Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
The marshmallow root or leaf is the member of the Mallow family and it mainly grows in the moist soils of England, Denmark and throughout the central parts of Russia, as well as in parts of the Mediterranean region. It was also found in gardens of Northern America from where it moved to the salt marshes extending from Massachusetts to Virginia. The marshmallow root is more extensively found as compared to the leaves.
The marshmallow root is very thick. It is initially long and tapering but thickens with time. The roots are perennial in nature and extremely tough and flexible. Their color is whitish yellow on the outside and they are very fibrous from within.
History and Origin
The plant is native to Europe and parts of Asia. The marshmallow root has been in use since around 200 BC under the Greek name ‘Althea’, which actually means ‘to heal’. The Roman poet, Horace, claimed that the marshmallow root had laxative properties. It has been found in England and also in North America. The famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, claimed that the marshmallow root was of great use to effectively treat wounds. In medieval times an accused person was made to hold a red-hot iron bar to prove their innocence. It was believed that first smearing the palms with marshmallow root extract would actually help the person’s hands remain unburned.
For many centuries, marshmallow root has been used to effectively heal bruises and burns. It was also applied to areas where there were muscle aches and sprains and inflammations. The marshmallow root was considered to have properties that would help boost immunity. The tea made from the roots and leaves was also used as an expectorant in treating whooping cough and bronchitis.
The more modern day uses of marshmallow root include being used as a demulcent. The marshmallow root is said to soothe and soften inflamed gastric mucous membranes. It is also commonly used as a natural astringent. The marshmallow root has a binding effect and helps to keep a check on hemorrhages and coagulation of proteins. Marshmallow root also works as an expectorant; providing relief against bronchitis and irritating coughs and sore throats. It soothes the mucous membranes and it prevents lung congestion. It also solves the problem of water retention. The marshmallow root is said to increase the secretion and easy flow of urine and is a great diuretic. This helps prevent kidney problems. It also helps in bowel movements and provides relief against constipation as an effective laxative. The marshmallow root also helps to promote the flow of milk in women who are nursing.
Overall, the marshmallow root is not said to have any major side effects and is considered to be completely safe. Preparations of the marshmallow root are made using alcohol or sugar. Therefore it is necessary to be careful in case you have diabetes or liver problems. Pregnant women should completely abstain from the consumption of the marshmallow root in any form. Another side effect is that the marshmallow root is known to interfere with the absorption of other medicines and therefore it should be consumed an hour after the medicine is taken. As long as these precautions are followed, the marshmallow root will actually do more good than harm.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan