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Althaea officinalisAlthaea officinalis (Malvaceae)

MARSHMALLOW, MALLARDS, MORTIFICATION ROOT

 

Herbalists worldwide have used the roots and leaves for centuries to soothe and heal external and internal body surfaces. The species given medicinally is identified by the soft down on its leaves.

 

An ancient food plant as well as a medicine, marshmallow is mentioned in the Bible and in Arabic and Chinese history as a valuable food for the poor and in famines. The ancient Greeks used it as both a medicine and a decoration for graves, and it is widely used in European folk medicine. A perennial shrub, it has a thick, white, tapering root, pale-green lobed leaves, and pale-pink, fivepetalled flowers in late summer. Unlike other common mallow species, its leaves and stems are covered in soft down.

 

PARTS USED

Root collected in autumn from two year-old plants, leaves.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Polysaccharide mucilage; pectin; flavonoids (in leaves), quercitin and kaempferol; phenolic acids such as salicylic acid.

 

ACTIONS

Soothes internal body surfaces; softens and soothes the skin; expectorant; promotes wound healing.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given internally for catarrh, bronchitis, irritating cough, gastritis (stomach inflammation), peptic ulcers, and in urinary tract infections and irritations such as cystitis. Applied externally as a poultice for boils, carbuncles, and varicose ulcers.

 

PREPARATIONS

Infusion, decoction, tincture, poultice.

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