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Irish moss, Chondrus crispus, is a seaweed (not a moss) that grows on submerged rocks along the North Atlantic coast lines of North America and Europe. It grows in abundance in southeastern Ireland and is commonly called "moss of the rocks" by the Irish. When fresh, the curly fronds are soft and vary in color: red, dark purple, purplish-brown and greenish-yellow. Irish moss is packed with nutrients, including amino acids, iodine, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, D, E and K. It helped save many Irish people from starvation during the potato famine of the 19th century. Today, this seaweed is used as a gel or thickening agent for food products. It is also used as a tea to treat health problems. Below are Irish moss benefits, as well as precautions and directions for preparing Irish moss tea.
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Irish moss is an effective demulcent, meaning it soothes, protects and relieves irritated and inflamed mucous membranes, as well as other surfaces. When taken internally, it coats the gastrointestinal tract and can help inhibit the formation or release of stomach acid. Drinking Irish moss tea may benefit those with indigestion, gastritis and ulcers. It can also soothe inflammation of the urinary system.
Irish moss acts as an expectorant, meaning it can clear out the lungs by breaking up mucus. It is often used to treat respiratory problems such as the common cold and bronchitis. In addition, it has the potential to strengthen the immune system, fight viruses, boost the body's metabolism, act as an anti-coagulant and protect against atherosclerosis which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
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Because Irish moss has blood-thinning properties, it should be avoided by those with a bleeding disorder or those taking anticoagulant medications.
Because of its high iodine content, it should be avoided by those with thyroid problems.
If you are taking any medications, have a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are giving to a child, consult your health care provider before use.
Do not use Irish moss on a daily basis for more than two weeks at a time. Wait at least two weeks before using again.
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Buying, Preparation and Storing
You can buy Irish moss online, in bulk or as tea bags. Some health food stores may also sell it.
Using dried Irish moss:
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried Irish moss, cover and steep for 10 minutes.
Using Irish moss tea bags:
- Hot - Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tea bag, cover and steep for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Cold - Pour 1 1/4 cups of boiling water over 5 tea bags, cover and steep for 5 minutes. Add the tea, cold water and ice to a 1 quart pitcher.
For Irish moss benefits, drink up to three cups a day as needed.
Store dried Irish moss in a dry cool area for up to one year.
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Herbs 2000: http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_irish_moss.htm
Every Green Herb: http://www.everygreenherb.com/irishMoss.html
Mountain Rose Herbs: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/irish_moss.php
Photo by Kontos / Wikimedia
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