So despite it being the middle of January in Maryland, Jeremy and I have had some pretty nice nights for bonfire “dates” in out back after getting our little peanut to bed. Hot dogs, homemade pretzel buns, warm apple cider and marshmallows. Yum.
This got me thinking about the herb version of our smore’s . . . the marshmallow root! Sadly marshmallow root is not a fluffy, sugary, delicious dessert, but it IS healthy and GREAT for treating digestive and respiratory issues!
We’ve used it during colds for soothing sore throats and preventing our sad scratchy voices from being lost entirely. You don’t have to take my word for it though, because marshmallow actually has thousands of years of use to back it up as an effective herbal treatment; Homer even mentioned it in the Iliad over 2800 years ago!
Marshmallow is considered a demulcent herb meaning that it is cooling, slippery, and soothing. It has an abundance of mucilage in the flower & root (The Herbal Resource); marshmallow makes a thick sticky substance to coat membranes in the body. These qualities makes it a go-to herb for treating sore throats, coughs, and other respiratory issues like whooping cough.
Because mucilage does not change form until it reaches the colon, it is also beneficial for soothing/treating any sort of issues that are affected by inflammation of the digestive tract; ulcers, colitis, etc. The Herbal Resource strongly recommends Marshmallow for treating digestive issues like IBS, indigestion, and diarrhea. “Herbs for Children’s Health” suggests using it to treat Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and bladder infections, something I will be keeping in mind for the future too!
Interestingly some studies way back from the 60s have also proven that Marshmallow has helpful anti- inflammatory properties when applied externally. Many folks today use it for treating wounds, boils, and abscesses. Marshmallow would make a great poultice or addition to a lotion or salve.
Marshmallow is another weapon to add to your fighting-teething-pain kit. According to The Herbal Resource, some parents found it helpful to wash & peel the marshmallow root then give it to their teething baby to gnaw on; the marshmallow relieves the baby’s gum inflammation. For any age, marshmallow can also be used to make a mouth wash to relieve inflammation in the mouth. This could be helpful in treating mouth sores, abscesses, tooth infections etc, though I would still strongly recommend consulting your dentist for serious issues.
To make a tea including marshmallow, WellnessMama.com suggests using 1 TBSP per 1 cup of warm (not boiling) water. Steep for a few hours to overnight. I have also added marshmallow to other herbs to treat sore throats and coughs when we were sick a couple weeks ago. Though I did not steep it for as long as suggested above, it still definitely seemed to help soothe our throats, especially when combined with honey.
Leave a comment & let me know how you are planning on using marshmallow root to keep your family healthy!