Althaea officinalis or Malalow is one of the most commonly used herbs because of its availability, you can find it just about anywhere. Marshmallows were once made from mallow root before the jet puffed variety came about. Here is a recipe I plan on trying this summer to make our own marshmallows!
The whole plant is edible. Flowers make a bright addition to salads, the leaves and seeds are edible, and the root can be added to casseroles and stews. The most commonly used part of the plant for medicinal purposes is the root.
Mallow has soothing, softening, and calming properties. It reduces inflammation and swelling. It has a high mucilage content making it an excellent emollient when used externally. When used internally it is soothing, relaxing, and has protective properties that make it useful for healing inflamed or irritated mucous membranes. The root is used to treat all inflammatory conditions of the GI tract. The leaves are diuretic, expectorant and anti-inflammatory making them wonderful to use for dry lungs or burning or irritated urinary tract.
It is also good at stimulating the immune system. This must have been herbal wisdom passed down through the ages. Pliny the Elder (an ancient Roman naturalist) said: “Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the Mallow shall that day be free from disease that may come to him.”
Marsh Mallow is used to treat sore throat, bronchitis, whooping cough, allergies, and dry lung. It is also used to treat diarrhea, indigestion, peptic ulcers, mouth ulcers, colitis, enteritis, chrones disease, irritable bowl syndrome(IBS), and Gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD). Topically it is used to treat cuts, scrapes, wounds, eczema, psoriasis, pink eye, boils, and bodily abscesses.
There is also some herbal folklore that marshmallow root tea rubbed on an infants gums can help with teething pain. Some European cultures give infants marshmallow root to chew on to ease teething pain.
Potential Side Effects of Marshmallow Root
Althea has little to no known levels of toxicity and is commonly considered to be completely safe. Marshmallow liquid preparations may include the use of sugar and/or alcohol. Exercise caution when using these preparations if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease. As is usually the case, no studies have been done about safety while breastfeeding or pregnant. The books I have indicate that it is safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding but use caution and do your own research. I personally used Marshmallow throughout my pregnancy and while breast feeding with no ill effects. Marshmallow folk lore says it can be used to increase breast milk production and is being studied in laboratories for this use but these have not been published yet.
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How do you use Marshmallow root? Have you tried home made marshmallows?
As always this is not intended as medical advice. This is an educational series. I encourage you to go out and do your own research on this wonderful herb and take your health and wellness into your own hands. Be sure to let your medical care provider know the herbs or supplements you are taking before beginning a new course of treatment.
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