Over the past week I have received emails and phone calls about the safety of consuming Irish Moss. Dr. Andrew Weil has openly spoken out against Carrageenan which is derived from Red Irish Moss, some people have taken this to mean that Irish Moss is the “bad guy”. It is my belief that the toxic alkali used on the Irish Moss to produce Carrageenan is really the culprit.
Carrageenan is used in soy milk, boxed almond milk, ice creams and more. After doing some research and consuming Irish Moss myself for a few years I still think that Irish Moss is safe and it is the use of it to make a processed food that is the problem. Think of hydrogenated fats. Olive oil has many health benefits, however if someone were to hydrogenate it and sell it as a butter substitute, it would be harmful for human consumption. It is the processing of these wonderful whole foods that causes so many health issues.
I would hate to see a terrific product that has the ability to release heavy metals, provide iodine and minerals and clear mucus from the body be demonized. I will continue to do my research, and if I find anything that leads me to believe that this wonderful seaweed that makes a great fat and nut replacement in so many of our raw food creations is actually not okay, I will be sure to let you know.
Having said that, I urge you to do your research on Irish Moss and Carrageenan and come to your own conclusions. And first trust your intuition and your body, everything in moderation, especially concentrated seaweeds, super foods and even nuts and fats.
Here is some of the research that supports my beliefs below:
For decades carrageenan was presumed safe to eat, but new research has shown that it can cause health problems – and should be avoided. The method by which it is processed – using strong alkali solvents is also questionable. These solvents could remove the tissues and skin from your hands – it is that toxic.
There are other questionable additives that are being used in our food supply and the only way to avoid them is to eat unprocessed foods.
I started reading labels back in 1961. I was guided, not to buy something, if I couldn’t pronounce it, but I didn’t know about the dangers of eating carrageenan, locust bean gum, guar gum, xanthan, etc. All of these additives have side effects that can cause gastrointestinal problems. Most doctors treat your symptoms with medications, instead of, determining what is causing the symptoms. They are blissfully unaware that many of the foods and substances you are eating have caused your health problems. Source
Carrageenan is extracted from red seaweed by powerful chemical alkali solvents – capable of removing skin as quick as any acid. It’s used for food thickening and its fat and gelatin qualities. In its natural state it’s healthy; in its processed state, it’s highly antagonistic to humans. It’s the vegetarian equivalent of casein – protein isolated from milk to thicken foods. Carrageenan is the magic ingredient used to de-ice frozen airplanes sitting on tarmacs…oh great, and we’re ingesting this stuff!… If you don’t believe a food additive is also an aircraft de-icer, check out the “official” explanation for de-icing aircraft by US Patent Office website here.
Why It’s Used
Besides food additive uses, carrageenan is in cosmetics, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, room deodorizers, ulcer medications, petrolatum, and cod liver oil. Predominantly it’s in food preparations as substitute for fat – combining with milk proteins, increases solubility and improves texture. Because of this, it’s used in low-calorie formulations like beverages, infant formula, processed low-fat meats, whipped cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc. – often combined with gums like locust bean or guar, to improve texture.
Dangers of Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a suspected factor linking it to varieties of gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowel syndrome, colorectal malignancy, intestinal ulcerations, tumors and growths.
Research shows carrageenan coats insides of the stomach like gooey honey – often causing digestive challenges. If a person consumes a soy product and reacts negatively, blaming soy for their stomach or lower gastrointestinal discomfort, it may be carrageenan they’re actually reacting to.
High weight molecular carrageenans are considered safe by the FDA. Low weight carrageenans are considered dangerous – even soy milk manufacturer SILK™ admits this.
Research from Professor Joanne Tobacman, M.D., University of Iowa College of Medicine, scientist and carrageenan expert, discusses valid concerns that digestive enzymes and bacterial action convert high weight carrageenans to dangerous low molecular weight carrageenans and poligeenans in the human gut – linked to human cancers and digestive disorders. Tobacman’s evidence and conclusions are based upon human tissue samples, not animal studies.
Tobacman studied effects of carrageenan on growth of cultured human mammary epithelial cells for two weeks. She found that extremely low doses of carrageenan disrupted the internal cellular architecture of healthy breast tissue, leading her to conclude: “The food additive, carrageenan, has marked effects on growth and characteristics of human mammary cells in tissue cultures at concentrations much less than those frequently used in food products – carrageenan destroys human cells in tissue cultures, including epithelial intestinal and prostate cells.” Her conclusion: carrageenans are dangerous for human consumption, period!
Products Known to Contain Carrageenan – READ LABELS!
SILK™ and some other brands of soy milks
Coconut milk (some brands)
Hershey’s™ Real Chocolate – not so real!
Liquid coffee creamer
Ice cream and sherbets
Jams & Jellies
Processed meat or fish
Prepared pie fillings
Immediate and Delayed Responses
If you experience any symptoms, especially gastrointestinal, go back and see if what you consumed contained carrageenan. Listen to your body language; it never steers you wrong. Remember, symptoms may be immediate or as delayed as 48 hours.
Carrageenan Allergy – Case History
“Our son had an as-of-yet undiagnosed metabolic disorder as an infant and was not growing. The doctors surgically installed a g-tube in his belly and force-fed him formula containing high amounts of Carrageenan (not that they cared; it was the scientifically engineered nutrient content they wanted).
The more they insisted we pump through him, the sicker he became, the more mucous his body produced, and he nearly died. Rapid improvement occurred when we stopped feeding him the formula under a new doctor’s care, who wanted him breastfed and self-selecting his diet (all whole foods) while his gut healed. It was then we started looking into food additives, most of which trigger our son’s gastro-reflex issues. After complete avoidance of food containing carrageenan, he quickly recovered”.
Dr. Gloria Gilbère (aka Dr. G), D.A.Hom., Ph.D., D.S.C., EcoErgonomist, Wholistic Rejuvenist Source.