Irish Moss for St Patricks Day
A guest blog by medical herablist Joseph Nolan
In my family, growing up in New York, St. Patrick’s Day was a thing. The milk would mysteriously turn green overnight, the house smelled of soda bread, and we invariably had green mashed potatoes for dinner. Shamrocks, sadly, are not - as far as I know – medicinal, but Irish Moss, aka Carageen, most certainly is.
Carageen is a famous food of Irish country folk, with a history reaching back to the first settlers of the Emerald Isle. It can be gathered from sea shores all over the island and fine quality seaweed is still gathered from the cold clear waters of the open Atlantic on the west coast.
Irish Moss is a wonderful medicinal food, packed with minerals, vitamins, protein, soothing mucilage and vitality-boosting polysaccharides. It sets like gelatine and can be used to thicken soups and stews (and as a commercial ingredient in ice cream to give it that silky texture), as well as making a huge variety of set puddings and desserts. As a food for people recovering from illness or suffering from digestive problems, it can be an almost miraculous solution to inflammation and the nutrients it contains are a boon to tissue repair.
Carrageen's polysaccharides, which come out as the thick, soothing, moisture holding gelatine-like structure, are excellent for soothing stubborn coughs, especially dry ones. And if there has been inflammation – bronchitis or pneumonia - Irish Moss is a perfect medicine.
While everyone can use a nutrient boost, some people need it more than others. Carageen is a traditional and modern remedy for Colitis, soothing the inflamed tissue and providing the nutrients the body needs to repair the damaged gut lining. The plant also helps modulate the immune system, and so digestive problems with an autoimmune component may be helped by Irish Moss too.
The nutrient hit is great for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post-Viral Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and ME, boosting vitality and gently supporting elimination via both the digestive tract and kidneys. This means the body can detoxify itself effectively without stressing the system further.
Other people who can especially benefit from eating Irish Moss include those recovering from accidents or major surgery, when there is a lot of tissue repair going on and possibly a large loss of body fluids containing minerals that will need to be replaced.
If all that wasn’t enough, it tastes delicious too. You can go savoury with the cleansing salty taste of the sea, or sweet with the soft almost creamy texture of the set jelly.
Here is a wonderful recipe for Carageen Pudding - with vanilla and chocolate versions - from beloved Cork fixture, Ballymaloe House. Word has it that honey is also a tasty flavouring for this dish – try using a good strong local honey instead of some, or all, of the sugar. Enjoy!