Your whole food, plant-based life.

Irish Moss Health Concerns

Go figure, I finally jump onto the Irish Moss train, which has been touted as a super food in the raw food community for years, only to wake up to a weekly email in my in-box from Dr. Andrew Weil warning about the dangers of carrageenan. What does this have to do with Irish Moss? Carrageenan is extracted from Irish Moss.

Alarmed, I started digging and emailing. I even went to the woman who is considered to be the one of the top experts in carrageenan research, Dr. Joanne Tobacman of the University of Illinois. Dr. Tobacman has been studying the effects of carrageenan for over a decade.

It seems that carrageenan can cause inflammation (one of our greatest enemies) and intestinal distress. Even more alarming, when carrageenan is extracted from the irish moss, this form of carrageenan has been associated with human cancers.

But wait, haven’t we all read about the wonderful health benefits of Irish Moss? Isn’t it supposed to be great for us? I wondered if there was a difference between consuming Irish Moss in it’s whole form vs an extraction, the carrageenan.

I asked Dr. Tobacman if we needed to be concerned with consuming Irish Moss in it’s whole form. While the extraction is the most dangerous form (and widely found in many organic and non-organic products for sale), Dr. Tobacman stated, “When we tested Irish moss, we found that it also caused inflammation, similar to the effect of the derived carrageenan. The degree of inflammation was less, probably due to reduced availability of the carrageenan, due to the other ingredients in the seaweed. The answer to your question is yes, I think that Irish moss should be avoided, due to the likelihood that the carrageenan in the Irish moss will lead to inflammation.”

So there you have it. Armed with that information, you will not see Irish Moss used in any more recipes designated for consumption on this website. I am also redoing the Lemon Raspberry Souffle Tart that I published last week, replacing Irish Moss on the ingredient list.

Because of the prevalence of carrageenan in so many of the products that we use, including many organic varieties,  I am including some links that I think are important for you to visit to educate yourselves on this dangerous food additive.

Dr. Tobacman’s studies can be viewed here: Studies on Carrageenan (these are published medical studies)

Another excellent, easier to read article by Rodal Press: Carrageenan, The Natural Ingredient that is Wrecking Your Gut

From the Cornucopia Institute: Carrageenan: Linked to Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Colon Cancer  This article also discusses the attempts to get carrageenan removed from organic foods and the push-back the ensued.

After researching, reading and communicating with Dr. Tobacman, I would suggest that you remove Irish Moss from your raw food pantry and also make sure you look for carrageenan on your food labels and avoid it. Cornucopia has compiled a list of food producers that use carrageenan and those who don’t. You can find that list here: Shopping Guide to Avoid Carrageenan.





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  1. Julia wrote on December 17, 2016

    I have read that there are different kinds in the Irish moss family. The one that SHOULD NOT be consumed is Chondrus Crispus aka Carageenan moss. The one that is safe and has no Carageenan in it is Gracilaria. It seems that just saying Irish moss is blanketing all the various types. Could you ask your doctor friend about Gracilaria? Perhaps all is not lost! 🙂

    • Holly Hernandez wrote on March 24, 2017

      Yes, I have heard the same thing but have tried to research further on the internet but there is very little about this kind of Irish Moss. I would like more info on the topic.

  2. Moran wrote on December 6, 2016

    Hi! I’m looking for something to replace the Irish moss in Raw vegan cake. Do you have any idea?

    • Susan wrote on December 7, 2016

      I don’t have a 1 to 1 raw replacement but we have many raw vegan cakes here that don’t use it. Coconut butter or oil will set up a cake depending on the recipe. Cheers!

  3. Winnie wrote on March 17, 2016

    Hi Susan, what do you think of agar agar? Does it also have the same concern as carrageenan?

    • Susan wrote on March 19, 2016

      Hi, Winnie, I use agar agar. I have not seen any studies that link it to any of the concerns with carrageenan. But you could always research it. Cheers!

  4. Satari RAven wrote on February 29, 2016

    Interesting article. I know that it is a year old or so but it came up when I was researching where to buy Irish Moss. I do feel there is a big difference between ingesting something in it’s whole form vs. a chemical derivative. What I found a bit shocking was after you clearly stated you did not support eating Irish Moss you went on to offer it as a face mask! I wonder if you’ve ever researched what we absorb through our skin. Kind of a paradox, wouldn’t you say?

    • Wanda wrote on March 6, 2016

      My point exavtly. How can you stand strongly against a product but at the same time use it on your skin? Our skn absorbs products too, of course this article is contradictory.

      • Susan wrote on March 6, 2016

        I have removed the face-mask.

  5. M Ellen wrote on February 26, 2016

    I need irish moss for something (not cooking) where in london can u get it?

  6. Susan wrote on December 27, 2015

    Not likely. The Irish ate Irish moss for hundreds of years and it didn’t harm them, rather it has health benefits. This blog explains that “We can not judge the health of a whole food based on unnatural processed concentrations of it’s component parts.” ( )
    This is a case of healthy natural plants grown and eaten by cultures for many years suddenly be so unhealthy, because of funded “research” that is misleading and prevents the truth of natural health from being embraced.

  7. raviebun wrote on December 22, 2015

    Hi I have to disagree with your post because of a personal experience. I and my father have suffered from extreme thyroid problems. Throat closing, goiters, crazy hormonal imbalance. Every time we would get tested we would either come back as borderline or inconclusive.

    I tried Irish moss for the first time a few weeks ago and for the first time since puberty my throat finally stopped hurting. I have been in pain all of these years and for the the first time our throats didn’t hurt. Our hormones went down as well because me and my father had a lot of rage.

    The doctors are the same people that told me nothing was wrong with my thyroid, the irish moss told me I can live life without pain in my thyroid and the rage.

    • pro wrote on July 11, 2016

      thank you sooooo much for your testimony. i am using irish moss too… and it’s so confusing because there are some web sites out there saying that you should not use irish moss for thyroid problems, yet there are others that say it’s exactly what you need if you have thyroid problems.

  8. Janice Marie Foote wrote on December 2, 2015

    p.s. I also avoid Xanthan Gum, as it stops my system up!!! and prevents me from bathrooming regularly :-O I know Xanthan Gum can come from different sources, though I don’t know which source bothers my digestives, so I avoid it too!!! Which means I don’t eat hardly any Gluten Free products, ’cause they are starting to put Xanthan Gum in a lot of those types of foods. Thankfully I can consume gluten just fine 😉

  9. Janice Marie Foote wrote on December 2, 2015

    I avoid Carrageenan and now Irish Moss like the plague :-O Too bad Field Roast is putting Irish Moss into their alterna-cheeses!!! Thank goodness not in their delish veggie sausages 😀 at least not yet 😉


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