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Marshmallow Plant


      Marshmallow:  Botanical name: Althea officinalis.  The marshmallow plant thrives in wet areas and grows primarily in marshes. Originally from Europe, it now grows in the United States as well. The root and leaves are used medicinally.

Marshmallow has been used in connection with asthma, the common cold/sore throat, cough, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), indigestion, abnormal pap smear, peptic ulcer, and ulcerative colitis.

Marshmallow (not to be confused with confectionery marshmallows) has long been used by herbalists to treat coughs and sore throats.  Due to its high mucilage content, this plant is soothing to inflamed mucous membranes. Marshmallow is also used by herbalists to soothe chapped skin, chilblains (sores caused by exposure to cold), and minor wounds.

Active constituents: Mucilage, made up of large carbohydrate (sugar) molecules, is though to be the active constituent in marshmallow. This smooth, slippery substance is believed to soothe and protect irritated mucous membranes. Marshmallow has primarily been used as a traditional herbal soothing agent for conditions of the respiratory and digestive tracts.

The German Commission E monograph suggests 1 1/4 teaspoon (6 grams) of the root per day. Marshmallow can be made into a hot or cold water tea. Often 2–3 teaspoons (10–15 grams) of the root and/or leaves are used per cup (250 ml) of water. Generally, a full day’s amount is steeped overnight when making a cold water tea, 6–9 teaspoons (30–45 grams) per three cups (750 ml) of water, or for fifteen to twenty minutes in hot water. Drink three to five cups (750–1250 ml) a day. Since the plant is so gooey, it does not combine well with other plants. Nevertheless, it can be found in some herbal cough syrups. Herbal extracts in capsules and tablets providing 5–6 grams of marshmallow per day can also be used, or it may be taken as a tincture—1–3 teaspoons (5–15 ml) three times daily.

Marshmallow is generally safe with only rare allergic reactions reported.  At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with marshmallow.

See a picture of the plant here

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