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Marshmallow: Emollient and Restorative Properties

Marshmallow, or Althaea officinalis, is a perennial herb native to Europe and Western Asia, found in the wild mainly in moist environments, along the banks of watercourses, and in maritime areas.


Marshmallow medicinal plant

A Bit of History


Belonging to the Malvaceae family, marshmallow can grow up to nearly 2 meters in height and develops a thick root. The entire plant is covered with white hairs, giving it a soft, velvety appearance. The leaves are lobed with serrated margins, and the flowers bloom from July to September, pollinated by insects.


The history of marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt, where its mucilaginous extract, derived from the root, was used. In Western Europe, it was cultivated in monasteries, where medicinal herbs were harvested, dried, and stored in rooms called “officina” before being used to make remedies.


In the 16th century, marshmallow was also used as an ingredient in elaborate French confections. Confectioners began mixing the mucilaginous extract with sugar to create a soft, fluffy paste that was shaped into small forms and then dusted with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. These sweets (called marshmallows!) were served at feasts and special ceremonies.



Marshmallow

Cultivation and Harvest


Marshmallow has multiple uses, including medicinal, ornamental, and even as a vegetable (roots). However, it is primarily cultivated in Quebec for its medicinal properties.


It tolerates various soil types but prefers well-drained and fairly moist soils. It enjoys warmth and full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade and is easy to grow.


At La Fée des Bois Apothecary, we have been cultivating marshmallow since our very beginning.


The marshmallow root must be harvested when mature, ideally from plants older than 3 years, requiring a few years before our first harvests!


We use the leaves for our herbal tea blends, while the roots, hand-harvested (no machinery) in the fall from mature plants, are then replanted after harvesting the desired roots. We use them for our tinctures, elderberry syrup, and bitter digestive.




Properties


In traditional herbal medicine, it is primarily considered an EMOLLIENT. This is ITS SPECIALTY! With its moistening and softening actions combined, it is an invaluable plant whenever there is dryness at the mucosal level.


Used for BUCCO-GASTRO-INTESTINAL, RESPIRATORY, and URINARY INFLAMMATIONS (it is very mucilaginous, thus it will literally protect by coating and healing all the mucous membranes), it acts favorably when there is: sore throat, dry cough, laryngitis, bronchitis, constipation, and to relieve irritable bowel syndrome, etc.


Interestingly, marshmallow helps to restore the integrity of the intestinal mucosa by forming a protective layer. It is therefore THE plant of choice for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gastric reflux, stomach ulcers, and damaged intestines (Leaky Guts Syndrome). It helps to regulate transit, in case of constipation or diarrhea.


Let's not forget, immunity starts in our intestines! It is therefore a key ally for any disturbances in our intestinal flora!


In maternity, it could help a breastfed baby who has colic, is teething, or has skin problems (irritation), if consumed by the mother. During pregnancy, it could affect heartburn and gastric reflux.


It can also be used externally: in powder form, mixed with a liquid to form a paste, it can be applied to canker sores, abscesses, and/or boils. In the form of oily macerates, it softens irritated, dry skin and reduces rosacea.


Finally, the marshmallow leaf is also interesting to use. Its action will be mostly felt at the urinary and respiratory system levels: it will soothe if there is irritation. Its properties at the gastrointestinal level will be similar to the root, but less pronounced.



Marshmallow in the kitchen

In the Kitchen

Marshmallow root lends itself well to being steamed as a vegetable, in a vegetable mix.


Dried or fresh, in powder or decoction, it easily integrates into a smoothie. Since we generally like this beverage with a certain consistency, the use of powder here is very practical and simple: 1 tablespoon per portion (in the blender with everything else) and that's it!


With marshmallow decoction, you can rehydrate dried fruits (mangoes, dates, prunes) to then reduce them to a puree. Simply take an X amount of dehydrated fruits and submerge them in marshmallow tea (cold or room temperature) to rehydrate them. Let it sit on the counter for a day or overnight, covered, then blend until smooth (including the liquid!). This will give a concentrated mix of flavors and nutrients, to use as is on chia pudding, overnight oats, pancakes, or to make energy balls or no-bake bars. Keeps for a few days in the fridge; can also be frozen.


