Common Name: Marshmallow, mallow, sweet weed, cheese plant
Medicinal Preparations:Tincture: Fresh roots 1:2 60% Dry roots 1:5 30%
Drops: 15-60 Times a day: up to 4x
Glycerite: Dry roots 1:5 (40% water 30% glycerin 30% alcohol)
Capsules: “00” 2-4 capsules up to 4x daily
Tea: Cold infusion of the root 8-12 ounces or infusion of the leaves and flowers Times a day: 3-4x
The best way to prepare marshmallow is a cold-water infusion. Allow the infusion to sit for 4+ hours or overnight before you strain and drink. The mucilage will be thick, strain through cheesecloth or milk bag.
Habitat and Botanical Description:
Marshmallow is a perennial herb that grows about 4 feet in height and has a long, fleshy tap root. It has hairy, soft and tender leaves and pale pink flowers that bloom during the summer months. The plant has a white, spongy tap root, which is rich in mucilage, a thick sticky substance used for its medicinal properties. Indigenous to Europe, it grows wild in moist meadows, marshes (hence “marsh” mallow) and riverbanks. Marshmallow grows easily in the home garden tolerating drought conditions but thrives in well-drained soil with an occasional watering.
Marshmallow is a versatile herb with a wide range of uses for both internal and external use. The leaves, flowers and roots are all medicinal and can be used interchangeably at different phases of their growth cycle to make medicine. Though the root is the most potent medicinally.
Marshmallow is known for its ability to hydrate and soothe dry, irritated tissues with its mucilaginous polysaccharides, which are long chain sugar molecules that form a thick mucilage when combined with water. This makes Marshmallow a powerful demulcent, especially helpful when addressing heat and inflammation in the body. In Chinese medicine its often used to address yin deficiency, which is characterized by heat arising from excess dryness (hot flashes, hormonal imbalances). In ayurveda it is known as a kapha herb and used to tonify vata and reduce pitta.
In addition to its demulcent properties, Marshmallow has immune modulating and inflammation reducing effects. When it reaches the gut, the body recognizes marshmallow as an antigen and responds by activating the immune systems and decreasing inflammation by cooling and calming heat in the tissues. Beneficial for the entire digestive tract. Use as a mouthwash for sore, inflamed gums. Soothe sore throats and coughs with tea or syrup. Ease digestive issues such as heartburn, indigestion and ulcers by coating and soothing the lining. It’s an effective anti-spasmodic and especially useful for dry, unproductive coughs and pairs nicely with licorice and anise.
In different systems of the body, Marshmallows moistening effects can lead to secondary actions. For example, it can act as an expectorant in the respiratory system, a diuretic in the genitourinary system and a demulcent laxative in the digestive system. These actions are all related to its core demulcent properties.
Topically, marshmallow root can help hydrate and lubricate the skin making it feel softer and smoother. It reduces inflammation and irritation, useful for a variety of skin conditions and is often used in skincare for this reason. Use for burns, diaper rashes, sitz bath, eczema, dandruff etc. Find it in our Full Moon Milk Bath🌕 for its soothing, softening effects on the skin and the close connection to the Moon. Fomentations and poultice can be useful to draw out poisons and infections such as boils, cystic acne, abscesses and infected wounds.
Marshmallow leaf is sometimes used in smoking blends. It delivers a fragrant smoke that is moistening to the throat and soothing to lungs making it easier to inhale. Marshmallows expectorant effects help to clear the respiratory tract of mucus. Due to it terpenoids, it is considered mildly psychoactive with a energizing buzz.
Marshmallow magick can is evident in its delicate flowers and soft leaves. Its caries a gentle energy that can soften hardened tissues as well as a hardened mind and heart. It brings a soft and soothing energy to someone who is emotional closed off, helping them to process and express difficult emotions.
Marshmallow's effects on the mucosal membranes, including its ability to moisten and soothe, correspond with the Moon's influence on secretions, moisture, and hydration. The Moon helps improve the body's ability to receive nutrients, and marshmallow supports this process by hydrating tissues and improving their function. The Moon is associated with the archetype of the mother and has a nurturing, gentle, and nourishing quality. Marshmallow has a close connection to the water element through its effects on the mucosa, urinary tract, reproductive system, and its preference for water as a menstruum in medicine making.
Once the plant is in flower you can pick the leaves and flowers to make medicine. Add fresh leaves and flowers to water for a demulcent, cooling infusion. Harvest the root after 2-3 years when it is fully mature. During the fall, After the aerial parts have died back, dig around the base of the plant with a gardening fork and gently unearth. If you would like to dry the root, use a dehydrator to prevent molding as the root is high in mucilage and will spoil quicky. You can also propagate by dividing the root and planting in well-drained soil.
It is important to note that smoking of any kind is not a healthy habit and can cause serious health problems including cancer and respiratory diseases. There is no safe level. Excessive use of marshmallow can cause loose stools. Marshmallows high mucilage content can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. Take a least an hour before taking medications. Taking marshmallow with medications with side effects that can cause blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding
- Culpeper, N. (1826). Culpeper’s complete herbal and english physician. Manchester: J. Gleave & Son
- Gladstar, Rosemary. The Science and Art of Herbalism. A Home-Study Course
- Popham, Sajah. Alchemical Herbalism Course. School of Evolutionary Herbalism. Lecture Notes; 2020
- Popham, Sajah. The Vitalist Herbal Practitioner Program. School of Evolutionary Herbalism. Lecture Notes. 2021
- Sinadinos, Christa. The Essential Guide to Western Botanical Medicine. Fieldbrook, CA; 2020
- Sinadinos, Christa. Northwest School for Botanical Studies Course. Lecture Notes; 2014