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How Irish Moss Can Help Your Thyroid, Blood Sugar, and More

An image of red algae on sandChondrus crispus is a type of red algae found on the rocky coasts of the North Atlantic. You can consume it as a food or as an herbal remedy. It’s also called Irish moss and carrageen moss. It has some interesting uses and health benefits that we’ll discuss in this article, especially as it pertains to your immune system, the health of your skin, and the way your body produces and utilizes energy.

This seaweed is mainly composed of the mucilaginous, or jelly-like, substance called carrageen. This substance is commonly used as a thickening agent and emulsifier in the food industry. It can also be used as a plant-based substitute for gelatin.

Other substances found in it include carotenoids, which are the pigments that give it its red color, polysaccharides, which are carbohydrates, and albuminoids, which are simple proteins. Its mineral water content is also a good source of calcium, iodine, magnesium, sulphur, and potassium. Finally, seaweed is one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. These have many health benefits in their own right.

Health Benefits of Irish Moss

Irish Moss can support many different organs and systems, but we’ve found it particularly useful for those overcoming Bioenergetics Circuit dysregulation.

Your Bioenergetics Circuit is part of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. You can think of your NEM as your body’s global response to stress. It helps your body neutralize and adapt to stress, whether it comes from physical or emotional stressors. It’s composed of six circuits, including the Bioenergetics Circuit.

The Bioenergetics Circuit is made up of your thyroid, your pancreas, and your liver. Its main function is to produce energy and help your body utilize it in the most efficient manner possible. The thyroid produces thyroid hormones, which regulate your metabolism. The pancreas produces insulin, which delivers glucose to the cells, as well as digestive enzymes that break down food. And the liver is your body’s main detoxification organ.

As you can imagine, problems in this circuit can lead to issues with metabolism and detoxification. That’s why eating a proper diet, getting enough sleep, managing your stress, and taking the right supplements are all part of a good recovery plan for Bioenergetics Circuit dysfunction. Irish moss can play a part in the following ways.

#1 Thyroid Health

An image of a beach covered with red algaeYour thyroid requires iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which regulate your metabolism. They are involved in your basal metabolic rate, body temperature, sleep, weight, breathing rate, heart rate, cholesterol levels, nerve health, bone growth, and even in your muscle function. If your thyroid isn’t getting enough iodine to make thyroid hormones, all of those systems and functions will suffer.

Although rarer now than in the past, one of the causes of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. That’s why some kinds of table salt are now fortified with iodine. Still, there are certain health conditions, diets, and lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of iodine deficiency.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • General slowness
  • Lethargy
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation

If you have some of these, yet you don’t have an autoimmune issue like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other hormone imbalances, like adrenal fatigue, you might just have an iodine deficiency. Irish moss is high in iodine and can help with that. By raising your iodine levels, you may be able to reverse these issues. And if you have Bioenergetics Circuit dysfunction, fixing your thyroid issues will go a long way towards rebalancing the rest of this circuit.

#2 Blood Sugar Stability

Your pancreas is the second component of your Bioenergetics Circuit. Its main responsibility is to release the right amount of insulin at the right time in order to regulate your blood sugar levels and to provide your cells with that sugar. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down food into its constituent macro and micronutrients, which can then be used by the rest of your body for different functions.

Your body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which can be transported in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for your cells. They break it down to create ATP, the energy currency of life. Insulin is what transports the glucose in your blood to your cells. Without it, the glucose remains in your bloodstream, causing high blood sugar levels. Your cells then don’t get the raw materials they need to produce energy.

This is one of the main functions that gets disturbed in diabetes. The pancreas either doesn’t release enough insulin, or the cells resist the insulin carrying the glucose to them. Blood sugar instability is one of the biggest stressors your body can face, especially if it is a chronic issue. So it’s worth trying different approaches to get it under control.

Fucoxanthin, which is a carotenoid found in Irish moss, may help with that. It seems to help with insulin resistance in particular, making your cells more responsive to the insulin your pancreas produces. That means your pancreas won’t have to overwork to produce more and more insulin to get the same job done. This helps prevent the dreaded drops in blood sugar levels, called hypoglycemia, that many diabetics and adrenal fatigue sufferers can experience.

#3 Irish Moss Antioxidant Action and Immune Support

An image of a woman having her thyroid examinedThe carotenoids, including fucoxanthin, in Irish moss are also a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage the stable molecules in your cells by stealing electrons from them. This cycle creates oxidative stress, which is one of the root causes of many chronic health conditions such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular problems.

The antioxidant and disease-fighting properties of seaweed, including Irish moss, can help support your immune system as well. In fact, some early studies show it might aid with fighting certain viral and bacterial infections by stopping them from going into your cells or by reducing their effects once they’re in your system. More research needs to go into these properties, however.

#4 High in Omega-3

The omega-3 fatty acid content in Irish moss can be very beneficial for your health. It’s particularly good for your cardiovascular system and brain health. If you have adrenal fatigue, you may benefit a lot from adding extra omega-3s to your diet.

#5 Skin Softener and Moisturizer

Another interesting use is for skin health and beauty. It’s a natural softener that can also relieve irritation, and many beauty products contain it for its moisturizing effects. This same soothing property can also support the health of your upper respiratory tract, as it can calm irritation to the mucus membranes there.

Precautions for Taking Irish Moss

If you intend on consuming Irish moss as a food, you should be aware that the FDA recommends an upper limit of 225 mcg per day of iodine. That would translate to about two to four tablespoons of Irish moss per day as part of your regular diet. Of course, you may also need to adjust that depending on the overall salt content of your diet.

In herbal remedies, however, there might be different dosages of its constituents, so if you plan on taking it as a kind of supplement, then you should read the label.

Generally, we also recommend that you only take supplements under the guidance of an experienced nutritional coach or healthcare professional. They can then help you figure out the correct dosage for you within the framework of your diet, lifestyle, and any other supplements you’re taking.

This is especially important if you have a chronic health condition or are taking other medications. With adrenal fatigue, for example, paradoxical reactions and adrenal crashes can result from taking the wrong supplement or the wrong dose of the right supplement. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should avoid Irish moss altogether and stick to the supplements your healthcare provider recommends, such as prenatal vitamins.

In Conclusion

An image of a bowl of seaweedIrish moss can be a great addition to your diet and supplement routine. It has many health benefits, from helping with blood sugar control to its antioxidant properties to its iodine content. For these three reasons, it can be a useful support for Bioenergetics Circuit recovery and immune support.

Irish moss is generally safe, whether as a food or as an herbal remedy. However, you do need to mind the amount of iodine you consume. The FDA recommends no more than four tablespoons of seaweed (or 225 mcg of iodine) a day, depending on your diet and current health conditions.

© Copyright 2022 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Those with adrenal fatigue often have thyroid and blood sugar problems. And research shows that the iodine and fucoxanthin in Irish moss can be especially helpful for these conditions. It is also high in omega-3s and may help skin conditions. You can overdose on this substance though, so it's important to talk to your doctor first.