Latin name: Althaea officinalis
Common names: Marshmallow, marshmallow root, mortification root, sweet-weed and white mallow.
Althaea is really a generic name for marshmallow. The word althaea is derived from the Greek word “Altha” which means “to cure”. Althaea is part of the Malvaceae family. Althaea is a upright perennial that has velvety round to oval shaped leaves. It has a downy stem with a fleshy root.
Althaea produces pale pink flowers in the axils of summer. Althaea is native to Europe, Central Russia, North Africa, West Asia and it is widely naturalized in North America which produces white flowers instead of pale pink.
Althaea prefers damp conditions in the sun in which to grow. The parts of Althaea that are used in herbal medicine are the flowers, leaves and roots. The leaves are dried for infusions, liquid extracts and ointments. The roots are dried for liquid extracts, ointments and syrups. Althaea or Marshmallow is a sweet, mucilaginous herb that controls bacterial infections.
It has expectorant effects. It also soothes and softens tissues. The word “Malvaceae” comes from the Greek word “Malake”, meaning soft, which refers to the soft mucilaginous character of the herb. The Greek physician Hypocrites was an advocate for the use of althaea or marshmallow as a wound healer.
Althaea or Marshmallow has been used for hundreds of years in the treatment of wounds with wonderful results. Althaea is excellent for drawing out poisons and any debris in wounds when used as a poultice and it also shortens the healing time because of its ability to cleanse the wound by drawing out abilities according to ‘A Book of Herbs’ by Edith Foster. Althaea or marshmallow is used in many different formulas because of these abilities.
Althaea can be used for several types of healing. It is very soothing on any part of the body that maybe sore or inflamed. You can use a powdered marshmallow poultice anytime a poultice is needed. Powdered marshmallow has a high content of mucilage and starch which makes it excellent for drawing out and absorbing moisture.
Marshmallow is great for soothing and healing mucous membranes like the digestive tract, lungs and bowels because it is a mucilaginous calcium-rich herb. Marshmallow has been used as a food since ancient times. Marshmallow can be used by nursing mothers to enrich the milk and to increase the flow.
You can also combine Blessed Thistle and marshmallow to enrich a mother’s milk with nutrients. You can use marshmallow to regulate bowel activity and increase colonic flora because it works as a natural fiber. It aids the body with expelling excess fluid and mucus.
Marshmallow is used in combination with other diuretic herbs during kidney treatments to aid in the release or passing of stones. Marshmallow is of great value because of its non-astringent soothing effect. Marshmallow can be used externally to treat varicose veins, dermatitis and skin abscesses according to ‘Back to Eden’ by Jethro Kloss.
Marshmallow can be mixed with Cayenne and put into a poultice then used on infections such as gangrene and blood poisoning to help heal them. It can also be used to heal burns, bruises and wounds. Eating Marshmallow will help aid the body in cleansing toxins from the body as well aid in neutralizing toxins that create arthritis.
Marshmallow can be used to treat any of the following:
Allergies, asthma, bedwetting, bladder problems, boils, bowel problems, bronchial infections, burns, catarrh, constipation, coughs, cystitis, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, emphysema, enrich breast milk, enteritis, gangrene, gonorrhea, gravel, increase breast milk, inflammation, inflammation of eyes, irritated vagina, kidney problems, kidney stones, lactation, mouth infections, mucous membranes, nervous conditions, painful urination, pneumonia, septicemia, sore throat, stomach problems, teething, urinary tract inflammation, voice loss, whooping cough and wounds.