Seaweed - Comfort Food, Inside and Out

Thalassotherapy (seaweed therapy) 

Phycology is the study of algae, of which seaweeds are proud members. Brown seaweed is typically called kelp, though it can also be green, red or black, making a beautiful, colorful display in its natural, underwater setting. Fresh seaweed feels like squishy, slimy goo, but this esteemed algae enjoys a very long history as nutrient-rich food, fertilizer and therapeutic. The tried-and-true tenants of thalassotherapy are that repeated exposure to sea air and immersion in warm seawater, mud, clay and protein-rich seaweed helps restore the body's natural chemical balance. Science confirms that seaweed bathing helps lower physical stress and relieves skin conditions (such as psoriasis, eczema, acne). Seaweed treatments are associated with body toning, slimming and the release of toxins.

Winter’s Gift from the Sea

During summer, nature’s bounty is plentiful on land. In winter, when the sun recedes and earth grows fallow, it is the ocean that brings forth abundance. In fact, the Irish Gaelic for the most common, useful kelp means “winter seaweed.” Harvesting this winter gift was not easy for the ancestors who waded out in frigid waves to their necks to haul in the plants to cut and process them. It was worth the toil and risk as they knew just how valuable a commodity it was. The location where a family harvested seaweed was a closely held secret. Many winter seaweed traditions are still observed in Ireland, particularly in delicacies eaten at Christmas. Tradition has it that dúlamán (channel wrack) and green clover were the two foods on which Saint Colmcille survived.

Seaweed in Irish Language

The word sleabhac (nori, laver, sloke) also refers to the resilient mix of tough dermal bone and keratinized cells that form the inside of an animal horn, the part that gives a horn its strength. Because of the potency of seaweed, the word can also refer to a mysterious otherworldly being. It’s used in the phrase meaning, “May the devil take him.” Expressions meaning “let him go to the devil”, or “he can go to blazes”, literally translates as “let him have the seaweed”. To “offer my two-cents worth” is literally “put my oar into the seaweed.” The quarrelling over seaweed rights was just as fractious as encroachment on a turf patch and is reflected in the proverb meaning, “I’m okay, let the guy have the seaweed.”

“King of the Sea”

Now, you can enjoy the restorative qualities of thalassotherapy without risking your life or putting a curse on your neighbor! The Celtic Ranch is pleased to carry Rí Na Mara (King of the Sea) and Irish Organics lines of Irish Seaweed Cosmetics from County Galway. Using wild, organic seaweed harvested on the West coast of Ireland and combined with botanical extracts – these products put the power of Atlantic coast skincare conveniently at your fingertips. From the Dried Seaweed Bath Soak to the firming Body Lotion and the moisturizing/anti-aging Face Cream – you can transport yourself to Tír na nÓg, the mythical land in the western sea where trees are ever green, flowers always in bloom and people, ever youthful.

Lori McAlister

Wrangler of Cultural Affairs

The Celtic Ranch | 404 Main Street | Weston, MO 64098 | Home of The Whiskey Snug

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