Marshmallow Benefits & Information

Latin Name

Althaea afficinalis

Also Known As

Marshmallow, althea, sweet weed, mallards, guimauve, mortification plant, schloss tea, wymote

Origin

Africa

Parts Used

Roots and leaves

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Marsh mallow is commonly used to relieve coughs, bronchitis and asthma, as well as gum and mouth irritations, sore throats, abdominal distress, vaginal irritations and skin wounds.

Marshmallow is chiefly known and used for its unique demulcent properties. As a demulcent it is an agent that forms a soothing film over mucous membranes, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane. 

So Marshmallow is indicated for use in conditions of pain and inflammation in the digestive tract and the mouth, throat and respiratory system. Two separate parts of the plant have been used traditionally, the roots have been used for digestive problems and on the skin, whilst it is the leaves that are used to treat lungs and the urinary system. However it is this coating, soothing and healing property that Marshmallow is known for, and it is the mucillage in the Marshmallow plant that has this action.

Typical Use

Making tea ( an infusion) from Marshmallow leaves:

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried marsh mallow leaves and flowers and cover; strain after 10 min. Drink 2 - 3 cups per day.

 
Making a decoction from the roots:

Let 1 tablespoon of dried marsh mallow root stand in 1 cup of cold water for 1 hr., stirring occasionally. Heat to a gentle boil; simmer, covered, for 10 min.

Remove from heat. Drink 2-3 cups a day after meals.

If you have bronchitis, add a touch of honey.

Folklore and History

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.

Marshmallow
Constituents

In the root:
Mucilage, l8-35%; consisting of a number of polysaccharides; one is composed of L-rhamnose, D-galactose, D-galacturonic acid and D-glucuronic acid in the ratio 3:2:3:3, another a highly branched L-arabifurranan, another a trisaccharide structural unit and one with a high proportion of uronic acid units.

Miscellaneous; about 35% pectin, l-2% asparagine, tannins.

 
In the leaves:
Mucilage; including a low molecular weight D-glucan

Flavanoids such a kaempferol, quercitin and diosmetin glucosides

Scopoletin, a coumarin
Polyphenolic acids, including syringic, caffeic, salicyclic, vanillic, p-coumaric etc.