Marshmallow or Althaea officinalis is a perennial plant that is distinct from tree mallows through its calyx that numbers more than 6 bracts.

This medicinal plant belongs to the Malvaceae family, it is native to the Asian steppes and Southern France.

> Gardening: how to grow marshmallow

Marshmallow, a short story

The soothing virtues of marshmallow have been recorded since ancient times. Theophrastus used it in honey-sweetened wine to treat cough.

Health benefits of marshmallow

Whether one talks of the root, the flowers or the leaves of the plant, marshmallow is always emollient and moisturizing.

It can be used on a daily basis to soothe irritation and inflammation: throat, respiratory tract, bladder, mouth and intestines (enteritis) and generally all types of mucous membranes and tissues. Marshmallow is a light laxative, so it is effective in case of constipation. Marshmallow flowers are classified as among the “expectorant” plant species.

> As for topical use, you may use marshmallow for all cutaneous inflammations. It can be applied to insect bites and ulcers, too.

Did you know…?

> Ingestion:

Infusion or maceration of marshmallow root: cold water, 0.7 oz (20 g) roots for 1 quart (1 liter). Leaves or flowers can be infused as well, the same proportions are applicable. Feel free to blend flowers, leaves and roots. Ingest 3 cups a day. Against irritations and inflammations.

Marshmallow syrup: prepare from a root decoction 0.5 to 0.7 oz (15 to 20 g) of roots per half-quart (half-liter) water, to which 35 oz (1 kg) sugar should be added. Against cough.

> External use:

Concentrated marshmallow decoction: 1 to 1½ oz (30 to 50 g) for 1 quart (1 liter) water, boil for 15 minutes. This decoction can be used for gargling, mouthwash, cleansing the body, injection, enemas, compress and seat baths. When powdered, it soothes sensitive, dry and patchy skin, and also decongests rosacea.

Properties of marshmallow

Marshmallow, especially its root, has high levels of mucilage. It is also antitussive, expectorant and soothing. It is used as a cough syrup or eye lotion…

What about the marshmallows we eat as a treat?

It doesn’t have much in common with medicinal marshmallow. At the start, it was baked with a decoction of marshmallow root… Today, all that is used is egg whites, sugar syrup and gelatin, and a host of not-so-natural flavors and coloring agents!

A few synonyms of “marshmallow” to shine…

Marshmallow is also called “medicinal marshmallow”.

Blandine Merlin

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