And what about the famous traditional marshmallow recipe. Homemade marshmallows are a soft, squishy, ​​delicious and above all beneficial treat since they are made with real marshmallow root and honey.


Contraindications/Precautions/Interactions


Allergies :

  • If you are allergic to other plants in the Malvaceae family (such as hibiscus or mallow), avoid consuming it.


Drugs interactions :

  • Marshmallow may reduce the absorption of certain medications by forming a gel in the stomach. Take it between 2 and 4 hours before or after medication, and stop using it at least 2 weeks before surgery.


Diabetes :

  • Marshmallow may lower blood sugar. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels when using it.


Uses and Dosage


Decoction :


Ideally, we prioritize a cold infusion (or room temperature) overnight (the polysaccharides extracted this way will be different than if we make a decoction). We use 2 to 10 grams of dried roots (1 to 3 tablespoons) with 1 liter of water. Afterwards, you can slightly reheat the preparation, filter, then take 1 to 3 cups per day.


For faster use , bring the same mixture to the boil, and simmer over low heat and covered, for a maximum of 10 minutes (more than 10 minutes, the mucilages are destroyed!).


Finally, know that for babies , if there is constipation or colic, you can give ½ to 1 ounce (15 to 30 ml) of this infusion (at room temperature), 1 to 2 times a day (using a pipette if necessary);

  • Powder: 1 tsp. at the table in ½ to 1 cup of liquid;

  • Mother tincture (alcohol): 1 to 15 ml per day

  • Glycerate: 3 to 15 ml per day

  • Fresh root: it can be given to the baby to be chewed to relieve toothache during teething. In this case, it can also be cooked or used in the form of a decoction.


 


Our Herbal Products Using Marshmallow


Althaea , a hyper-hydrating butter for mother & baby and for fragile skin, with the intoxicating smell of chocolate ! Based on marshmallow extracts made from fresh plants from our gardens, this butter was designed mainly for future mothers, with the aim of preventing stretch marks. It also accompanies mothers after childbirth, when the whole body seems to want to crack from dryness. And finally, baby also benefits from it thanks to the protective and moisturizing effect it has on the fragile skin of newborn babies. It can also be applied to calm diaper rash and redness. For more details on this magnificent product : https://www.herboristerielafeedesbois.com/en/product-page/beurre-hydratant-althaea


Our Elderberry syrup , for the immunity of the whole family! It is based on elderberries, spilanthes, mullein, mint, marshmallow root, elecampane and honey. A formula to stimulate/tonify immunity, treat and fight respiratory tract infections (colds, flu, bronchitis), relieve coughs, reduce and heal irritation and inflammation of the digestive mucous membranes (throat, intestines, etc.). ). It helps heal the lungs and is a powerful antispasmodic, which helps expel mucus and helps breathe better. For more details on this essential item for any family pharmacy : https://www.herboristerielafeedesbois.com/en/product-page/sirop-sureau



Our Digestive herbal tea , to enjoy after meals or simply for pleasure at any time of the day! It promotes good digestion and reduces inflammation of the digestive tract. It is a bitter tonic which will support the work of the liver and gallbladder. It will prevent the formation of gas and, thanks to its antispasmodic actions in the intestines, its emollient qualities and its mucilages, it will calm the inflammation and pain of people living with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or simply a mucous membrane. inflamed digestive tract. In this herbal formulation, it is the marshmallow leaf that we use. For more details, consult the following link : https://www.herboristerielafeedesbois.com/en/product-page/tisane-digestive


And last but not least, our Bitter Digestive ! With inulin, made from blessed thistle, dandelion, anise-hyssop and elecampane, this bitter digestive tonic encourages the body to produce its own digestive juices and enzymes. It also soothes occasional gas and bloating, relieves heartburn, indigestion and occasional nausea, and helps maintain regular blood sugar levels. It is a gentle detoxifier that supports healthy liver and skin! To discover at https://www.herboristerielafeedesbois.com/en/product-page/tonique-digestif-amer



Mariane's advice


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