Marshmallow is a perennial plant belonging to genus Althaea and family Malvaceae.
It is most commonly found in the damp areas of northern Europe and western Asia. It is also identified by the names althaea root, mallow root, sweet weed, Schloss tea and Hock herb. The plant can be described as downy stems, fleshy taproot, velvety leaves, with pale pink flowers that blossom during summer.
Roots and root extract are mainly used for medicinal purpose, but flowers and leaves also can be used. The young leaves and flowers can be added in salads or used in boiled and fried form. Marshmallow root powder is used for the preparation of warm infusions, cold macerations, tincture and fluid extract.
Contents of Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root consists of mucilages (polysaccharides), which are composed of glucuronic acid, galacturonic acid, galactose, rhamnose and arabinose. It also contains antioxidant flavonoids 8-hydroxyluteolin and 8-b-gentiobioside, amino acid asparagines, coumarins, phenolic acids, fats, kaempferol, tannins, quercetin, sugars and volatile oil.
Medicinal Uses of Marshmallow Root Powder
The name of the genus Althaea itself suggests the medicinal properties of this plant. The word Althaea is derived from the Greek althainein, which means ‘to heal’.
Cough and Sore Throat: This mucilaginous herb possesses expectorant properties. Marshmallow root, due to its mucilaginous, antitussive and antibacterial properties, is used to treat sore throat and dry cough. When taken orally, it gives soothing effect on the inflamed membranes in the throat and mouth. The antitussive properties of this herb can help to control dry coughing and further irritation.
Digestive Disorders: Marshmallow root powder can be effectively used to treat digestive disorders such as indigestion, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, heartburn and Chron’s disease. It causes soothing effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa. Regular intake of marshmallow root powder can help to relive the pain of Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It also prevents perforation of stomach ulcers.
Skin Conditions: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, marshmallow root powder can be used to treat various skin conditions like burns, bruises, sprains, aches, dermatitis and other skin irritations. It causes soothing effect on the irritated skin as well as speeds up wound healing. It stimulates cell proliferation of connective tissues which is extremely important for the regeneration of tissues. It can also be used to heal skin infections like psoriasis, eczema and pinkeye.
Respiratory Infections: Marshmallow root powder, when used as an herbal tea, makes an excellent remedy to fight respiratory infections like bronchitis, laryngitis, whooping cough, dry cough, tonsillitis and emphysema. Marshmallow tea can be used to decrease hoarseness of the throat and other throat infections. Due to content of mucilate, marshmallow can be used to treat irritation in throat, mouth and stomach.
Some other medicinal benefits of marshmallow root powder are as follows:
– Marshmallow root powder is an effective remedy to cure stomach disorders like peptic ulcers, acid reflux, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and colitis.
– It has been used for centuries to treat urinary tract infections, kidney stones and kidney problems. It acts as a natural diuretic, expelling excessive fluid and mucus from the body.
– Marshmallow root can be ingested as a diet supplement for weight loss. Since the root swells when mixed with fluids, it makes the stomach to feel fuller.
– Marshmallow root also helps to reduce pain and irritation related to teething in infants.
– As a natural moisturizer, marshmallow root powder can be used as a deep conditioner for hair and scalp.
Marshmallow root is non-toxic and harmless, but its mucilage content can interfere with other medications if taken simultaneously. Also, you may experience a mild odor to the urine due to asparagines present in the root. In addition, pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid using marshmallow root. Marshmallow may affect blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you are diabetic, check your blood sugar levels to avoid low blood sugar.
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