Plant Parts Used
Root, leaf, flowers
Leaves: expectorant, diuretic, demulcent.
Root: demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, heals wounds.
Cool, moist, sweet.
Flowers: mucilage, flavonoids.
Leaves: mucilage, flavonoids, coumarin, salicylic and other phenolic acids.
Root: mucilage, polysaccharides, asparagin, tannins.
As its name suggests, Marshmallow originated in salty marshes, damp meadows and ditches, from Europe through into northern Asia; it has spread into America and Australia. It is a member of the Hollyhock family, and its similarity to other mallows is apparent.
The upright stems reach some three or four feet, and carry broad, pale-green leaves. They have between three and five lobes, toothed at the edges, and have an almost velvety feel due to the coverings of fine hairs. The flowers are a very pale pink, with five petals and the red stamens protruding in a tube shape. The roots are thick and long, greyish on the outside and white with long furrows inside.
The main medicinal actions of Marshmallow are:
- Irritation of the oral, pharyngeal, or gastric mucosa, dry cough;
- Gastric or peptic ulcer.
- Cystitis, urinary tract infections in general.
- Cystitis, urinary tract infections in general
- Topical treatment for varicose ulcers, wounds, burns
- Irritation of the oral, pharyngeal, or gastric mucosa, dry cough
- Bronchitis, respiratory tract catarrh;
- Cystitis, urethritis, urinary gravel or calculus
- Topical treatment for abscesses, boils, and ulcers
Syrup - Use a syrup made from the infusion as a cough expectorant.
Infusion - Use for bronchial and urinary disorders.
Decoction - For inflammations such is esophagitis and cystitis, use 25 g root to 1 litre water, and boil down to about 750 ml. This may need further dilution.
Tincture - Use for inflammations of the mucous membranes of the digestive and urinary systems.
Poultice - Use the root or a paste of the powdered root mixed with water for skin inflammations and ulcers.
Ointment - For wounds, skin ulceration, or to help draw splinters, melt 50 g anhydrous lanolin, 50 g beeswax and 300 g soft paraffin together, then heat 100 g powdered marshmallow root in these liquid fats for an hour over a waterbath. When cool, stir in 100 g powdered slippery elm bark.
If using the tincture for digestive or urinary disorders, use the hot-water method to reduce the alcohol.
None expected if taken within the recommended dose range.
- Bishop, O. & Bishop, A. (1994). New Zealand Wild Flowers Handbook Over 200 common varieties. Hong Kong: Hodder Headline PLC
- Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier
- Kowalchik, C. & Hylton, W. (1987). Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, USA: Schwartz Books
- Ody, P. (2000). The complete guide Medicinal Herbal. London: Dorling Kindersley
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