Herbal Spotlight: Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) Root + Recipe
It’s only fitting that one of my first blog posts is discussing one of my absolute favorite herbs, marshmallow or Althea officinalis in latin. It’s a gentle and nourishing herb that has a wide array of uses, however, it’s most commonly known for its demulcent properties which are a boon to the gastrointestinal system.
Marshmallow (Althea) is rich in polysaccharides which form a mucilage when combined with water. This mucilage is thick and viscous and coats the gastrointestinal system. It’s ‘magic goo!’ so please don’t fear the gelatinous texture, and instead, think of it sliding down your throat and providing a protective and nourishing layer over your insides. Imagining this, it’s easy to remember this is great for irritated tissue (think gastroenteritis/”GI bugs”, sore throats, and poor gut health/“leaky gut”). Herbs with mucilage not only help heal the tissue it comes in contact with, but the mucilage is shown to help improve vagal tone and encourage your body’s own natural production of mucus from goblet cells both in the GI system and the respiratory system.
Of note, it’s important to take this herb, and all other herbs with mucilage, away from other supplements and medications as it can impair or delay absorption. Always important to consult your physician before trying new herbs or supplements, as they can have adverse effects if not used properly.
It’s best to use the herb as a cold infusion (see recipe below) as this is the best way to extract the mucilage from the root. It is best enjoyed cold and it is great during summer time as it’s also energetically cooling. You can add a teaspoon of mint or licorice root to the recipe for added flavor if you don’t like the relatively benign taste of marshmallow root.
Marshmallow (Althea) Root Tea recipe
Combine ¼-½ cup Althea root dry herb with about 30 ounces of water. (I usually use a 32 ounce mason jar, super easy to add the herb, water, shake, and wait!) Let sit in a container overnight for 8-12 hours. Strain well (use cheesecloth or nut milk bag) and thoroughly press mucilage out of the herb matter. Keep liquid refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Typical dosing: 1 cup up to 3 times per day
In sum, marshmallow is great for individuals with poor digestive health & food allergies, autoimmune bowel disease, reflux, or gastroenteritis. It’s nourishing, soothing, and cooling on irritated and “angry” mucosa. It’s definitely an herb to have in your ‘naturopathic medicine cabinet’!
*Please consult you physician before trying any new herbs or supplements. This blog is not medical advice, always seek the care and advisement of a licensed healthcare practitioner.