Found growing in abundance in moist and wet places all over the world, marshmallow is a perennial aromatic herb that is sometimes found to grow up to four feet in height. While the herb can be found growing in plenty in the wild, it is also cultivated commercially for medicinal use. The root of the plant is white in color and tastes sweet similar to the parsnip (a long tapering cream-colored root cooked and consumed as a vegetable). However, unlike the parsnip, marshmallow roots contain plenty of mucilage (a gummy substance secreted by some plants containing protein and carbohydrates). The plant has numerous branchless stems that are wooly or covered with long, soft, white hairs. The marshmallow stems bear serrate (edged with indentations or with projections that resemble the teeth of a saw) and pubescent (covered with down or fine hair) leaves. The flowers of the herb are approximately two inches in width and they may be found in white, light red or royal purple colors.
Ointment or cream prepared with marshmallow leaves and elderflowers is an excellent remedy to cure facial aching, skin rashes or eruptions, leg ulcers and repulsive-looking wounds more rapidly. To prepare the useful ointment, first gently mash about one gallon of fresh marshmallow leaves and mature flowers each. Next, spread out the mashed leaves and flowers uniformly in a big roast pan and add approximately two-and-one-fourth cups of liquefied lard and one-and-a-half pounds of beeswax. Blend and beat the ingredients systematically with a wooden serving spoon, cover the pan and allow the ingredients to simmer or boil on an oven in 150° F. Continue simmering the ingredients until the herbs are reasonably crunchy and crush when touched. Then drain out the liquid mixture using a wire net strainer and keep on stirring the liquid with a wooden ladle until it is completely cold. Once the mixture has cooled, you may add half a cup of glycerin or 2/3 cup of pulverized slippery elm to preserve the ointment. Next, pour the ointment into clean jars or containers while it is still fairly warm and let it become firm to some extent. Seal the jars with air-tight lids and store the ointment in a cool and dry place till it is required for use.
Root, leaves, flowers.
Researchers over the years have shown that marshmallow has numerous medicinal benefits, particularly in safeguarding and soothing the mucous membranes. The roots of the herb are effective in counteracting additional stomach acid, peptic ulcers as well as gastritis. In addition, marshmallow has moderate laxative (a substance used to promote bowel movements) properties and hence is helpful in healing several problems of the intestines, including colitis, ileitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulitis. Ingesting warm infusion of marshmallow leaves is effectual in curing cystitis as well as frequent urination. The demulcent (soothing irritated or inflamed skin or mucous membranes) properties of marshmallow offer respite from dry coughs, bronchial asthma, bronchial congestion or jamming of the bronchioles and even pleurisy. One may apply crushed fresh marshmallow flowers or a warm infusion prepared from the herb’s flowers to comfort the inflammatory (irritating and swelled) skin. On the other hand, marshmallow roots form a crucial ingredient of an ointment or cream that effectually cures boils and abscesses. The roots are also used in mouthwash for treating inflammation. In addition, peeled fresh roots of marshmallow can be given as a chew stick to teething infants.
Although the marshmallow is indigenous to Europe, over the years, the herb has acclimatized itself in the Americas where it is now commercially cultivated for medical use. Usually, marshmallow grows best in marshy lands. The above-ground parts of the plants are collected in summer when they just begin to blossom. On the other hand, the marshmallow roots are dug out or harvested during the autumn.
Marshmallow root contains about 37% starch, 11% mucilage, 11% pectin, flavonoids, phenol acids, sucrose, and asparagine.
Marshmallow can be ingested in various ways. One may consume a tea prepared with marshmallow both hot or cold. In order to prepare tea with marshmallow, add the herb’s roots and/ or leaves to cold or hot water and allow it to steep for some time. You may drink the tea three to five times every day. Extracts of the herb are also available in capsule and tablet forms. One may use these tablets or capsules that provide five to six grams of marshmallow daily. As an alternative, it may also be ingested as a tincture. Taking five to fifteen ml of marshmallow tincture three times every day is effective to cure several disorders.
Researchers over the years have not found any side-effects of marshmallow application. The herb has been reported safe for use.
What the mucilage presents in the marshmallow is the primary component that not only safeguards the body tissues but also soothes them during inflammation. While it is an established fact that marshmallow is extremely useful in soothing inflammations in conditions such as bronchitis, pleurisy, even dry cough and other respiratory problems since ages the herb has also been used to protect and heal the digestive system. It is particularly useful in curing digestive system disorders such as ulcers and gastric inflammation which often lead to tetchy bowel syndrome and other symptoms. Marshmallow and its extracts are used in the urinary system to comfort the aggravated tissues in urinary tract infections like cystitis. A poultice prepared with marshmallow leaves and roots may be applied externally to heal skin problems like ulcers and boils. In fact, the herb has a double action – it soothes the irritation as well as heals the disorder.
The marshmallow face mask is also apt for sensitive skin and the ingredients required to prepare it to include:
Blend the marshmallow infusion and the yogurt and add the oatmeal. Stir the mixture thoroughly to prepare a paste. Apply this mixture uniformly and gently to your face.
3 cups distilled water (purified will work in a pinch)
2 tablespoons marshmallow root
1 tablespoon horsetail
1 tablespoon oat straw
1 cup aloe vera juice (or so, read directions)
10-30 drops essential oil *optional