Herbal Profile: Marshmallow althaea officinalis | malvaceae
I fell in love with Marshmallow during my herbal apprenticeship and it has stayed near and dear to my herbal regimen during the summer months for nearly 12 years. With its cool and sweet properties it’s balancing for the pitta dosha. All three doshas; vata, pitta, and Kapha can use this herb to support many health ailments. During my studies I actually made edible marshmallows from the herbal root – much different and surprisingly better than the sweet candy we find in the stores! I also enjoy using this herb in my honey throat lozenges.
Marshmallow’s highest medicinal acclaim is as a demulcent. It contains large amounts of high-quality mucilage (to aid in water storage, membrane thickener, and food reserve) and is perhaps the best nutritive tonic herb (internally) and softening emollient (externally) in western herbalism. It is rejuvenative for Pitta, for the lungs and the kidneys, and also tonifies vata. It allays inflammation, soothes the skin and mucous membranes, and simultaneously cleanses and rebuilds the rasa dhata or the water element in the body. It promotes the healing of chronic sores and necrotic tissue. Internally it has a soothing effect on inflamed and irritated tissues of the alimentary canal (from mouth to colon), and urinary and respiratory organs. It works very well for urinary problems, it eases the passage of kidney stones and is used in combination with other diuretic herbs for kidney treatments which assist in the release of gravel and stones.
Marshmallow is good for treating the membranes, it makes a good antidote for respiratory challenges such as a cough, whooping cough, laryngitis, and bronchitis. It relieves the swelling and irritation of the mucous membranes and calms the respiratory system. As a lung tonic, it combines well with licorice and elecampane root. For allaying a cough it works well with thyme, basil, and oregano – add cinnamon for an anti-viral component!
This herb has been used for years as a wound healer and can be used externally as a poultice for skin eruptions and infections. It is used externally for varicose veins, skin abscesses, and dermatitis. I have used this in combination with slippery elm for a great paste for skin irritations, swelling, and inflammation.
This is always an herb I use with new mothers and can be helpful for mastitis (inflammation of the mammary, breast gland) and to increase a mother’s milk flow. This can also provide nourishment during PMS and menopause. As a rejuvenative it can be decocted in milk and a small amount of ginger. It’s high in calcium and vitamin A.
Make your children a natural sweet treat without all the chemicals, coloring, and preservatives which make our children hyperactive. My herbal studies were back in 2008 and we didn’t take pictures of our food like we do today, so I don’t have an image of these treats. However, this post inspired me to make them again. Picture coming this week!
1 TBSP of marshmallow root powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of water (divided)
1 cup honey
1/4 cup of arrowroot powder
Combine 1/2 C of water with the marshmallow root, mix well, and set aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, measure your arrowroot powder and set aside. Place your honey in a mixing bowl and bring the remaining 1/2 C of water to a boil. Add the boiling water to the honey and mix well with a hand mixer.
Add your arrowroot powder to the marshmallow root and combine it well.
Slowly with your hand mixer, add the arrowroot mixture to the honey mixture in small amounts, increasing the speed until it reaches high speed and it has formed a stiff cream-like consistency like marshmallow cream with soft peaks.
At this point you can add an optional 2 tsp of beetroot juice if you want pink marshmallows or elderberry syrup for a purple color with immune benefits.
Grease a 9×13 baking dish with coconut oil, ghee, or parchment paper. Spread the whipped marshmallow root across your dish leaving room on the sides of the dish so that you can pull it out easily. Let sit at room temperature (no refrigerator) for 4 hours or overnight.
Flip over onto a cutting board and cut with a pizza cutter or an oiled knife. Store in a container at room temperature and enjoy!
Honey Throat Lozenges
This is a great demulcent formula for sore throats, coughs, dryness in the throat. Its also a great way to give herbs to children, in small quantities. Image coming soon.
- 2 TBSP Marshmallow powder + additional for dusting (can also use slippery elm)
- 3 tsp Cardamom powder
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp honey
- 3 tsp water
Mix all the ingredients together. Press into a ball with a dough-like consistency. Roll the dough into small 1/4 tsp balls. Lightly coat the balls with a dusting of marshmallow root or slippery elm powder. You can store these in an air-tight container, in the refrigerator and use them when you or a family member have a cough or sore throat.
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