Althaea officinalis (Malvaceae)
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
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.
Root collected in autumn from two year-old plants, leaves.
pectin; flavonoids (in leaves), quercitin and kaempferol; phenolic acids such as salicylic acid.
Soothes internal body surfaces; softens and soothes the skin; expectorant; promotes wound healing.
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.
Infusion, decoction, tincture, poultice.