interior of the grocery store because it contains so many carrageenan products. I still have to be careful shopping the perimeter because of the meats and dairy that contain it. I can’t speak for the effect of carrageenan on anyone else, but for me it’s poison.

  2. Ghislaine wrote on September 29, 2015

    all my life growing up sea moss is a life saver and now you saying its detrimental. . Something is not complete . . sorry

    • Susan wrote on September 29, 2015

      Sigh. I am not saying it, I am just reporting on important information that has come to light. You are free to do as you wish.

  3. Susan wrote on August 14, 2015

    Please note the above paragraph: I asked Dr. Tobacman if we needed to be concerned with consuming Irish Moss in it’s whole form. While the extraction is the most dangerous form (and widely found in many organic and non-organic products for sale), Dr. Tobacman stated, “When we tested Irish moss, we found that it also caused inflammation, similar to the effect of the derived carrageenan. The degree of inflammation was less, probably due to reduced availability of the carrageenan, due to the other ingredients in the seaweed. The answer to your question is yes, I think that Irish moss should be avoided, due to the likelihood that the carrageenan in the Irish moss will lead to inflammation.”

    The whole form of irish moss, not just the extracted carrageenen, also causes inflammation.

  4. Judah wrote on August 13, 2015

    As far as I know, Jamaicans have been using Irish moss forever and I’m 30+ years old. It’s a staple food on the island. The extracted carrageenan is processed into a chemical. How hard is that to understand? When it’s a part of the Irish moss it is not harmful, it becomes harmful once PROCESSEED. furthermore, extracting something from a plant or seed weed etc. breaks down its natural composition so at that point it is no longer natural. If you extract your kidneys your body no longer functions properly. Scientists can be stupid some times, as far as I’m concerned, I would call carrageenan a GMO

    • Jendayi wrote on November 6, 2015

      I will proceed to consume Irish Moss. I’m from the Caribbean and a lot of things that was once touted as bad here in America by the health care industry is now being revealed to be great, example, coconut oil. And my mom & I always laugh at when they say eat only a tiny amount of sweet fruits, when in the islands we ate 10 or more mangoes from our trees and guavas etc. We didn’t suffer any ill effects, and i don’t ever remember my mom going to doctors. Now that she lives here in America, she ends up with diabetes by following the America diet. So my philosophy is, if nature gives consent for me to eat it, i will. It is when we begin to take or extract things out of its whole foundation, then we are disobeying natural laws, hence sickness. Thanks for sharing what these medical folks said, but i will take their counsel with a grain of salt. Eat natural, exercise, meditate, walk in nature as much as possible, and live a purpose fill life will keep us healthy. Peace.

  5. Kwame wrote on July 16, 2015

    Irish Moss is very good for you unlike some of the other sea moss’s, Looking at it historically and scientifically you can see this to be the case, research in more depth and you will find this out,,, find out what the scientist who is doing the work is studying from and there agendas,,, there is a lot of conflicting research and evidence on all natural foods,,,, ask your self is it natural/hybrid, alkaline/acid or electrical consistent with the human body or non-electrical.
    I do know it has been used successfully to cure and fight of diseases that attack your immune system and cancers etc ,,,,, so Im very sceptical it can give you cancer unless it has been contaminated with another pollutant.
    I hope just because you have read about the negative affects of carrageen published by scientists your not confusing it with real Irish Moss, synthetic and hybrid variations react with your body differently,,, every chemical and mineral in the wrong dosses and built up in the wrong places will be harmful to you ,, you have to look at it wholistically and not in individual components to see how it affects our structure , how it is administered also affects its affects. Bissi (made from kola nut) is poison but when taken in the right way and dosses will heal you if you are suffering from being poisoned. Miss information is out there to cause confusion and stop people knowing how to cure themselves from sickness and eating to live. I know you published this with the best intention but I would say the information you are feeding people isn’t correct when it comes to Irish Moss, I plead with you to study this subject further and source your information from more independent sources who have no agenda when doing there research,,, you can research it yourself and your answers might be different from the ones you have read.
    JAH Guidance

  6. Marian wrote on June 15, 2015

    where to buy it !!!?
    for Europe,
    i want fresh irish moss, best wild or organic, post links, thx!

    • Susan wrote on June 17, 2015

      Hi, Marian, I don’t know where to buy it in Europe. But I don’t recommend using it so… Cheers!

  7. Wolfie wrote on May 30, 2015

    Though raw is all good, the reality is some vegetables/herbs need to be cooked prior to eating for the body to digest them. I believe Irish Moss is the same, along with broccoli, spinach etc otherwise there will be inflammation of the body.

  8. Faroukar wrote on April 24, 2015

    I am so freaking lost. I get my sea moss from the Caribbean store where I live at. I wash it, I boil it, I strain it, I put it in the refrigerator it becomes in gel form. Then I add almond milk by Almond Breeze and carrageenan is in there. But I can use the 2% milk when I make it. My family is from the Islands and because we boil it does that make it processed. I am confused when is it process. Is the way I am using it bad for you. I don’t put it in any desserts. I am all googled out. Some say use it some say don’t use it. I am confused. I have ultra colitis and they said it’s good for that. Please help.

  9. Raffaela wrote on April 15, 2015

    Do you have any information on the topical use of Irishmoss?
    Is there a research supporting that it should not be used topically?
    Does the topical use of it also cause inflammation?

    Thanks for an informative article

  10. mike smith wrote on April 5, 2015

    hello! i don’t think the information is correct do they have medical results based on what they are saying?

    Seaweed gelatin from Irish Moss (red algae): agar and carrageenan

    it is a Pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. For pain and inflammation. Good for headaches.
    Increases immune function, and increases production of RBC. Good for anemia and leukemia.
    Increases stem cell production. Repairs tissue and organ damage. Recommended for brain damage and spinal cord damage. And also good for bone and joint damage.
    Seaweed gelatin may also improve vision.

    Seaweed gelatin (agar) increases growth of stem cells. Increases stem cell production. And regenerates tissue and organs. Useful in the treatment of all diseases and injuries, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease. Repairs heart damage, and repairs cancer damage. it Helps to reduce cancer, and restore health.

    it is a bit odd that they are saying it is inflamatory

    • Susan wrote on April 7, 2015

      Hi, Mike, Yes…all of the studies are linked to in the article.


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