Also known as Althaea officinalis, althaea leaf or althaea leaf.
Introduction Marshmallow is a perennial herb native throughout damp areas of northern Europe and western Asia. It is now naturalized to the Atlantic coast of the United States and used as an ornamental for its pointed foliage and purple flowers. References to marshmallow leaf as a healing herb are found in Homer's Iliad, written over 2,800 years ago. Its genus ("first") name Althaea comes from the Greek "altho," to cure, and its order name, Malvaceae, is derived from the Greek "malake," which means soft. Marshmallow leaf was widely used in traditional Greek medicine. The use of the herb spread from Greece to Arabia and India, where it became an important herb in the Ayurvedic and Unani healing traditions. All of these traditions used marshmallow as a soothing agent: demulcent, diuretic, emollient, and vulnerary.
Constituents Mucilage (arabinogalactans and galacturonorhamnan), antioxidant flavonoids 8-hydroxyluteolin and 8-b-gentiobioside, phenolic acids, tannins, and volatile oil.
Parts Used The dried leaf. Reputable suppliers test the product for its ability to swell when mixed with water.
Typical Preparations Cold macerations, warm infusions, tincture, and fluid extract. May also be taken as a capsule.
Summary Marshmallow leaf relieves irritation by coating inflamed surfaces. Its primary use in modern herbal medicine is to relieve sore throat, but it also relieves perianal inflammation (when taken orally) caused by severe diarrhea. Marshmallow leaf coats better than marshmallow root, but marshmallow root has greater antibacterial and anti-allergy effects.
Precautions Marshmallow leaf is completely non-toxic, but its mucilage can interfere with the absorption of other medicines if taken at the same time.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This information courtesy of MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS, with full, written permission for reuse. For further traditional information concerning Marshmallow, please visit this excellent resource from Botanical.com. Used with full, written permission.