Ahhh the hint of fall is everywhere, I’ve been reaching for my chai teas and sweaters a little too much lately. only to then get upended by a warm burst of weather incoming.
For me the first wave of illness is what really signifies the shift in season. One of my personal tell tale signs is an annoying tickle in my throat that just won’t go away even with copious amounts of tea and honey. It takes at least a day for it to dawn on me that it is time for Marshmallow.
Whenever my clients or I have a tickle in the throat or a feeling of dryness in the throat or mouth one of my goto’s is marshmallow root. The versatility of any one plant still astounds me day and this demure wunderkind is a spotlight for sure.
I can imagine it's hard being inflammatory whiz kid. She makes it simple to help yourself and help others on feeling better and soothed if you will. On a plant spirit level, think comfort, marshmallow is the friend that is always there when you need her, to soothe, to comfort and to give relief to what ails you.
For me my own personal herbal routine shifts from season to season and I add marshmallow straight away. But not as a topper to my hot cocoa or the gushy sweet in my smore’s sandwich but as a plant that has a full history of being touted and know for its medicinal properties, whether it be a well known candy or not. Click below to find out all the GOODNESS that marshmallow provides. And then let me know if you want some!
According to wikipedia history of the marshmallow, because it is kinda fascinating how long this plant has been around:
“The word "marshmallow" comes from the mallow plant species (Althaea officinalis), an herb native to parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia which grows in marshes and other damp areas. The plant's stem and leaves are fleshy and its white flower has five petals. It is not known exactly when marshmallows were invented, but their history goes back as early as 2000 B.C. Ancient Egyptians were said to be the first to make them and eating them was a privilege strictly reserved for gods and for royalty, who used the root of the plant and to soothe coughs and sore throats, and to heal wounds. The first marshmallows were prepared by boiling pieces of root pulp with honey until thick. Once thickened, the mixture was strained, cooled, and then used as intended.”
(google how to make homemade marshmallows)
I love pointing out, common mallow, on my seasonal plant ID walks and having the participants taste a leaf or flower(great for foraged salads) it’s mild flavor and slightly slippery aka demulcent qualities often brings a wow factor for it’s healing and soothing properties.
Being a slippery herb (demulcent) with lots of mucilage it main job is to heal by coating and soothing any inflammation that is on a mucous membrane. So for folks that have what I consider a “hot” digestive complaint say reflux, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, heartburn or ulcers the first thing we look at is adding marshmallow root as a cold infusion to coat and soothe. The magic of mending or healing with marshmallows comes by the coating of the digestive tract all the way from the start of your mouth to your bottom, it’s your alimentary canal from top to bottom. I think you might get the picture at least I hope so!
I also love marshmallow for that tickly DRY cough that comes when we turn on our stoves and heat at the turn of the season. It’s for those spasmodic coughs and sore throats with that come with the season. It’s going to help with the inflammation and “coughing fits” from bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis and pleurisy, like taking a paintbrush to the lungs it soothes and coats, soothes and coats.
It’s especially helpful right now with all the irritants that are out in the air, the ghastly pollen, mold, mildew, ragwort is binding people up right now. So marshmallow is used typically for allergic rhinitis that has a strong mucus component aka yellow or green. I’ll make a quart of medicinal infusion(like a tea) with marshmallow and other immune building herbs like echinacea, elderflower and thyme to make a tea that you can drink to relieve your symptoms but also increase your immunity in the future. Allergies are one of those ailments that you have to find the right combo for your body and then stick with it - so this might not work for those who have just the sneezing and not the mucus.
One of it’s lesser known uses is for skin for inflammation or wounds -- I actually am experimenting with a new facial product using marshmallow leaves and flowers infused in to soothe the redness out of skin such as psoriasis, eczema and rosacea. I would combine it with honey as a wound healer.
It’s cooling nature helps help with frequent cystitis (UTI) or bladder infections and is gentle enough for children and elderly. To prevent and calm the inflammed tissue along the urinary tract with other herbal remedies that help fight the infection. If I think about the slippery nature of this herb, it also creates a barrier on the mucous membranes for spreading infection.
How to use: I’ve talked it above but I love making a cold infusion with marshmallow root cut and sifted here's a re
To make a cold water infusion, fill a jar 1/4 of the way full with cut and sifted marshmallow root, then fill the rest of the jar with warm water and allow infusion to sit for 4-12 hours. Strain and serve. Refrigerate up to 3 days before composting. Add a little bit of juice if needed to get it down.
You can also add this any herbal tea and brew as just a preventative measure. It’s in our Peppermint Belly Tea for a reason.
You can also make it as a decoction. Which is to take ½ cup of marshmallow root in 4 cups of water. Boil with the cover on for about 20 minutes, sip or add with other blends.
More about where to find it and where to grow:
Habitat: Edges of salt and freshwater marshes (can be grown in garden but the root doesn’t get as big) but still great for the flowers and leaves.
Plant ID: Tall upright 2-4 foot tall, edge of wet places, with a alternating leaf pattern and small red to pink flowers. Have a plant ID book handy when looking for this.
Other mallows that can be helpful: common mallow, small low growing wildflower that is plentiful in the fall and spring before the heat sets in can use leaves, flower and root for medicinal uses and the leaf and flower are good for foraged greens.
Start using this herb as a first line of defense to just juice the body up, along with Elderberry syrup any/or Fire Cider to assist the body in defending itself against the ailment.
This is one of the first herbs that I learned about at Green Comfort Herbal School during Teresa 9 month Foundations in Herbalism,Teresa is still looking for a few more folks that want to go deep with her and it has saved me and my clients in countless ways. I highly recommend for empowering your family.
Come learn with me, I’m really excited for this season because I finally have the capacity to do more classes and workshops and I have a few upcoming classes coming up: Foraging & Medicinal Plant ID walk this Saturday September 29th at 4pm,Seasonal Wellness October , Tea & Honey.