Marshmallow flowers, leaves, and roots are used in the treatment of everything from coughs to ulcers. Marshmallow is a good remedy for inflamed mucus membranes, peptic ulcers, gastritis, urinary problems, bladder infections, sore throats, colds, headaches, muscle pain, wheezing, asthma, burns, boils, skin ulcerations, fluid retention, diarrhea, mouth sores, varicose veins, and chapped skin.
Take marshmallow tea for the intestines and urinary tract. Drink four or five cups a day. Marshmallow, which contains large amounts of mucilage, has amazing soothing and healing properties. (Mucilage is an indigestible complex sugar that coats, cools, and moisturizes inflamed tissues.)
Marshmallow also contains complex carbohydrate molecules that benefit the respiratory system. The herb is used in many lung preparations and cough syrups to relieve dry, hacking coughs, whooping coughs, and laryngitis. It also helps to loosen phlegm and helps make coughing less painful and more productive.
Marshmallow is also good for relieving pain. The plant contains salicylic acid (the natural forerunner of synthetic aspirin), and is recommended for treating muscle pain and tension headaches.
Marshmallow roots may be boiled, mashed, and made into a poultice. Apply to burns, boils, skin ulcers, chapped skin, and other rashes for a soothing remedy that helps speed healing. Used externally, marshmallow root may also be used in an ointment to soften and soothe skin and dry hands. The mucilage protects damaged, irritated skin so it can heal more quickly.
In centuries past, marshmallow root was made into a royal dessert. The tasty treat was called “Pate de Guimauve” and included a foaming mix of sugar, egg whites, and ground marshmallow root. The resulting spongy concoction was greatly enjoyed by the French court. In modern times, Kraft Foods developed the “JetPuff” technique where sticky gelatin was combined with sugar, concentrated to almost the caramel stage, and whipped to incorporate large amounts of air bubbles. Unfortunately, today’s candy type “Marshmallow” doesn’t contain even a pinch of the actual herb.
Fresh marshmallow flowers are sweet and tasty. Pick and eat them right from the garden or meadow. Marshmallow leaves make one of the best green vegetables of any wild plant. (They become tender very quickly so don’t overcook.) The nutritious leaves also make good additions to soups and stews.
Marshmallow is related to the popular flower known as hollyhock. The marshmallow plant loves water and will grow in soggy soil including swampy marshes. The perennial plants bear hibiscus-like pink, white, or purple blossoms and may grow to a height of six feet. They look striking in the back of a flower border.
Originally from Europe, marshmallows now grow wild in parts of the western United States. Marshmallows are sometimes grown in the home garden. Plant seeds in a damp, sunny place for best results.
*Internal use of marshmallow can slow the absorption rate of other medicines. Otherwise, the herb is considered very safe for external and internal use. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially when pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.
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