Angel Crow 07/05/2020

Photo : Tabanac (Gironde, France) 2004


cold, moist, relaxant

Althaea officinalis
Common Names: marsh mallow, swamp mallow,
Taste: sweet, salty, bland
Family: Malvaceae
Zone: hardy to zone 4
Plant Description: Plant grows 3-4 feet with stems usually dying off in Autumn, they can reach heights of 6.5 feet in some cases. The leaves are slightly petioled, roundish, ovate-cordate, 2 to 3 in in length, and about 114 inch wide. The leaves are soft and velvety on both sides.

Cultivation: Prefers moist heavy soil, marsh like areas, it wants to have soil consistently moist, but not swampy, it needs good drainage, and no standing water. Plant spacing is 1 foot apart. Mulch is required in the first year to aid in moisture in soil. Roots are harvest-able after the third Fall. Remove a portion of the root and replant the roots to save the plant.
Propagation: Seeds require cold stratification for a few weeks in the refrigerator before planting.
Preservation: Store dried roots in a dry dark place in a sealed container.
Medicinal Parts: Leaves and Roots
Actions: demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, nutritive, emollient,
vulnerary, antimicrobial, moistening
Affinities: mucous membranes; digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems
Notable constituents: : flavonoids, phenolic acids, asparagine, pectin (root 11 – 35%),
arabinogalactans, mucilage (root 5 – 35%, leaf 6 – 16%)

Medicinal Applications:

  • Brings water to many different types of tissues in the body, stomach, respiratory, urinary, musculoskeletal, and skin – it has the greatest affinity for the digestive system, making it excellent for GI tract inflammation.
  • Useful for stomach inflammation, upset, heartburn, GERD and digestive dryness, including constipation.
  • Soothing to celiac or allergic reactions in the intestines as an adjunct to diet modification/allergen elimination.
  • Soothing to stomach ulcers, intestinal ulcerations, diverticulitis, Ulcerative Colitis, etc.
  • Soothing demulcent qualities act on the urinary system, useful for cystitis and
    urinary tract infections.
  • Moistening expectorant for tight, dry coughs and respiratory spasms.
  • Moistening to dry skin, particularly from heat, salt, and sun damage.
  • Can be used as a poultice for burns and wounds, soothing inflammation, treating infection, and as a stimulant the healing processes.
  • Historically used for problems as severe as sepsis and gangrene.

In practice:

  • demulcent action: infuse marshmallow root in cold water – hot water will not
    extract the mucilaginous constituents, leave herb soaking for 24 hours and strain, if possible.
  • Marshmallow is very important for dry constitutions, and for people who do not hold on to water well. Even it a lot of water is had the person will feel dehydrated. Marshmallow helps the water to ‘stick’ due to its mucilage and mineral content.
  • Also a very important herb for dealing with gut inflammation, particularly heartburn and GERD. (Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s)
  • Marshmallow leaf has higher affinity for the respiratory system, while the root is
    greater related to the digestive and urinary systems.

Cautions: Very thick mucilaginous infusions of marshmallow root will inhibit
absorption of medications taken concurrently; take medications separate from
marshmallow by at least an hour.

History: Mallow was an eaten as a vegetable by the Romans; a dish of marsh mallow was considered a delicacy.. Prospero Alpini wrote in 1592 that a plant of the mallow type was eaten by the Egyptians. The poor of Syria subsisted for weeks on herbs, of which marshmallow was one of the most common. When boiled first and fried with onions and butter, the roots are said to form a nice dish and in times of scarcity because of the failure of the crops it becomes a staple in Syria.


Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, Materia Medica,


Published by Angel Crow

Neurodivergent, herbalist, artist, writer, poet, horticulturist, musician, student

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