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Herb Spotlight - Marshmallow

Herb Spotlight - Motherwort - Sun God Medicinals

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Family: Malvaceae

Part Used: Root, Leaf

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet

Energetics: Moistening, Cooling


Herbal Actions: 

Demulcent, Nutritive, Anti inflammatory, Antibacterial, Antispasmodic Anticatarrhal, Diuretic, Expectorant, Carminative, Urinary tonic  

Overview:

Marshmallow is considered the traditional precursor to our modern day, beloved, confectionary creation- the marshmallow! Although the ancient Egyptians did not quite expect its popularity to flourish like it did, they certainly set the high bar for herbal-infused treats. Marshmallow has been utilized for its mucilaginous texture and healing properties alike, and has a laundry list of applicable uses still employed today.³

Botany:

Marshmallow grows as a lush perennial plant that thrives in wet, low lying places such as riverbanks and along the shoreline. It can grow to heights of 5 feet in ideal conditions, and blooms petite, yet fragrant, clusters of flowers amongst its velvety textured leaves.

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Marshmallow is naturalized in the United States, Europe, and in the marshier areas Australia, and is native to areas such as northern Africa, western and central Asia, China, and many parts of Europe. It is popularly cultivated for commerce in many countries, although restrictions have been put in place due to its scarcity. Marshmallow is now considered a threatened species, limiting its importation and exportation from many countries.  

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Marshmallow, and other species of this herb, grow throughout the Rogue Valley, producing elegant, fragrant flowers that attract pollinators far and wide to the area. It will commonly be found on the sandy shorelines, but can also be identified in sunny, open spaces and on the edges of wooded areas.  

History and Folklore:

Marshmallow has been utilized since ancient Greece, used by the Egyptians for a variety of ailment relief, and it was popularized in India through Ayurvedic practices. The leaf has been used to soothe irritated and inflamed tissues when applied as a poultice externally, and internally it was used as a gargle or rinse to treat a variety of respiratory upsets including dry coughs, sore throats, and infections. The root was traditionally used to address digestive system imbalances including an upset stomach and diarrhea. 

The entire Marshmallow plant is edible and contains therapeutic properties- the seed, flower, leaves, and root can all be added to dishes for a hint of herbal medicine in every bite.¹

Modern Applications:

Marshmallow leaf is indicated to support a variety of conditions including urinary tract infections, decrease overall systemic inflammation. It is indicated to remedy a variety of respiratory conditions², digestive disorders, and for both internal and external infections.4,5

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon of dried root, decocted for 15 minutes or overnight to release mucilage; 1 Tablespoon dry leaf per cup of water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

2-4 mL up to 4 times per day, and as needed for symptom relief.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Dosage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Precautions:

Marshmallow should be taken with at least 8oz of liquid, and all oral medications should be taken 1 hour before use or several hours after. Marshmallow may slow absorption. We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.

References:

  1. Althaea officinalis. (n.d). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/althaea.html 
  2. Fink, C., Kraft, K., Schmidt, M. (2018). Marshmallow Root Extract for the Treatment of Irritative Cough: Two Surveys on Users’ View on Effectiveness and Tolerability. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30064132 
  3. Marshmallow Leaf. (n.d.). www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/marshmallow-leaf/profile 
  4. Dadgar, Z., Davodian, E., Noori-Zadeh, A., Mesbah-Namin, SA., Rezaei, M. (March 5, 2015). Evaluation of the antibacterial activity of the ALthea offinalis L. leaf extracts and its wound healing potency in the rat model of excision wound creation. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25949951 
  5. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Marshmallowleaf.html  

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.