Althaea Officinalis

Marshmallow, excellent expectorant, leaves used for healing bronchial and urinary disorders. Root, mucous membranes in gastritis, esophagitis, enteritis, peptic ulceration, entire plant for gangrene.  Originally,  marshmallows were made from the root sap of the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) plant.   It is a genus of herb that is native to parts of Europe, north Africa, and Asia.   Marsh mallows grow in marshes and other damp areas. The plant has a fleshy stem, leaves, and pale, five-petaled flowers.   The first marshmallows were made by boiling pieces of the marsh mallow root pulp with sugar until it thickened.   After it had thickened, the mixture was strained and cooled.   As far back as 2000 B.C., Egyptians combined the marsh mallow root with honey.   The candy was reserved for gods and royalty.

This plant actually has a very long medicinal history that starts with the Egyptians and moves to Charlemagne who promoted its cultivation in Europe.    Hypocrites used it as a wound healer.  Its generic name Althaea comes form the Greek Altho to heal and Malake 'soft' because of its special softening and healing qualities.  The Chinese, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Armenians, in times of famine or failure of their crops, subsisted on wild herbs, the Marshmallow being one of these.   

Use the flowers as an excellent expectorant in cough syrups.    The leaves of Marshmallow are used for healing bronchial and urinary disorders.    The Marshmallow root is for healing mucous membranes as in gastritis, esophagitis, enteritis, and peptic ulceration.     

Doctor John R. Christopher in his book 'Every Woman's Herbal' cites the case of one of his students who treated a woman who had burned one foot which had gone gangrene in the foot with infection to her knee.    She was advised at the hospital where she was being treated that the only cure was amputation at the ankle.  Under Doctor Christopher's advice the student prepared a tea using the entire Marshmallow plant and soaked the woman's leg in it at a temperature as hot as she could stand, then soaked in cold water and back into a fresh batch of tea throughout the day.    The next day the pain was gone.    They repeated the procedure and within 48 hours, the gangrene had left the ankle and foot.

Every part of the plant is used.   Astringent, Absorbent-soothing, Demulcent, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Galactagogue, Laxative, Lithotriptic, Mucilant, Nutritive, Tonic, Vulnerary.   Marshmallow will also increase flow and enrich nursing mothers milk.

Today Marshmallow is still known as a confectionary, as in the marshmallows we roast in campfires at picnics.    But they do not roast like they used to, read the label to see why.   The label on a bag of marshmallows today no longer lists any Marshmallow
. Today's marshmallows are mostly sugar.

Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; N.D., Woodland Publishing Incorporated, 1995
Nutritional Herbology, by Mark Pedersen, Wendell W. Whitman Company, 1998
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania 1987
The Ultimate Healing System, Course Manual, Copyright 1985, Don Lepore
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., Lotus Press, 1988





Important Note:
The information presented herein by The Natural Path Botanicals is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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