Irish Moss

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Chondrus crispus (L)

Synonyms: carragheen, pearl moss, carrahan

Order: Gigartinaceae/Rhodophyta

Description: Chondrus is a seaweed or red alga, purple to green when fresh but dried to yellow-brown translucent forked fronds or thalli, 5-25cm long. It is found on the Atlantic coasts of Ireland, Europe and the United States.

Parts used: dried thallus

Collection: Chondrus may be collected from the rocky coasts of north-west Europe at low tide all year round.

Constituents: up to 80% mucilage, polysaccharide complexes (carrageenans - up to 80%), protein, iodine, bromine, iron, sulphur, other mineral salts, vitamins A and B1.

Actions: demulcent, nutritive, relaxing expectorant, antitussive, emollient

Indications: convalescence, cachexia, dyspepsia, gastritis, bronchitis, cystitis; topically as a lotion for chapped hands and dermatitis.

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: The large quantity of mucilage in Chondrus makes it a valuable remedy for the treatment of digestive conditions where a demulcent is required, such as gastritis and ulcers. Carrageenan is reported to reduce gastric secretions. It is traditionally given as a nourishing food for invalids and can be boiled with milk and made into a dessert. Its main use is in respiratory problems such as bronchitis, and it has been used in the past to treat tuberculosis.

Combinations: Chondrus may be combined with Cinnamomum and Glycyrrhiza in bronchial catarrh, or with Althaea root and Ballota in dyspepsia.

Caution: Polluted coastal areas should be avoided when gathering this remedy because of the risk of heavy metal contamination.

 Preparation and Dosage: (thrice daily)

Regulatory status GSL

Dried thallus: 5-10g or by infusion

Additional Comments: The mucilage present in Irish moss is used in large quantities by the food industry to make jellies or aspic and as a smooth binder. It finds a use in cosmetics as a skin softener. 



BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.

Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.

Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.

Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London.

Mabey, R. (ed.) 1991 The Complete New Herbal, Penguin, London.

Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.

Polunin, M. and Robbins, C. 1992 The Natural Pharmacy, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.


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Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 27th November 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals