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 Health Benefits and Uses of Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

When most people think of marshmallow, they think of roasting fires and s’mores. Those marshmallows found in the store, however, have been processed so that there is very little of the plant (althaea officinalis) left. Much like a bag of licorice is very different from the licorice root, so too is marshmallow candy.

Health Benefits and Uses of Marshmallow

Marshmallow in its natural state is much more useful and healthy than its fluffy, store-bought cousin. Both the leaves and the root of the marshmallow plant are used medicinally. Below are just a few of the ways in which marshmallow can be used and the benefits that it offers.

1. Anti-inflammatory

Recent research suggests that marshmallow is useful in treating skin inflammation conditions such as acne, eczema, and contact dermatitis. It can be applied topically to treat other mild skin irritations.

2. Improves Digestion

Marshmallow is also used to regulate digestion and prevent issues such as heartburn and acid reflux. The same properties that allow marshmallow to soothe a sore throat allow for it to soothe the digestive tract, preventing ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, and more.

3. Soothes Sore Throats

Polysaccharides found in the leaves and roots of marshmallow have antibacterial and mucilaginous properties. This means that not only does marshmallow help fight the bug that is causing the sore throat, but that it actually provides pain relief. By ingesting marshmallow orally, the polysaccharides will soothe inflamed membranes in the throat and mouth. You will feel the herb leave a somewhat slimy coating on the throat, which provides relief from the pain.  Marshmallow also has antitussive properties, which prevents dry, hacking, painful coughs.

4. Immunity Support

Research has shown that marshmallow increases the amount of white blood cells in the body. These white blood cells are needed to fight off colds, flus, and other infections.

5. Blood Sugar Regulation

Science is beginning to realize the possible effects marshmallow may have on regulating blood sugar levels in the body. It has been used in studies as a successful natural alternative for blood sugar management in diabetic patients. Another study done on mice illustrated the blood sugar-lowering ability of the herb. Although more research needs to be done, the potential for marshmallow to aid diabetics and pre-diabetics in blood sugar management is promising.

6. Prevents Kidney Stones

Taking a marshmallow supplement can help prevent kidney stones, and may also help pass the stones less painfully. Marshmallow may also help regulate kidney function overall and can alleviate discomfort and burning when urinating.

7. “Drawing” Paste

Making a paste out of marshmallow and applying it to a splinter or bee sting will help draw out the culprit and therefore prevent infection and expedite the healing process.

How to Use Marshmallow

Portions of the marshmallow are used for medicinal purposes, and most commonly is the roots and leaves. These can be commonly found in tea, capsules, and tinctures, and the type of ailment that is being treated is directly linked to the dosage amount and form. Sore throats and dry coughs are often treated with tincture, generally about 1 to 2 teaspoons, two to three times per day. When treating for indigestion or ulcers, tea is the best solution.

Marshmallow tea can be purchased pre-made, or can be made using 2 to 5 teaspoons of dried leaves or powdered root, and boiling them in about 5 ounces of water. To render the most effective tea solution, prepare it using both dry leaves and powdered root. Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can be treated by taking six grams per day in capsule form.

The uses for marshmallow continue to be explored, and the future of marshmallow in medicine looks good. Generations have also used marshmallow to treat conditions such as diarrhea, arthritis, nausea, teeth whitening, and more. Work with an experienced herbalist to find out more about incorporating marshmallow into your life.

Caution

This is considered to be an herb that is very safe to use and has little to no side effects that have been reported with use. It may, however, cause a drop in blood sugar for some people, so those who have low blood sugar should check with their doctor or herbalist prior to using marshmallow.

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