Magical Moss: Plant May Have Many Health And Medicinal Benefits

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January 9, 2019

There’s a lot more to moss than meets the eye. This soft, lush, low-growing plant comes in various shades of green, and its environmental benefits are plentiful. Science is also finding that some species may even be great for our bodies, even holding some of the same medicinal properties as cannabis.

Similar to Cannabis?

There are an estimated 10,000 different kinds of moss growing around the world, but a Liverwort species found only in Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Japan is gaining attention for its potential medicinal effects.

Liverwort Radula has medicinal properties
Liverwort Radula

Swiss researchers from the University of Bern say just like cannabis, Liverwort may be useful in treating cramps, nausea, and inflammatory diseases. The main difference is unlike marijuana, this moss won’t get you high.

Moss doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis. But it does contain perrottetinene, which has a very similar structure to THC.  

The researchers tested the moss on mice and discovered it might be a good alternative to THC. Despite the missing psychoactive effect, the moss was found to reduce or prevent the brain’s inflammatory processes.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances, and while more testing is certainly needed, this could open the door to helping treat a variety of health conditions for people who don’t like or want the high.   

Other Potential Health Benefits

Beyond pain management, moss may also be good for our health.

Another study by the University of Adelaide has discovered that moss possesses a complex carbohydrate called a polysaccharide that may be able to cleanse the gut.

The carbohydrate is similar to beta-glucan found in oats and cereals, but please don’t go looking through the forest for a meal of moss. The researchers behind this study say they still have a lot of work to do. In other words, don’t eat it.

At this point, they think they’ve found properties in moss that can be exploited to benefit different aspects of our health. We still don’t know how these elements will be extracted or consumed.

These findings are in the journal The Plant Cell.

Eco-Friendly

Clumps of moss are typically found growing in wetlands or forests with a lot of shade and moisture.

But many eco-friendly gardeners have taken to planting the lush ground cover in their gardens!

And why not? Not only does it add a splash of green to the landscape, but it also filters and retains water. It’s a source of food for beneficial organisms, helps with soil erosion, and even acts as a phytoremediator, meaning it can clean the earth of toxins.

Moss is also one of the best air purifiers around. It removes a massive amount of CO2 from the atmosphere, which is one of the reasons why the peat-free movement is gaining steam in the horticultural world.

It may not flower, grow tall, or at first glance, seem very special, but moss sure is magical. Another case of what’s good for the earth, also possibly being good for our bodies.

Catherine Sherriffs
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Catherine Sherriffs

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.
Catherine Sherriffs
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