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Botanical Name : Gigartina stellata
Species: Mastocarpus stellatus
Synonym: Mastocarpus stellatus
Common Names: Clúimhín Cait, Cats’ puff, False Irish moss, Carragheen, Chondrus crispus
Habitat: Chondrus crispus is common all around the shores of Ireland and Great Britain and can also be found along the coast of Europe including Iceland, the Faroe Islands western Baltic Sea to southern Spain. It is found on the Atlantic coasts of Canada and recorded from California in the United States to Japan. However, any distribution outside the Northern Atlantic needs to be verified. There are also other species of the same genus in the Pacific Ocean, for example, C. ocellatus Holmes, C. nipponicus Yendo, C. yendoi Yamada et Mikami, C. pinnulatus (Harvey) Okamura and C. armatus (Harvey) Yamada et Mikami
Chondrus crispus is a relatively small red alga, reaching up to a little over than 20 cm in length. It grows from a discoid holdfast and branches four or five times in a dichotomous, fan-like manner. The morphology is highly variable, especially the broadness of the thalli. The branches are 2–15 mm broad, firm in texture and dark reddish brown in color bleaching to yellowish in sunlight. The gametophytes (see below) often show a blue iridescence at the tip of the fronds and fertile sporophytes show a spotty pattern. Mastocarpus stellatus (Stackhouse) Guiry is a similar species which can be readily distinguished by its strongly channelled and often somewhat twisted thallus. The cystocarpic plants of Mastocarpus show reproductive papillae[clarification needed] quite distinctively different from Chondrus. When washed and sun-dried for preservation, it has a yellowish, translucent, horn-like aspect and consistency.
Because of its mucus forming properties, carrageenan has been used in lung diseases and to improve bitter drug taste. Carrageenan has also been used in cases of digestive tract irritations and in diarrhea and dysentery. In France and Great Britain, carrageenan has been used to treat stomach ulcers due to its mucous properties. When used against ulcers, the body has no necessity to gastrointestinally absorb carrageenan, so that carrageenan acts directly on the mucous surface. Codfish liver oil emulsions have been prepared with carrageenans. Cotton-wood soaked in carrageenan decoction has been used as cataplasm.
Medicinally it is useful in chest and bronchial infections, as well as in the treatment of stomach ulcers and diseases of the bladder and kidneys. A syrup to combat coughs and colds can be made by adding ? cup of rinsed carragheen moss and the thinly pared rind and juice of 2 lemons to 6 cups of water. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes, add a dessertspoonful of honey and simmer for a further 10 minutes before straining. Serve the syrup hot or cold.
It is collected in Ireland and Scotland, together with Chondrus crispus as Irish moss, dried, and sold for cooking and as the basis for a drink reputed to ward off colds and flu.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.