MARSHMALLOW - Althea officinalis

Althea, Althea, how your name rings to me-

Of days of old when your name meant to heal.

Have we forgotten your magical powers?

Your healing potential for all our ills?

As I gaze at your beauty….

Ahh! I remember now,

You’ll sooth my ailing parts and bring health to this poor old body.

If only I remember to listen!

Marshmallow is a ‘downy’ perennial weed, growing up to 7 feet tall. It has thick white roots, ovate/heart-shaped leaves and pale pink flowers. Miss Marshmallow likes damp soil as in ‘marsh’.

This weed is a soothing agent for inflammation of the mouth, stomach, intestines, kidneys and bladder. Having similar immune stimulant properties such as are found in Echinacea, it is a good anti-bacterial weed.

Marshmallow has a reputation has a soothing, healing plant- soothing all gastrointestinal disorders, as well as a condition known as ‘raw throat‘. It has demulcent, emollient, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and expectorant actions, therefore Marshmallow is used to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, catarrh, coughs, colds and all urinary tract infections.

When you think of Marshmallow- think SOOTHING along with healing. Soothing, because of its high mucilagenic properties.

Basically known for her soothing properties, Miss Marshmallow protects and soothes all mucous membranes. She is also mildly laxative and very beneficial for many digestion and intestinal problems, including regional ileitis, colitis, ulcers, hiatus hernia, diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.).

I particularly like to use Marshmallow (root) for all kidney and bladder infections. It’s a gentle and healing diuretic.

Marshmallow’s demulcent qualities will also bring relief to dry coughs, bronchial asthma, bronchial congestion, whooping cough and pleurisy. She is gentle and yet so effective! Guaranteed, you’ll just love this weed!

As for soothing, the flowers, crushed fresh or in a warm infusion and applied to inflamed skin will bring gentle relief. The root is used in ointments to treat both boils and abscesses.

If you have a baby who is teething, you might want to try this:

Peel a section of the fresh root, wash it clean and give it to the young ‘un’ as a ~chew-stick~- gentle and soothing relief!

Related species are Hollyhock (Althaea rosea) and the Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris). These can be used in the same manner as Marshmallow.

Marshmallow’s main healing properties are concentrated in the roots and this is what you would make your main medicine from. You’ll want to unearth the roots in autumn, scrub, dry and store them for later use.

The leaves, which are gathered in summer as the plant begins to flower, can be used as a warm infusion to treat cystitis and other urinary infections. Drink several times a day until the infection is gone.

You could grow this weed in any garden, just as you would the Hollyhock. She’s attractive and the bees and butterflies just love her too!

From Pages 111–112 – Do It Yourself Weed Medicine