Marshmallow refers to a perennial herb indigenous all over damp areas of Western Asia and Northern Europe. It is now grown in USA, Atlantic coast, where its purple flowers and pointed foliage are widely utilized as an ornamental.
According to Homer’s Iliad publishing, various parts of marshmallow e.g. leaves has been used as for treating numerous diseases.
Besides being known as marshmallow, it has other names such as: Althaea, derived from Greek altho, which means to cure; Malvaceae, which means soft; Sweetweed; or Mortification Root. Marshmallow leaves were commonly used in ancient Greek medicine; however, its use extended from Greece to other parts such as India and Arabia, where it was considered vital in the Unani and Ayurvedic healing traditions, as a calming agent: diuretic, demulcent, vulnerary, and vulnerary.
Active ingredients include: starch, asparagines, flavonoids, mucilage, sucrose, pectin, volatile oil, 8-b-gentiobioside, tannins and phenolic acid.
A cold infusion prepared by combining marshmallow with small amount of peppermints is essential for relieving heartburn, inflamed intestines and peptic ulcers. According to Herbalist Paul Bergner, marshmallow roots acts an effective treatment for wounds found inside the digestive tract.
Marshmallow roots are used are useful in preparation of skin wash for cleansing burns and wounds and prevention of gangrene. Besides, King’s American Dispensary indicates that its root acts as an inflammatory agent when applied on swellings, tumors, burns, scalds, poisons, wounds and bruises. On the other hand, this an herb acts as a lubricant for certain body parts including urinary tract and the lungs, as indicated by a herbalist called Jim McDonald.
Marshmallow is also used for treating cold and flu especially during the cold season. It acts as a soothing agent for the inflamed sore throat, moisturizer for the lungs, and as a stimulant for Phagocytosis, a process essential in the immune system. Recent scientific research indicated that marshmallow is a very powerful anti-tussive herb.
Cream or ointment prepared using marshmallow leaves and flowers acts as an effective remedy for skin rashes, facial aching, leg ulcers, eruptions, repulsive-looking wounds and other skin problems.
Other medicinal uses of marshmallow include being used as a treatment for various urinary problems such as: bladder infections, cystitis and it is often used in home remedies for kidney stones.
According to research, mucilage contained in marshmallow safeguards and soothes body tissues especially during inflammation resulting from respiratory problems, bronchitis, dry cough and pleurisy. It also protects and heals various digestive tract ailments such as gastric inflammation and ulcers, both of which are responsible for causing tetchy bowel syndrome.
Marshmallow can be prepared in numerous forms for example, a cold infusion is prepared by adding lukewarm water on a quarter jar of marshmallow root and covering the jar with a tight lid for at least 4 hours until the color of the water changes to soft yellow. After this, the roots are strained to leave a viscous, thick liquid. The recommended dosage is a cup of infusion, three times in a day.
Ingestion of marshmallow can take place in different ways for example, through consumption of teat prepared using marshmallow leaves or roots 3-5 times in a day or taking tablets or capsules made form marshmallow extract, 6 grams daily. Alternatively, marshmallow may be ingested inform of a tincture, 5 to 15 ml three times in a day for effective results to be achieved. Other forms in which marshmallow may be ingested include: decoction, infusion, poultice, ointment or in syrup form.
According to numerous researches, there are no proven side effects associated with marshmallow; however, even though marshmallow is considered as important for treating diseases and strengthening the body, it may cause certain minor side effects as well as interact with other types of medications, herbs and supplements. For this reason, it is great care need to be taken during its consumption especially by pregnant or breastfeeding women. One study indicated that consumption of marshmallow is linked with low levels of blood sugar in individuals suffering from diabetes. Besides, marshmallow coats the stomach lining thereby inhibiting absorption of other herbs or drugs especially ant-diabetes and lithium drugs.