- Family Gigartinaceae
- Chondrus crispus
- Irish Moss, Chondrus, Carrahan, Carragheen, Carragennan
- Because of its blood-thinning properties, it should not be used by those taking anticoagulant medications.
- Because of its iodine content, those with thyroid problems or on thyroid medication should avoid the herb.
Carrageen is a perennial algae or seaweed, growing to about ten inches. The body of the plant is flat, cartilaginous, double-layered, and forked with a fan-shaped outline. The colour is usually yellow-green to purplish-brown when fresh, but turning to whitish-yellow and translucent after drying. The internal tissue is made up of reticulately linked cells and the bark layer is at right angles to the thallus (fronds).
It is found from the coast of Iceland to the Baltic, from northern Russia to the south of Spain, Morocco and the Cape Verde Islands, and also in parts of North America and some Japanese coastal regions. Carrageen grows just below the waterline to depths of up to seventy-five feet and attaching to rocks and stones. In the summer in North America and in the fall in Ireland, the plant is pulled up by hand or with a rake at low tide, and dried in the sun.
Carrageen is used extensively in the food and pharmaceutical industries as an emulsifying and binding agent. Toothpaste is one example.
An Irish moss extract is prepared using a diluted, almost boiling alkali solution,followed by filtration and extensive dehydration.
- digestive aid
- proteins (up to 10%)
- amino acids
- mineral salts (including iodides and bromides)
- polysaccharides (become jellylike when the plant is immersed in water)
- Thallus or whole herb
Its mucilage hinders the effect of peptides in digestive enzymes and used mainly as a roughage for constipation, to counter diarrhea, and for peptic ulcers.
A decoction is used for coughs, bronchitis, and tuberculosis to soothe dry mucous membranes and to encourage the coughing up of phlegm.
It is also used for such urinary infections as cystitis, but it is usually combined with other herbs for these treatments.