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Marshmallow - Althaea officinalis

Has been used to treat constipation as well as irritable bowel syndrome. Externally the root is used in treating varicose veins, ulcers, abscesses, and boils.

The leaves, which are collected in summer as the plant begins to flower, have demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, and emollient properties. Marshmallow preparations are recognized for their ability to soothe and soften irritated tissue, particularly mucous membranes, and to loosen a cough.

It is generally used in ailments of the lungs and the urinary systems, specifically in urethritis and kidney stones. The root, which is harvested in late autumn, has demulcent, diuretic, emollient, and vulnerary properties. It is generally used for digestive and skin problems, specifically inflammations of the mouth, gastritis, peptic ulcer, enteritis, and colitis. It increases the flow of breast milk and soothes the bronchial tubes. It has been used to treat constipation as well as irritable bowel syndrome. Externally the root is used in treating varicose veins, ulcers, abscesses, and boils. The root extract (halawa extract) is sometimes used as flavouring in the making of a middle eastern snack called halva.

The great demulcent and emollient properties of Marsh Mallow make it useful in Inflammation and irritation of the alimentary canal, and of the urinary and respiratory organs. The dry roots boiled in water give out half their weight of a gummy matter like starch. Decoctions of the plant, especially of the root, are very useful where the natural mucus has been abraded from the coats of the intestines, The decoction can be made by adding 5 pints of water to 1/4 lb. of dried root, boiling down to 3 pints and straining: it should not be made too thick and viscid. It is excellent in painful complaints of the urinary organs, exerting a relaxing effect upon the passages, as well as acting curatively. This decoction is also effective in curing bruises, sprains or any ache in the muscles or sinews.

The common Mallow is frequently called by country people 'Marsh Mallow,' but the true Marsh Mallow is distinguished from all the other Mallows growing in Great Britain, by the numerous divisions of the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which thickly clothes the stems and foliage, and by the numerous panicles of blush-coloured flowers, paler than the Common Mallow. The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant, whitish yellow outside, white and fibrous within. The whole plant, particularly the root, abounds with a mild mucilage, which is emollient to a much greater degree than the common Mallow. The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek altho (to cure), from its healing properties. The name of the family, Malvaceae, is derived from the Greek malake (soft), from the special qualities of the Mallows in softening and healing.

The mucilagin in marshmallow may absorb and hence reduce the action of drugs taken at the same time. In Germany marshmallow syrups (which are high in sugar) must be labeled as to sugar content so diabetics may be forewarned. Side effects are not reported
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.