Jamaican Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) is a very common, and commercially important weed in Jamaica. It is also cultivated in Atlantic Canada. Also known as Carrageen or Pearl Moss, this seaweed also grows among submerged rocks off the coast of France and, naturally, Ireland. The plant consists of a greenish frond that turns purple when dried. The Irish consumed Jamaican Irish moss during the famine of the 19th century. It was once used as a mattress stuffing, as cattle feed, and as a thickener for coloured inks used in printing. Jamaican Irish moss has been described as remarkable for its extreme variability, the difference is mainly due to the great diversity in the width of the segments.
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A 'red algae' growing in lower rocky inter-tidal zones with wave action and subtidal zones with less water movement, Jamaican Irish moss displays a wide range of colours, depending on nutrient availability and light stimulation. The best-fertilized Jamaican Irish moss is a deep purplish-brown with tiny bright blue glints, and pigmentation declines with nutrient availability. Simply noting that Jamaican Irish moss is green or yellow does not indicate an unusual condition, since this plant has always managed to grow in habitat with lower nutrient availability where these lighter colours will normally occur. But when habitat that once supported thick, deep-purple moss now produces only short yellow plants, a decline in nutrient availability is suggested.
There most popular moss that now grows is only very short, pale greenish-gold plant. And along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia in general, areas where moss raking is feasible the good moss have been vanishing. Jamaican Irish moss is used to boost the body when recovering from a serious illness, due to its high content of important nutrients. It has been used to treat bronchitis, goitre, thyroid problems, and to tone and strengthen the body’s glands. It has been described as a demulcent, emollient and nutritive. It is a popular remedy made into a jelly for pulmonary complaints and kidney and bladder affections. Can be combined with cocoa. The decoction is made by steeping 1/2 OZ. of the Jamaican Irish moss in cold water for 15 minutes and then boiling it in 3 pints of milk or water for 10 or 15 minutes, after which it is strained and seasoned with lemon, cinnamon, vanilla or nutmeg and sweetened to taste. It can be taken freely. The primary properties of this Jamaican herb are alterative, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, immune stimulant, laxative, nutritive, and yin tonic. Jamaican Irish moss is available in tea and capsule forms. The known active constituents include protein, polysaccharides, iodine, bromine, mucilage, carrageen, beta-carotene, and Vitamin B-1.
Jamaican Irish Moss Drink Recipe
This drink, Irish Moss, is one of the most notorious among Jamaican men that is said to be the drink that will “put it back” or “put lead" in your pencil. Good for the writers, eh?
Everywhere you go: restaurants, juice shops, grocery stores, street side vendors (especially), you name it...it's the base from which many Jamaican aphrodisiacs are derived.
Made from a light-coloured seaweed with the same name, the many benefits from this drink cannot be said in this article. I must admit that without the other ingredients this drink does not taste good, though.
Like anything else, flavour is the key. As such, 'moss' is usually enhanced with some of the ingredients in the recipe below and other things that would make anyone say, "huh?"
Oh yes! it does't taste good without the additives. And, to make things worse, some people are now using organic and, or, vegan ingredients to make it palatable for a certain crowd.
However, the taste of 'moss' can be adjusted to satisfy your own taste, too. So, vegan or not...it's malleable. Heck, I've enhanced it with peanut, strawberry, mango and pumpkin...seriously.
The point here is you can make your own concoction (aphrodisiac) using this seaweed as the base ingredient...Cool?
½ lb Irish Moss
2 oz. Gum Arabic
1 can. Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 lb Sugar
2 tbsp. Vanilla Flavoring
4 qt. Water
Wash the moss in the sink to remove sand or foreign matter. Bring water to a boil and then add moss, linseed, isinglass, and gum arabic.
Let the ingredients cook until everything is dissolved, except the moss. This will take about an hour or so.
Strain the liquid into another container and separate the boiled moss trash from the drink.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixture, now do a taste test. Add more of anything you feel that would make this drink taste the way you want it to.
Put it to cool in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
Serve in 12 oz. cups.
Note: Because the thickness of this drink can vary, you may have to dilute this mixture to an acceptable level of consistency.
This drink can be flavoured with other flavourings such as Jamaican Strawberry Syrup, or add Peanut Butter, or Rolled Oats, or Ground Cashews, the possibilities are endless.
Try something new, don't be cautious, live on the edge!
The large quantity of mucilage in Jamaican Irish moss makes it a valuable remedy for the treatment of digestive conditions where a demulcent is required, such as gastritis and ulcers. Jamaican Irish moss 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. Jamaican Irish moss may be combined with Cinnamomum and Glycyrrhiza in bronchial catarrh, or with Althaeas root and Ballota in dyspepsia. Get Jamaica.Com makes it clear that gathering Jamaican Irish moss in polluted coastal areas should be avoided when gathering this remedy because of the risk of heavy metal contamination. The mucilage present in Jamaican 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.
Jamaican Irish moss is also used as a stabilizer in such dairy products as ice creams, sherbets, chocolate milk, yogurt and whipped cream. In its raw form, Jamaican Irish moss has been used as a bulk laxative, which also coats and soothes the entire gastrointestinal tract. In various forms, it helps alleviates peptic and duodenal ulcers in humans while having no adverse effects on the colon. Past topical applications of Jamaican Irish moss include its use in lotions to soften the skin & prevent premature wrinkling, and as a compress or poultice for inflamed tissues. It has also been used to thicken cosmetics, in addition to being used as a binding agent, like in toothpaste.
Jamaican Irish moss has been used effectively as a demulcent and mucilaginous. Among the people who live where it grows, Jamaican Irish moss is considered an excellent remedy for tuberculosis, coughs, bronchitis, and intestinal problems. It also makes a nourishing food for those recovering from tuberculosis and other illnesses. Medicinally it is generally used in the form of a decoction. Because Jamaican Irish moss has some blood thinning properties, people taking anti-coagulating medications should avoid using it. In Jamaica, the weed has one major benefit it has been described as a sexual enhancer. It is claimed that men who consume a lot of Jamaican Irish moss in its boiled liquid form, will increase their sexual prowess. Though there is no scientific evidence to support such a notion but it has still held true for many a user who drinks the brew here in Jamaica and across the globe.