Smores Anyone? Or Maybe Not...
Marshmallow, botanically known as Althaea officinalis, or Althea for short, has a long history in our materia medica. The generic name “Althaea” comes from the Greek work “altho” which means “to cure”. The family name “Malvaceae” comes from the Greek work “malake” or “soft”. It was promoted by Greek Physician Hypocrites as a wound healer because of its various properties, which we will cover below.
We use the roots (most popular), leaves and flowers in Teas, tinctures, powders, gruels and poultices. Back in the day, marshmallow was also a wonderfully sweet treat for families that crossed the planes during the Mormon trek of the early to mid 1800’s and also during times of famine (Job 30:3-4). What we find in the baking or candy aisle today has absolutely no connection to the herb other than the name itself.
So what was Hypocrites referring to when he promoted Marshmallow? The therapeutic Actions of this amazing plant are:
- Demulcent – the slime factor & highest medicinal claim.
- Expectorant – helps the lungs to bring up mucus
- Antitussive – prevents or alleviates a cough
- Antiseptic – prevents the growth of microbes
- Anti-inflammatory – prevents or alleviates inflammation in various parts of the body
- Analgesic – relives pain
- Immune stimulant – stimulates the immune system
- Diuretic – increases urine production – drink your water to prevent dehydration
- Vulnerary – promotes would healing
- Galactagogue – promotes milk flow in conjunction with other herbs
To help us understand what this list means, let’s look at Cold and Flu season. Marshmallow is very popular and commonly used during this time of year due to its anti-inflammatory properties that we mentioned earlier. The roots sooths the sore throats and is one of our go-to’s for formulas like our Throat Soothers Tea
Marshmallow’s expectorant qualities, its ability to pull the mucus up from the lungs, is why we’ve added it to our Breathe Ease Tea
Now, changing tracts (pun intended) let’s look at the Digestive System. When it comes to the Digestive system, I like to use marshmallow in powder form followed by tea and tincture. Most people aren’t used to used powders but they are easy to add into smoothies, apple sauce, yogurts, anything with a softer consistency. I mix it with other herbs in our IBS digestive powder so that additional GI issues can be addressed at the same time. If you are familiar with Robert’s Formula then you’ll find marshmallow in its tincture form
Taking it to a different level? Marshmallow is one of the plants/herbs that would be considered a healing food. It does so much for the body and the roots are especially high in nutrients. The leaves and flowers can also be added to salads and soups, similar to spring mix of sorts.
Another little tid-bit is using marshmallow for milk production. It’s galactagogue properties are why we have it in our Mother’s Milk Tincture Formula.
Caution: Now don’t get crazy with marshmallow, or really any herb. Our diets play a huge role in our health and should be our starting point. Think nutrient density, fiber, water and physical exercise.
Each of us has a different story so our current health depends on the person and the situation. If you have a lot of health issues, ask your ND, Herbalist or practitioner about using Myrrh or other herbs you are unsure of. They will be able to guide you in this.
*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.