Sea Moss, Irish Moss, and Gigartina: A Comparison

People often ask us, “What is the difference between Sea Moss, Irish Moss, and Gigartina?”

 There is much confusion about these red seaweeds’ common and Latin names and their similarities and differences. In fact, sometimes even the people that sell them do not know the difference! We will attempt to clarify this matter…

“Sea Moss” is a vague, umbrella-like term used to describe several different red marine algae species, mostly in the genera Gracilaria, Kappaphycus, and Euchema. These algae are mostly cultivated in subtropical or tropical ocean areas. We do not harvest or sell them.

Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus) is a north Atlantic species of red marine algae (seaweed). It is closely related to Gigartina. Irish Moss is mostly wild-harvested from eastern Canada and Europe. It does not grow in Northern California, and we do not harvest or sell it.

Gigartina  (Gigartina papillata, also known as Mastocarpus papillatus) is a species of red marine algae (seaweed) that grows in abundance on the Northern California coast. This is the species that we harvest and sell. (Another Gigartina species, Gigartina skottsbergii, is harvested from the wild on the coastlines of Chile and Argentina. It is closely related to the species of Gigartina that we harvest and sell.)

Gigartina and Irish Moss are closely related. They contain similar forms of carrageenans, which have been shown to have antiviral activity against a broad spectrum of viruses, including herpes, HPV, chickenpox, influenza, and coronaviruses.

These carrageenans also have a tonic effect on the lungs, immune system and digestive tract. There are some nutritional and medicinal differences between Gigartina and Irish Moss, but the differences are minor.

We sustainably hand-harvest our Gigartina papillata and sell it as a bulk powder. Our Gigartina Powder has a pleasant, Dulse-like flavor. It is a clean, food grade product, and has no “grit’ in it. Gigartina Powder can be sprinkled on foods as a condiment, added to soups or smoothies, or simply mixed into a small amount of water or juice. One level teaspoonful weighs about 4 grams.

We also sell our Gigartina in encapsulated form as “Red Marine Algae” capsules.
Gigartina Powder and capsules will retain their quality for at least three years if kept dry and away from light and heat. Seaweeds are natural products of the ocean, and may contain trace amounts of crustaceans or shellfish.

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