What is sea moss (Irish moss)?

Sea moss is not a regular part of most Americans’ diets, and research on its purported health benefits is limited. Most studies focus more generally on algae.

Even so, says Foroutan, sea moss can play a role in promoting health and fighting disease.

“This particular type of seaweed has long been used medicinally around the world,” she says. “When a food has been around in medicine for this long, there’s usually some truth to it, even if we don’t have the research to back it up.”

Indeed, particular attention has been paid to carrageenan which contains the following properties:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Anti tumor
  • Anti-thrombotic
  • Anticoagulant
  • Anti-hyperlipidemic
  • Immunomodulator

Below are some of the other proposed health benefits associated with sea moss that may warrant further studies in humans. Keep in mind that the data so far has mostly come from studies in animals, not people, and some of the purported benefits are only theoretical and require further research to be confirmed.

Improved gut health

Studies that have focused on sea moss in particular primarily support the idea that when consumed in supplement form, this seaweed may benefit gut health, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RDN, of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. based in Denver, Colorado. Sea moss contains prebiotic mucilage, a type of fiber that provides food with beneficial gut microbes, which in turn may support gut health.

For example, one study looked at the prebiotic effects of sea moss in rats and suggested the moss had a positive effect on gut health, gut microbes, and immune response. However, more studies are needed to see if sea moss has the same effect in humans.

Stronger immunity

As mentioned, sea moss can support the immune system. A review suggests that its carrageenans may contain anti-tumor properties. The authors cite other research that notes that red algae may also provide antibacterial and antifungal benefits.

One potential mechanism: Mucilage has a gelatinous texture, and sea moss could theoretically help soothe mucous membranes in the respiratory and digestive tracts, Foroutan says. (Mucous membranes produce mucus, which helps trap and flush germs from the body.)

Sustained weight loss

Although no clinical studies support sea moss as a remedy for weight loss, a review of macroalgae (algae) from the in vivo and in vitro studies have found possible anti-obesity effects. Although human studies are needed to confirm these benefits, researchers have found that macroalgae extracts may promote weight loss via thermogenesis, healthier gut microbiota, and fatty acid oxidation (although these effects are not have not been studied on microalgae such as sea moss).

One theoretical reason why sea moss may aid weight loss: Its fiber content may help curb appetite, Foroutan says.

Fiber is satiating, which means it may help you feel full longer and reduce the risk of overeating, but keep in mind that this effect has not been formally studied in sea moss. .

May improve heart health

Adding seaweed to your diet could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, thanks to the nutrient and antioxidant profile of seaweed, according to another review (but again, this research did not specifically look at sea moss). ).

Lower likelihood of developing certain cancers

A study found possible anti-tumor potential in sea moss after ultrasound-assisted extraction of its compounds, which inhibited the growth of certain human cancer cell lines in the laboratory. The researchers noted that this could be due to its antioxidant compounds.

These anticancer properties can also be attributed to the carrageenan content of sea moss and may even be helpful when combined with chemotherapy treatments.

But more human studies are needed to confirm the potential role of sea moss in cancer prevention and treatment.

More powerful treatment against HPV infection

According to one review, the carrageenan found in red seaweed may help protect against human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Although more studies are needed, researchers believe that carrageenan could complement other HPV preventive therapies, such as vaccines.

Healthier skin

Sea moss also appears to be gaining popularity as an ingredient in natural skin care products, although research on this use is lacking. In addition to its nutrients and antioxidants, sea moss contains sulfur, which can help treat acne as well as fungal and yeast infections of the skin, says Karan Lal, MD, board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology. Group in Hackensack, New Jersey. Amino acids in foam, such as arginine, may also benefit the skin by promoting the replacement of dead skin cells, Dr. Lal says.

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