Herb Profile: Marshmallow
Marshmallow, Althaea officinalis
Marshmallow, the sugary confection, has its roots in marshmallow the plant. In earlier times, people would cook the roots with honey or sugar, form it into soft balls, and give it to their children to suck on to soothe a sore throat.
As a medicinal plant, the roots and leaves of marshmallow contain large amounts of mucilage and pectins, sugars, flavonoids, tannins, salt and phenolic acids. Out of all the mallows, it has the most anti-inflammatory, moistening, soothing, and softening properties. While marshmallow is helpful for many areas of the body, it has a specific relationship with the kidneys, due in part to it’s salty mucilaginous properties.
Marshmallow is soothing and healing to irritated and inflamed nerve endings. The mucilage in marshmallow has a gel like consistency that coats and protects the nerve endings. Marshmallow tea is helpful for treating sore throats, diarrhea, constipation, and bronchial inflammation. The root is best cold extracted in water and the mucilage extracts poorly in alcohol. It can be mixed into a paste with water and applied topically to soothe irritated skin.
Marshmallow’s mucilagenous quality is soothing to all mucous membranes, therefore great for digestive upset. Try the following as a tea or a tincture:
1 part Marshmallow
1 part Catnip
1/2 part Meadowsweet
1/4 part Licorice
Marshmallow can also be used to sooth digestion with carminatives such as fennel, coriander, cumin, and orange peel to name a few.
Throat Soother Tea (from Rosemary Gladstar Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health)This tea strengthens the voice and soothes throat irritation. Make a decoction of 2 parts licorice root, 1 part cinnamon, 1 part echinacea, 1 part marshmallow root and 1/8 part ginger. Drink several cups of tea a day.
Desert Bloom Infusion (from Rosemary Gladstar)Desert Bloom is an excellent formula for dry hair. Make an infusion with 1 part calendula flower, 1 part marshmallow root and 1 part nettle leaf. Use as a hair rinse.
For more information on Marshmallow check out this website.
Cautions/ContraindicationNone. Though if recipient is already excessively mucousy, marshmallow is not recommended at that time.
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