Marshmallow leaf tincture has been used for coughs and irritated throats for thousands of years, with the oldest known recorded use dating back to the 9th Century BC! Its Latin name holds a clue into how highly regarded this plant has been - the word Althaea comes from the Greek work altho, which means “to cure”.
Marshmallow contains asparagine, a valuable amino acid, and high levels of vitamin A. Marshmallow can also potentiate the healing actions of other herbs.
Pharmaceutical anti-tussives, such as dextromethorphan - commonly found in cough medicines such as Benylin, Robitussin, and Vicks - work by affecting a signal in the brain which tells the coughing reflex to turn off. While this can help in the short-term, these medicines are not suitable for long-term use - people with chronic issues such as bronchitis, asthma, or emphysema. This is because coughing is actually a protective mechanism in the body - your body is trying to expel something that shouldn’t be in there.
Marshmallow leaf works differently because its effects are much more local. It contains high levels of mucilage, which is essentially a soothing, cooling goo that coats and protects the mucous membranes. It reduces inflammation in sore and irritated throats.
Marshmallow is an anti-tussive, so it calms the coughing reflex. This means it is not shutting off a necessary process (coughing), but is actually helping to get rid of the source of the cough - the inflammation. This soothing, anti-inflammatory action means that Marshmallow is great for chronic conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, smoker’s cough, or emphysema.
It is super effective in dry, hacking coughs, but is also great for a wet, productive cough. Whenever you can’t stop coughing, Marshmallow should be your treatment of choice.
Marshmallow is a great plant medicine for children because it is effective, soothing, and has an excellent safety record - almost 3000 years of medicinal use can’t be wrong!
Because of Marshmallow’s soothing, anti-inflammatory actions, it is also a great plant for the digestive tract. Conditions such as gastritis, colitis indigestion, heartburn, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease all benefit from this plant. In the same way, marshmallow assists in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
Marshmallow can be called to soothe irritated skin and conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. It is an effective emollient, meaning that it coats and protects the skin, reducing inflammation and allowing healing to occur. It is used as a wash or added to creams for eczema and psoriasis.
Known throughout the ancient Egyptian, Arab, Greek, and Roman cultures, this herb has been used continually for at least 2000 years. In traditional folk practices it was given to soothe and moisten mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts, and also as an external poultice.
However, while concoctions of all parts of the Marsh mallow plant have been used as medicine, a traditional use of the plant can be found in old recipes: Stems of marsh mallow were peeled to reveal the soft and spongy pith. This pith was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produced a soft, chewy confection. Commercial marshmallows are a late-nineteenth-century innovation, which was a development of a well used recipe from the old days using the Marsh mallow plant itself. This plant has been used in beverages, desserts, candies, cosmetic creams, and was the "root" of the original marshmallow confectionery.
Marshmallow was once thought to have influence where affairs of the heart were concerned. A bouquet of the leaves left on the grave of a loved one was believed to ensure a safe journey to the next world, while a bunch placed on a windowsill of the home would guarantee the return of a lover gone astray.
Most of the mallows are considered edible and have been used as a food source. The Romans considered a dish of mallow a delicacy. Further, the 16th century Italian physician and botanist, Prosper Alpinus, reported that the Egyptians also ate mallow. Mallow was boiled and fried with onions and butter in the Arabic speaking countries of the middle east and Asia in times of famine or crop failure. The use of the herb spread from Greece to Arabia and India, where it became an important herb in the Ayurvedic and Unani healing tradition. In Ayurveda, the root was used to reduce vata (dry constitutional type) and increase kapha (wet constitutional type) and was considered to be energetically cold, sweet tasting, and moistening.
Common Names: Marshmallow, althea, sweet weed, mallards, guimauve, mortification plant, schloss tea, wymote, Mallow, white mallow, common marshmallow, malvavisco, hatmi, iviscus, ghasul, khitmi, khatmah, usubeni-tati-aoi
Dosage: Dosage: 20-30 drops, 3 times a day.
Precaution: Because it coats the lining of the stomach, marshmallow may interfere with the absorption of other drugs or herbs. For this reason, it is important to take marshmallow several hours before or after taking other herbs or medications.
FDA Disclaimer: These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.
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