A fisherman by the name of Sheldon Napier, 46 years old and living in White Horses, St Thomas, has spent the past three decades diving into the Caribbean Sea to come back with today’s sought-after superfood: sea moss.
Also known as Irish moss, this type of algae isn’t hailed as a superfood for nothing. It provides 92 out of the 110 minerals that the human body needs. It’s rich in iodine, which responds to thyroid hormone deficiency issues. It helps strengthen the immunity, beautify the skin and hair, and serve as an overall natural maintenance aid for wellness.
However, the journey isn’t without hard challenges for Napier, as the Jamaica Star reported in October 2020. Following the footsteps – or the plunge – of other family members, Napier expects the trade to pick up with a much-revived demand for sea moss. It didn’t make a lot of money for his father and brothers, but he’s ready to satisfy the surge.
‘More Profitable Than Fishing’
Much like other fisherfolk looking for the prized algae, Napier dries the sea moss on the beach and takes it home.
Sometimes, however, there isn’t enough time to take it home because the customers are there right away to buy; the product, sold by the pound, is priced anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the type.
“This is more profitable than fishing,” Napier says in the interview, saying he also hunts for fish and lobster.
The catch is: you can’t get sea moss any time you wish, as the sea has to be calm if you want to avoid dark, dirty, and risky waters. Predatory sea mammals are also aplenty, and sometimes having a brush with them means surrendering their catch to keep the peace.
Where Sea Moss Comes From
Carrageenans like sea moss are extracted from red algae of the Rhodophyceae class. Starting the 1960s, sea moss became the most important source of carrageenan. It’s found in abundance around the North Atlantic coasts, and is a mainstay in cultures like in Jamaica for their wondrous health benefits.
Sea moss is a traditionally celebrated source of sustenance. In the 1840s, it helped people survive the Irish Potato Famine, particularly those who lived in coastal areas. However, by the end of the famine, sea moss had fallen from grace and had not been consumed as often.
It’s preserved in order to be stored for longer periods of time. This is nothing unusual, as seaweed is often layered with salt for it to keep longer.
The bigger news is Irish sea moss has innumerable health benefits that the world at large needs to know. Here are some of them:
- Rich in nutrients such as vitamins A and C, amino acids, omega-3 fats, minerals, and antioxidants
- Strong anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-infection properties
- Assists respiratory health
- Helps remove excess mucus, which helps people dealing with a bad cold
- Enhances digestive health as it helps get rid of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut
- Helps the skin glow and recover from disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne breakouts
- Makes hair and nails become stronger
A Sustainable Future for Sea Moss
Many experts believe that we’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to organic sea moss health benefits.
This aligns with its promise of being a sustainable food source, especially with climate issues and pressures on the planet due to human activities. Responsible seaweed farming is doing its part to return oxygen to the ocean waters, slash their acidity, and offer a more abundant source of food for marine ecosystems.
Despite the consistent hype, consumers are warned against fake or low-quality sea moss sources, such as those grown in pools and tanks. This is why it takes due diligence and an awareness of brand quality to land the best sea moss capsules or supplements, if that’s the form that one is keen to take in today’s busy world.
Commercially sold sea moss products usually come with bladderwrack and burdock root extract in the formula for the ideal mix of potential benefits.
Keep posted for more news and updates on sea moss health benefits!