Saturday, July 22, 2006

Please accept my sincere apologies for taking so long with this blog entry but I found a treasure trove of interesting stuff about the humble Irish Moss (aka: Carrageen/Carrageenan).

Way-WAY back in the bad ol' days
During the potato famine, of the mid 19th century, this humble seaweed saved hundreds of thousands of Irish from starvation. It's believed that Irish Moss/Carrageen or Carrageenan Moss/Chondrus crispus originated from the Gaelic word Carraigín.Irish Moss grows among the rocks just off the coast of Ireland & the shores of the North Atlantic & varies in colour from reddish-brown to purplish-green.
It's a naturally hydrating topical skin & hair food composed of a variety of nutrients like chlorophyll, carotene, potassium, sodium, calcium, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, sulphur, vitamins & protein.
Because they don't have roots, water & nutrients are transported directly through their cell walls.

In the THICK of IT!
Irish Moss (Carrageen or Rock Moss as it's known in Ireland) belongs to the Red Algae family. It's commercial importance is due to its use as a natural thickening agent & emulsifier in food & personal care products.

Carrageen algae (phycocolloids) form gelatin like suspensions when water is added. Bonds are created between the carrageenan & molecules in the water so when you heat them both, it forms a gel.

Say for instance - you were to use hot coconut milk (instead of water) & add it to dried Carrageen/Irish Moss you'll find that the protein molecules in the Coconut milk will bond with the carrageenan & you'll have a really nice thick Coconut Milk Gel type cream which can be used in cooking as well as in your hair as a final rinse OR daily conditioner OR a setting gel.

By the way - Carrageenan/Irish Moss is used in all of those over priced anti-wrinkle skin creams & hair care products - ask next time you're at the beauty counter for products that contain Carrageenan OR better yet - make it yourself!

Dry as a bone!
To dry Irish Moss you would need to it harvest it by hand, spread it onto a sun drenched open-air drying area & check regularly for debris.

You'll know when it's fully dry as it will take on a natural beige-brown-creamy colour and be really hard-crispy-crunchy. Once dried you can either grind it into small pieces or use as is.
Most major processing companies grind it into powder to make it more versatile to use.


Seaweed like Irish Moss (carrageenan) has been dubbed "the miracle-make-you-skinny" food because of it's thickening properties which makes you feel full faster & eat less - it's all the rage in Japan.

Irish Moss is also used to clear Light Beers of excess malt proten and to refine wines.

Carrageenan has even made it into THE poshest of the posh restaurants around the globe. In addition to that it can be found in all sorts of stuff like ice cream, coconut milk, biscuits, milk shakes, puddings, natural toothpastes & air freshener gels.

In Europe carrageenan is listed as E number E407 - pop int
o your local grocer and see how many E407's you can find in the food you buy.
Who ever said that E numbers were bad for you didn't know about Irish Moss...

Healthy, Wealthy & Wise
Medicinally, Irish Moss is said to reduce:
a) Peptic and duodenal ulcers
b) Gastric (acid) secretions
AND can be taken internally as a laxative, cough suppressant, expectorant & to relieve sore throats.

Rich in iodine & sulphur, Irish Moss is one of many herbs used to balance and/or provide nourishment to thyroid(s)

May da Luck of the Irish be wid ya! - According to folklore, Irish Moss was used for safety & protection.

Legend has it that dried Irish Moss was placed beneath rugs to bring WEALTH, good luck & prosperity.

A word to the WISE!
Always seek medical advice when using this herb to treat any and all medical conditions.
Irish Moss contains blood thinning properties and as such it *should not* be taken at the same time with aspirin or Ibruprophen. Also because of it's ability to absorb minerals it may induce gastro-intestinal discomfort when taken internally.

Things that make you go ...mmmmmmm!!!
In Jamaica, to "safeguard" a man's libido there are certain "stamina" drinks made from the humble Irish Moss.... no joke ... seriously!!! Barbados, Irish Moss is used as an aphrodisiac.
(this is what I've read - no actual research has been conducted........... yet ;o) )

Recipe time

To soften even the driest of curly-coily hair

Setting lotion and/or a styling gel
5 to 10 grams of dried Irish Moss
40 grams of water (add more water if you wish)
1 gram of Organic dried Chamomile herb
1 gram of Organic dried Rose Petals & Buds
1 gram of Virgin Coconut Oil
1 or 2 drops of Vegetable Glycerin (optional)

Prep time: 10 mins

Bring water to a boil then turn off the heat
Add the dried herbs & the Irish Moss to the boiled water
Cover and let it set for 5 minutes or until it turns thick
Strain the herbs from the water
Add the Virgin Coconut Oil & Vegetable Glycerin
Stir until thick in consistency - if the consistency is thin add more Irish Moss
Allow to cool in the fridge
Use as a setting lotion and/or a styling gel

Store unused portion in the fridge for 3 days - discard after 3 days.

Protein Conditioner:
5 grams of dried Irish Moss
300 grams of water (add more water if you wish)
3 drops of Ylang-Ylang essential oil
2 drops of Lavender essential oil

Prep time: 15 mins

Bring water to a light simmer
Add the Irish Moss to the water
Cover and let it set for 5 minutes or until it turns thick
Allow it to cool
Strain the Irish Moss from the water
Add the essential oils
Shampoo hair as normal and instead of using a commercial conditioner just rinse your hair with the mixture
Use as you would your commercial conditioner.

Make your own inexpensive anti-wrinkle gel to tighten pores, reduce inflammation & help skin appear smoother.

Hand & Face Gel:
3 grams of dried Irish Moss
30 grams of water (add more water if you wish)
2 gram of Organic dried Lavender herb
1 gram of Organic dried Chamomile
0.5 grams of Organic Papaya Oil
0.5 grams of Vegetable Glycerin (optional)

Prep time: 10 mins

Soak the Irish moss, Organic dried Rose petals & buds & Organic dried Lavender herb in water for 10 minutes.
Bring water to a simmer then turn off the heat
Remove from the heat and let it cool.
Strain the herbs from the water into a bowl, pressing the gel through the strainer with a spoon
Stir in the Organic Papaya Oil & Vegetable Glycerin until it has emulsified
Pour the gel into a screw-top jar.

Store unused portion in the fridge for 3 days - discard after 3 days.

Oh yeah - if you plan on having a nice hot soak in the bath toss a little Irish Moss in there your skin will thank you for it!

Bath Soak - skin - so much - softer

Toss about 10 grams of Irish Moss into your bath. Add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil
OH - NICE!!!

We've done head & shoulder now it's nails & toes!

Sometimes what I like to do is soak 5 grams of dried Irish Moss & 5 grams of dried Organic Rose Petals in 400 grams of warm water, cover with cling film and place it in the fridge overnight.
Take a third of the mixture, strain the herbs away, pour it into a spray botte, add some more water, a couple of drops of my favourite essential oil, put the spray cap on the bottle and spritz my hair with it on a hot Summers day.
I use the other half of the mixture, with the dried herbs still in it, as a fingers & toes soak. Doing this prevents hang nails and softens the cuticles & nail beds making it easier to trim. So when I'm done both my hands and my feet look, feel and smell GREAT!!!

For those of you who have always wanted to go to the SPA but your moo-laa says "nah!!!"
All you need is a bit of seaweed, honey, yoghurt, sugar and some other kitchen-y ingredients and create your own at home SPA.
Now that you have the low-down on Irish Moss the next step is to make seaweed wraps, face packs & hair muds!
Simple to do and I will show & tell all NEXT WEEK.

See you then...