By Kim Balas
Originally, the marshmallow plant was a native of specific regions of Europe
and Asia but now can be found in areas of the United States as well and has been
used for healing for over 2500 years. The scientific name for marshmallow is
Althaea officinalis. Althos in Greek means to heal, and the plant was called
"the official healer." The Romans and the
Egyptians ate the root as a vegetable, the poor in Syria use the marshmallow
root for food and in the Bible, it was the food of choice in times of famine.
Marshmallow grows in damp, wet areas including meadows and marshes. By just
looking at where a plant grows gives us a good idea of the plant’s signature and
properties: “wet and damp”. The leaves of the marshmallow plant as well as the
root are used as medicine.
Marshmallow leaves are of a slightly different chemical makeup than the root.
They contain flavonoids including kaempferol, quercetin, and diosmetin
glucosides; additionally, the leaves contain the coumarin scopoletin and
phenolic acids including syringic acid, caffeic acid, salicylic acid, and
vanillic acid. The root and the leaf of the plant both contain a substance known
as a mucilate. This mucusy substance does not dissolve in water. When wet it
swells and becomes very slippery. Marshmallow increases the production of the
body’s mucosal fluids. This soothing action is very helpful with any condition
that is irritated or chapped and works to sooth inflamed tissues. The root and
leaves of the plant are used medicinally. Marshmallow has been used for many to
relieve coughs and sore throats, as well as for chapped skin and minor wounds.
One of the most famous uses of this herb was used in a “drawing paste”. When
applied to a splinter, thorn or bee sting, it would draw out the offender and
speed healing. If the skin is red, has a splinter/sting or irritated, you can
apply crushed marshmallow to it and increase healing
Marshmallow helps to lessen heartburn and intestinal conditions, such as ulcers,
irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation. This slimy herb helps to coat and
protect irritated mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal
tract. British health authorities consider marshmallow root preparations safe
and effective for soothing ulcers along the digestive tract.
Marshmallow is also believed to have an ability to fight infection and boost the
immune system. Recent research shows that marshmallow increases white blood
cells and used for the treatment of colds, hoarseness, diarrhea and dysentary.
It has also been used for
reduction of high blood sugar levels in the body. According to studies in mice,
marshmallow lowered blood sugar levels. More studies are needed to conclude that
it does lower blood sugar levels in humans.
Marshmallow can be used as a suppository for hemorrhoids, made into a tea and
gargled for dry mouth and throat irritations, used externally as a poultice to
heal minor skin irritations, for dry cough, and taken orally combined with
blessed thistle for nursing mothers. Marshmallow is very helpful in times of
burning urination, inflamed kidneys and kidney stones. Marshmallow reduces
inflammation and pain and when taking 2 capsules every hour with copious amounts
of water helps to ease the passing of kidney stones.
Below is a list of conditions that marshmallow is helpful for:
• Antidote to poisons
• Bee stings
• Common cold/sore throat
• Crohn's disease
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
• Peptic ulcer
• Sore Throat
• Tooth Ache
• Urinary tract infections
• Ulcerative colitis
• Whitening agent (teeth)
• Wound healing
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