Marshmallow has been used for millennia as an edible food and for its soothing properties. Althaea officinalis is in the mucilage-heavy Malvaceae family and is an herbaceous perennial that can be found growing alongside marshes, seas, riverbanks, and other equally damp areas. Our marshmallow root is organically cultivated in the United States. It can be decocted or cold infused as marshmallow root tea. This demulcent makes a wonderful addition to herbal syrups, infusion blends, and body care creations.
Known throughout the ancient Egyptian, Arab, Greek, and Roman cultures, this herb has been used continually for at least 2000 years. In traditional folk practices it was given to soothe and moisten mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts, and also as an external poultice. This plant has been used in beverages, desserts, candies, cosmetic creams, and was the "root" of the original marshmallow confectionery. Marshmallow root provides natural mucilage that supports, soothes, and moistens mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts.*
Marshmallow is in the mucilage containing Malvaceae family. It is an herbaceous perennial and grows to a height of 2-5 feet with soft, velvety, and irregularly serrated leaves. Its flowers which form clusters at leaf axils or panicles, and are similar to, yet smaller than, other flowers in the related Malva genus. This plant grows in salt marshes, by the sea, along riverbanks, and other equally damp areas, hence its common name 'marshmallow.' The generic name Althaea, (a name shared with an ancient Greek goddess who was yet another lover of Dionysus) was derived from the Greek word 'altheo' meaning to heal or cure, suggesting its beneficial properties. The name of the of genus Malva, and of the Malvaceae at large, is derived from the Latin 'mollis', or the Greek 'malake' meaning soft, most likely related its softening and beneficial qualities.
According to herbalists Paul Bergner and Simon Mills, marshmallow stimulates a "vital reflex" which instructs the body to moisten the mucous membranes.
Just as the ancients did, we too can eat all parts of the marshmallow. The seeds, leaves, and flowers can all be put in salad. The leaves are tasty steamed like kale or collard greens, and the root can be boiled and then fried.
As the story goes, marshmallows are one of the oldest desserts known to man, with accounts of ancient Egyptians making candies of marshmallow root and honey. These delicacies were naturally reserved for the gods and royalty. However, the first confection which resembled our modern-day treat was made in France around 1850. Made by hand until 1900, marshmallow root was added to corn syrup, egg whites, and water and was heated, and poured into molds. By 1955 there were 35 manufacturers in the US creating what we know today as the puffy, white, indispensable addition to s'mores.
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KHS recommends that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional before using herbal products, particularly if you take other medications, or if you are nursing, pregnant, or expecting to become pregnant.
This information is for education purposes, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration