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Carrageen is an Atlantic seaweed available in trendy supermarkets across Ireland. Californian hipsteratti like to call it Irish moss, and use it to set vegan desserts in place of verboten animal gelatin. So it’s not surprising that, when boiled, carrageen has an Angel Delight texture to salve achy throats. My little ones think this brew is like a wobbly dessert, administered from a spoon. Granted, their taste buds are probably shot when they’re fighting a cold.

It’s unclear whether the antimicrobial effect is from the raw honey, vinegar, turmeric, ginger or wild carrageen. There’s evidence to suggest that each of these sonic ingredients harbour their own deadly ninja moves. Not that I care much, so long as my cough is salved in some way (if even momentarily).

Treating yourself with your mind is also a great recipe. If the placebo effect can account for up to a 48 per cent improvement in symptoms during some clinical trials, it’s not unfair to suggest that our minds are in fact the best superfood du jour. Such a state of affairs can really ruin a coffee break at a medical conference.

The idea that your brain can stimulate healing is hardly new. But it’s certainly worth remembering our brain’s currency in the healing process. If our emotional selves can help convince our physical selves that a fake treatment is the real thing — the placebo effect — just think of the amazing benefits and possibilities we all hold for our future wellness. Wish yourselves well, my friends!

The Brew

Makes 2 mugs

Carrageen is a type of Irish mossy seaweed available in loads of Irish supermarkets like Supervalu, and certainly in all good health stores.

  • Roughly 20g packet of Carrageen moss
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon

Optional add-ons

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • Crack of black pepper
  • Other citrus fruits
  • 1 teaspoon minced turmeric root, or dried turmeric

1. Soak the carrageen in water for 30 minutes to rehydrate it. Remove, discard liquid, and rinse under the cold tap. Boil the carrageen in a large saucepan with the cloves and around 750ml of fresh water. Secure a lid on it.

2. After 20-30 minutes, strain the “ocean veg” brew and allow the liquid to cool to lip temperature before stirring in the remaining ingredients and optional add-ons.

3. The brew will set like lemon curd once cooled. If (or when) this happens, gently re-heat. If your cough is particularly chesty, make several batches with added ginger zest and sip all day, with the aid of a couple of Woody Allens.

For kids:

Add extra honey, making sure it’s locally sourced. Administer by the spoon to help with their bark! A few teaspoons a day is plenty. Not suitable for babies.

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  • Reply Eamon February 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    What are Woody Allens ?

    • Reply Susan Jane February 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Good question! Woody Allen is a comedian and film director. He’s very popular here, so the reference is a little arcane sorry! We love his work.

    • Reply Susan Jane December 30, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      Movies! You’ll love them! (Annie Hall is one of his best)

  • Reply Stewart February 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Your very lucky in Ireland having GPs interested in food as medicine all my Doctors want to do is ply me with drugs. I’m resisting so far with some little success.

  • Reply Niamh July 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Just wondering about storage? How long will it last? It worked a treat on my 1.5 year old who had bad chesty your book by the way!

    • Reply Susan Jane July 11, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      Oh shuga – I have no idea how long this can last. We use it within 48 hours or chuck it. Delighted it brought relief. Highfive!

  • Reply paddy gubbins December 31, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    what is the dosage ie teaspoonfuls ect

    • Reply Susan Jane December 30, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Hello Paddy. Hope it brought you some relief. You can sip the entire 700ml brew in 1 day.

  • Reply Catherine June 20, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Just making your receipe, hoping beyond hope it helps, bad chest cough antibiotics didn’t work, not going there again, il let you know how I get on, I’ve a cough that would deafen you, has me drained, 
    Forever hopeful and optimistic 

    • Reply Susan Jane June 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Jaypers. Fingers crossed.

  • Reply Anne Green April 21, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Just wondering about the cider vinegar… does it go into boil up? How long to boil for? I suppose best taken as a hot drink like a tea?

    • Reply Susan Jane April 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      You can do it both ways. Best hot – for sure! Good luck!

  • Reply Susie Fletcher December 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Can we buy Carrageen moss in the UK please? Would love to make this for me and my little grandson!

    • Reply Susan Jane December 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      I hope so! Here’s some I found on Amazon

      But if you ask your local health food store or Waitrose, they will certainly help order it in for you (if it’s not already on their shelf). Best of luck – I hope it brings as much relief as it does in our home!

      • Reply Susie Fletcher January 1, 2018 at 11:32 am

        Thank you I’ll get onto it straight away. Just ordered the Virtuous Tart too. Here’s to a healthier 2018

  • Reply Susie Fletcher January 1, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Thank you I’ll get onto it straight away. Just ordered the Virtuous Tart too. Here’s to a healthier 2018

  • Reply Fiona Dolan January 2, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    I made this brew using some Irish sea weed that I gathered on a Burren eco tourism tour (can’t remember the names of each but i threw in a few leaves (?) of each!)). Also added a stick of lemongrass and some cardamom in the mix! Turned out great. Thanks for the recipe! Fingers it’ll be my shield to the flu epidemic that seems to be going around! 🙂 

    • Reply Susan Jane January 3, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Good on you! Hope it was good and gooey to soothe the throat 😉

  • Reply Susie Fletcher January 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Just received the Irish Seaweed Carrageen from your link and bemused to see on the packet that is is from Canada. Anyway I’m sure it’s roots were in Ireland. Am about to make the brew.

    • Reply Susan Jane January 8, 2018 at 6:16 pm

      Oh Man! How is that?!?! Hope it works. At least is was from pristine waters!

  • Reply Terri November 23, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve just made this!! Can I ask…do I now just throw the seaweed away? 🙁 it seems a shame to waste it!! Thanks x

    • Reply Susan Jane March 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Makes amazing compost – but I hear you. It’s sad to throw away. My youngest did art with it (comical, but satisfying). You could also have a hot bath with it. SJ

  • Reply Roy Whelan February 20, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve just made this and I’m currently doing my best to drink it to rid myself of a cough.
    ill let you know if it was worth the facial contortions I make with each drink.

    • Reply Susan Jane March 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Do! I feel your pain!

  • Reply Mary September 26, 2019 at 6:56 am

    I have had a bad chest 20 years. October ’18 got a chest infection 8 antibiotics from then until January, out of hours Dr. over Christmas, continued until May, lab check still infection, started on Carrigeen moss, did not take an antibiotc then, improved each day, over the summer chest better than it’s been for years. Went away for 6 weeks came back extremely chesty, had taken antibiotics, started carrigeen moss after returning, and once again am improving daily. I add the juice of 6 oranges and 3 lemons and honey. Easy to take

    • Reply Susan Jane October 1, 2019 at 10:31 am

      Oh that sounds simply awful you poor woman. I hope you are on the mend, and taking care of yourself as you would do for another loved one. SJ

  • Reply Mary March 2, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    Have been on carrigeen moss since last May, bad lungs never smoked. I am sure Carrigee has helped me.
    I add 6-8 oranges to mine, I am now told by my daughter that I should not put them in. I take a whiskey glass of oy every day.

    • Reply Susan Jane March 5, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Wow! Good on you!

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