MARSHMALLOW (Althaea officinalis)

Family: Malvaceae

Parts commonly used: Root and leaf.

Properties/energetics: Demulcent, diuretic, nutritive tonic, emollient, vulnerary. Mild immunostimulant, galactagogue/Cool, moist; sweet, bland.

Systems predominantly affected:  Digestive, urinary, respiratory, musculoskeletal, skin.

Uses: Marshmallow is high in mucopolysaccharides and when prepared as a cold infusion makes a slimy, mucilaginous drink very useful for protecting dry, inflamed mucous membranes of the throat and digestive tract. It supplies an abundance of vegetable mucilage and easily assimilated calcium, making it a commanding anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant for the entire gastrointestinal system. It is used extensively for stomach inflammation, heartburn, and gastric, peptic, or duodenal ulcers, as well as inflammatory bowel disease. It’s unclear how it works on the mucous membranes of the respiratory and urinary tracts, but empirical observation strongly suggests that it does, and dryness of the lungs and burning or irritated urinary tracts both benefit from this action. Marshmallow’s demulcent action is valuable for lung ailments, respiratory catarrh, and coughs. The polysaccharides also mildly stimulate immune function, making Marshmallow the soothing diuretic of choice for the early onset of urinary-tract infections and for full-on urinary-tract infections with burning urgency and frequency. Used in combination with other diuretic herbs, Marshmallow is effective for treating kidney stones and gravel. It is also used as an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory for the joints. Applied as a poultice, it is effective for treating blood poisoning, gangrene, septic wounds, burns, and bruises. It truly is a cure-all.

Combinations: Combines well with White Horehound and/or a little Lobelia for coughs, and with Comfrey for treating peptic ulcer. Combines with Parsley root and Hydrangea as a tea for kidney stones and gravel. A cold infusion of Marshmallow with Licorice, Chamomile, and Cinnamon manifests an exceptional carminative demulcent to comfort the intestines and the stomach. A gentle immunostimulant glycerite for children combines Marshmallow with Fennel, Catnip, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile macerated in glycerin and water.

Affects on specific body types: Marshmallow works well for both the Seer and Warrior constitutions. In the case of the Seer, it helps lubricate the chronically dry mucous membranes, and it can help Warriors with the inflammation and irritation associated with excess stomach acid, acidic urine, and so forth.

Preparations/dosage: Harvest the second-year root. Infusion: cold infusion, 1 cup three times a day. Decoction: Boil the powdered root in milk and drink freely for urinary-organ hemorrhaging, diarrhea, or dysentery. Tincture: 15 to 40 drops three times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition