Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Althea officinalis

NL: Echte heemst /
F: Guimauve sauvage

Marshmallow is a powerful medicinal herb that has been proven to soothe and heal inflammations an irritations in mucous membranes of the respiratory, urinary and digestive tract. That covers quite a lot of conditions: bronchitis, peptic ulcers, gastritis, cystitis, mouth and throat inflammations, etc.

All parts of the plant are edible and can be used medicinally.

Externally, as poultices or in creams, it promotes cellular healing. It is therefore employed in the treatment of skin inflammations, burns, insect bites, bruises, sprains... its fresh leaves can be lightly crushed between the fingers and rubbed into insect bites and stings to relieve itchiness and to reduce allergic reactions. It can be also infused in oil to be used after shower to keep skin’s health. Just a side note on this: our skin is our major “defense” organ, protecting our body against undesired organisms, so it is a good idea to treat our skin with a thin layer of (herbal) oil after shower.

Old time healers used marshmallow to prevent and heal degenerative conditions, including plagues, tuberculosis and blood losses. Dioscorides prescribed it to neutralize intoxication in the body: “The decoction of the roots and leaves helps all sorts of poison, so as the poison be presently voided by vomit”

The powder of the leaves or roots is used to help to drag pus and inflammatory liquids from gangrenous wounds, tumors, (painful) swellings, boils, abcesses. It is also used to draw out stings, splinters or thorns.

It has a cooling effect and it can help reduce hot flushes during the menopause. It also helps to boost milk production in lactating mothers.

Its demulcent and emollient properties make marshmallow a very popular supporting herb in formulas, as it combines well with many other herbs. The root powder is even used to bind with other medicinal herbs in pills and capsules.

Our ancestors used mallows also as a food source. Its richness in mucilage makes it not as palatable to everyone, so those who are less keen in slimy dishes might consider mixing it with other leafy vegetables, instead of using it pure.

Here are some interesting links to extra information on marshmallow:

Soothing Marshmallow & Marshmallow Infusion - Learning Herbs

Slimy and Sweet - a closer look at Marshmallow - Methow Valley Herbs

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) - Avena Botanicals

Marshmallow | University of Maryland Medical Center

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