People on popular social platform TikTok are using Irish moss, also known as sea moss, to help clear their skin and alleviate bloating. Media such as Insider.com are not having any of it, saying there aren’t a lot of studies that support sea moss health benefits and that too much of a good thing could be harmful.
Let’s have a little probe into what draws TikTok users, particularly those from younger age groups, toward sea moss — and where we draw the line between good and bad.
Why Sea Moss?
Naomi Maldonado, according to Insider, told her 44,000 TikTok followers that taking raw Irish moss, a kind of red algae, leads to a plethora of health benefits.
“You’re gonna notice that you’ll start to cough up a lot of phlegm, which is OK,” she says, pertaining to sea moss’ ability to expel mucus. She adds that it’s a “good thing” as your body is clearing out all the stuff that irks the lungs and there will be better breathing afterwards.
You’ll recall that this isn’t the first time that a popular figure on social media promoted sea moss. In 2020, reality TV superstar Kim Kardashian herself tweeted that “sea moss smoothies are really good,” and from there other celebrities such as Styles P and Angela Yee have come out to swear by the superfood that grows on the beaches along the rocky beaches of North Atlantic. Sea moss can be found in cultures in Ireland, Scotland, and the Caribbean, to name a few.
Of its seemingly endless roster of benefits, there are a couple that stand out and probably attract the younger demographic. Here are five of them:
- Gut health support – Adding this algae to the diet has been proven since ancient times to support digestion. Sea moss contains high fiber amounts, feeding the gut bacteria to prevent constipation and enhance the health of the immune system. Sea veggies like this also serve as a prebiotic, improving gut microbiota.
- Weight loss – Sea moss is claimed to aid in weight management, improving the metabolic system and digestion. The fiber content mentioned above also helps keep you feeling full longer. When you eat less, you help slash the likelihood of fat accumulating in the body.
- Energy boost – Why do you think many celebrities and influencers add their sea moss to their breakfast smoothie? One likely reason is the energy level boost that the algae may provide. Sea moss is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients that help the body fare better in stressful situations. It is particularly rich in iron, which contributes to energy.
- Healthy skin, hair, and nails – Sea moss offers plenty of sulfur, which provides antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This can help fight acne and skin aging. As a face mask, it can soothe skin and even help with conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, wounds, and burns.
- Immunity boost – One of the power nutrients in sea moss is potassium chloride, which helps the body reduce inflammation. People take it to lower their risk of infections, positively affecting their immune system. Magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc are also some of the infection busters present in the algae. Early studies even conclude that sea moss may protect the body from contracting salmonella.
Addressing Sea Moss Criticism
Despite the track record of sea moss in helping prevent disease and maintain overall health in cultures with direct access to raw sea moss form, it has its fair share of criticisms. One is that sea moss has not been extensively studied for its health benefits, relegating its influence in the folk medicine space.
Take note, however, that using sea moss for wellness is nothing new, as it has a long history as a natural health aide and homeopathic remedy in Ireland, Scotland, Jamaica, and other communities near the coasts where it’s found.
The Insider article also didn’t shy away from noting that sea moss can contain heavy metals and iodine, which can lead to health complications when it is consumed in excess.
Avoiding iodine overdose is indeed important to note when taking sea moss. Iodine is needed by hormones for optimum thyroid health. In excess, however, it can create new thyroid problems, so it’s critical to watch your other sources of iodine if you are already taking or supplementing with sea moss.
Doing your due diligence in sourcing real, raw sea moss to make your own sea moss gel will also address the point about it containing heavy metals. You should focus on getting uncontaminated sea moss and avoid pool-grown sources, especially in your sea moss pills. Certified organic sea moss is key to getting the benefits and not just empty hype from the digital space.