Sean Anderson has had sinus issues for years. The Miramar local has had a stuffy nose and sneezed uncontrollably. He has bought over-the-counter sinus medicine — but it never worked for 24 hours as promised on the labels.
“I was speaking with my daughter Alina about my sinus problems, and she told me about Irish sea moss,” he says. “She explained how it helped her with her seasonal allergies and helps to boost and maintain the immune system.”
“I have never been into natural remedies, but I might as well give it a try,” he added. “Within hours of taking it, I started breathing clearly again!” he said.
This natural remedy worked for Anderson, but are the health promises made about sea moss really true?
Exploring how sea moss is made, consumed and how users and doctors view it is the only way to understand whether this edible plant offers health benefits.
Sea Moss is a nutrient-packed edible plant that grows on the surface of undersea rock formations.
This spongy-spiny plant is formed from a species of red algae called chondrus crispus.
It grows in many different areas worldwide, such as the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America and some Caribbean islands.
As explained by Smithsonian Magazine, “Harvesting is traditionally done by hand, using a 12-foot rake to pry off the broccoli-like tops of the moss, being sure not to rip out the stems or ‘holdfasts,’ which would prevent the plant from growing back.”
After being harvested, it is then put out dry before being soaked in water for 24 to 48 hours.
Sea moss can be eaten raw after it has been dried and properly rinsed and soaked, but many people prefer it in the form of gummies or gel.
The gel is created by rinsing, soaking, and blending sea moss. It can be added to smoothies, yogurts, and even soups.
It has a natural, earthy taste and the gel can be made at home or purchased from a local or online seller.
For people who prefer to make their own sea moss gel, there are informational videos that break down the process like this one by an influencer on YouTube named Divas Can Cook.
Sea moss is often eaten in gel form because it is easier to consume and can be added to any food without affecting the taste of a dish.
Irish sea moss includes many minerals that the human body is made from. It is a nutrient-dense plant.
Multivitamins have more artificial ingredients than sea moss.
“I started taking sea moss about a year ago and I haven’t brought another multivitamin since then,” said Destiny Canion, a sea moss user. “I like knowing that I am taking something that’s all-natural because my daily multivitamin gave me side effects like fatigue and achy muscles. I work out 3-4 times a week and since I started taking sea moss, I no longer have achy muscles.”
Weight loss is something that is often advertised as a benefit of taking sea moss and one user takes it for that specific reason, “I have been taking sea moss for about four years now and it has helped me lose weight and has helped my gut health improve,” said Sophia Ramos, a loyal sea-moss user.
“Since sea moss helps to curb my appetite, I have definitely seen a difference along with a balanced diet and regular exercise,” Ramos added. “I was also able to stop taking probiotics because it has helped me balance my gut health without having to take chalky supplements every day.”
This edible plant has many health benefits that many of its users can attest to.
Sea moss is seen as a natural alternative to multivitamins and has many benefits, but from a medical standpoint, is it safe?
According to Healthline, “While it’s a good source of iodine, the iodine content of sea moss and other seaweeds is highly variable,” said Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD. “This can put consumers at risk of overconsumption of iodine… Still, the risk of toxicity appears to be below. One study examined the levels of 20 heavy metals in… the waters around Europe and Asia. The researchers found that the amounts of heavy metals did not pose serious health risks.”
Iodine is an active ingredient in sea moss and can be taken in moderation.
Most sea moss purchased in a gel or gummy form is diluted while being made, which means the iodine consumption is not as potent.
Dosage is an important factor in avoiding overconsumption.
It is recommended that 1-2 tablespoons be taken per day in gel form. The dosage varies based on the type of sea moss taken.
Knowing the ingredients of sea moss is important because some companies add alkaline water or pureed fruits to flavor the edible plant.
Researching sea moss is what can help someone decide if it is for them or not, “Many of my patients come in for checkups and ask me my take on sea moss,” said Doctor Lisa Johnson, MD. “For anyone taking sea moss, I just recommend that they ensure that they know the ingredients and monitor how it affects them since it isn’t FDA approved. I still recommend to my patients that they stop taking it at the first sign of any side effects. What works for one person may not work for someone else, which is why I tell anyone taking it to proceed with caution.”
Sea moss is still being researched and studied to become FDA approved.
The edible plant continues to be sought after because of its health benefits and versatile uses.