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Marsh Mallow


    Scientific Names

    Marsh Mallow
    Marsh Mallow
    • Althaea officinalis L.
    • Malvaceae
    • Mallow family

    Common Names

    ivyAlthea
    ivyMallards
    ivyMarshmallow
    ivyMortification root
    ivySchloss tea
    ivySweet weed
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    Parts Usually Used

    Dried root, dried leaves and dried flowers.
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    A densely velvety, gray-white perennial plant over 5 feet tall, with erect leafy stems and a thick taproot. The lower, 5-lobed, leaves are long-stalked and lobed, heart-shaped, upper ones folded like a fan. The pale pink (or mauvish) or white flowers grow on small clusters in leaf axils of upper leaves; they have velvety sepals, appear at the height of summer. Fruits are brown-green, downy nutlets. Grown in full sun. Not heat tolerant.

    Not to be confused with High Mallow (M. sylvestris L.) or Common Mallow (M. neglecta Wallr).
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    Where Found

    Found in salt marshes on the Atlantic coast, less commonly inland on damp, saline soils, in wet places. Also cultivated. Quebec to Virginia. Native to Europe.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Tonic, nutritive, alterative, diuretic, demulcent, emollient, mucilaginous, vulnerary (heals wounds), laxative, inflammatory; flowers are expectorant
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    Biochemical Information

    Starch, mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar, asparagin. tannin, polysaccharides, flavonoids, the leaves have salicylic and other phenolic acids.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    Taking its botanical name from a Greek word, altho, meaning “to heal”, marshmallow has been used since Ancient Egyptian times. The root, rich in sugars, is very mucilaginous and softening for the tissues. The leaves are not as mucilaginous as the root and are used as an expectorant and as a soothing remedy for the urinary system. Both the leaves and the root have been used as a vegetable. All members of the mallow family have similar properties, with varieties such as garden hollyhocks and common mallows occasionally used medicinally.

    King Charlemagne (AD 742-814) insisted that marsh mallow be planted throughout his kingdom to ensure an abundant supply. About 800 years after Charlemagne’s death, Culpeper wrote that his son suffered from a disease called the “bloody flux” which the College of Physicians back then called the plague in the guts. Culpeper treated his son by giving him “mallow bruised and boiled both in milk and drink.” Two days later, his son was cured.
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    Uses

    Used to treat wasting diseases, tuberculosis, diabetes, cough, pleurisy, dryness and inflammation of the lungs, bronchitis, gangrene, septicemia, ulcers, enteritis, colitis, pain of kidney stones, difficult or painful urination, diarrhea, dysentery, conjunctivitis, rheumatism, gravel in kidneys, blood in the urine, stool, or nose; and vomiting or spitting of blood. Also used as a gargle for sore throats, coughs, whooping cough, laryngitis, bronchitis, mastitis, malnutrition, and sore mouths, externally as a poultice for burns, skin eruptions, wounds, bee stings, cuts and boils. It will also release retained afterbirth.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Marsh mallow root tea has to be made with cold water. For this reason it is ill suited as a component of tea blends that are brewed with hot water.

    After drying, store in air-tight container.

    In all cases, prepare a standard infusion or a decoction from several finely diced roots. Either preparation, applied externally, will reduce inflammation, and decoction is said to relieve soreness in the breasts.

    Infusion: 1 tsp. dried herb in 1 cup water, simmer for 10 minutes, let stand until cool. Drink 1 to 2 cups a day, in large mouthful doses.
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    How Sold

    Capsules: take 1 capsule, up to 3 times daily to relieve symptoms.

    Dried Herb: mix 1 tbsp. of dried herb in 8 oz. boiling water; strain. Drink up to 3 cups of this tea daily to relieve symptoms.
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    Bibliography

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

    Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

    Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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