Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root is great at producing mucilage! I learned that mucilage is a carbohydrate that the body has a hard time breaking down. Is this a benefit? Yes! It helps sooth inflamed & irritated skin via direct contact. This is the definition of a demulcent herb. Demulcent for internal use, emollient for external use.

Marshmallow has an affinity for digestion, respiratory, and urinary systems. Also, it can be used topically to aid wound healing or any hot/irritated/inflamed skin as a pollutice. It’s a great addition to Yarrow or Kinnickinck to fight a UTI, as it has no astringent properties and will help with inflammation. In the digestive system, because of its vulunary and demulcent properties, it can help with ulcers, indigestion, IBS, and maybe even leaky gut. The mucilage coats gut lining to help to stop leakage, same for the stomach with ulcers and indigestion to reduce irritation. For respiratory, when you have a sore throat, again Marshmallow will help to sooth inflamed tissues and bring moisture to mucous membranes 1.

“In France, the young tops and tender leaves of Marsh Mallow are eaten uncooked, in spring salads, for their property in stimulating the kidneys, a syrup being made from the roots for the same purpose.”

p. 507, A Modern Herbal by M. Grieves

Some other interesting uses from M. Grieves was to boil the root in milk or wine, make into syrup, or a part of a tea mix remedy for colds. It does sound kind of delicious as a syrup. Some classmates also noted that they’ve used marshmallow root to help with endometriosis and arthritis/joints. I haven’t had experience with either, but it makes sense that it could aid with those conditions.

In fact, I haven’t worked with marshmallow root before, but I am looking forward to adding it to my morning herbal teas. I will mix it with Tulsi or Peppermint, for an overall aid to digestion. As a yinny person, I am always trying to improve my digestion. I have a tea thermos with a strainer that I like to use for herbal teas only. In the morning, I put all my herbs in the strainer & pour boiling water atop. I then make my 2o minute bike commute to work. When I arrive, the tea has been sitting long enough to yield a fairly strong infusion. In general, it is recommended to make a decoction for roots. A decoction is simply making a tea, but instead of pouring hot water over the herb, you will simmer the herb in hot water for 15 minutes.

HOW TO MAKE A DECOCTION

  1. Add 1 heaping TBS of root to 1 cup water.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 25 minutes.
  3. Strain. Drink a cup several times daily.

 

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HOW TO DEHYDRATE FRESH MARSHMALLOW ROOT

  1. Clean root of dirt, if this hasn’t already been done.
  2. Cut into 2″ pieces, then cut each piece in half lengthwise.
  3. Place roots on dehydrator shelves. Set dehydrator to 135F. If you have a timer, I’d start with 4 hours and then check if a couple more hours are needed.
  4. With a cutting board & straight rolling pin, lovingly pound the crap out of your dried roots. This will result in powder and smaller pieces of material that lend to decoction/infusion. More surface area =  more contact with water to pull constituents out of the plant matter.
  5. Store in an airtight jar

 

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Dried & ready for pounding.

 

HOW TO TINCTURE FRESH MARSHMALLOW ROOT

  1. I also had enough fresh root to make a tincture. To tolerance, finely chop up root.
  2. Measure menstrum (ie. water & everclear mixture). I used a 40% alcohol to water ratio for my menstrum. This is because the muscilage is best extracted by water & 40% alc. is as low as we can go with fresh plants and still preserve a long shelf life.
  3. Pour menstrum over chopped roots, tighten lid on jar, & give it a shake. I always like to get a bit woo and thank the plant & think about all the healing it’s going to help with.

 

As I start to work with marshmallow, I’m sure I will become familiar with it’s specific effects on my body. For now, I’d have to say pounding the root is pretty fun and satisfying – the same reason that I enjoy making saurkraut. I also loved the smell as it dehydrated. It was both sweet and bitter in scent. I’d love to hear how you’ve worked with marshmallow and any recipes, tips, preparations you’d like to share!

 

Althaea officinalis L. | Marshmallow

Herbal Actions: Anti-inflammatory, Demulcent, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Vulenary

Calendula: a champion for your skin

Last week, I picked up my monthly herb share and have spent the days since in a frenzy of medicine making; chopping, straining, washing jars, labeling, + so forth. The other day, I harvested the first eggplant from our summer garden. I find myself on the way to complete one task, only to get distracted and begin another. It’s a moment of abundance and it’s keeping me busy.

At the peak of summer, it’s the time to harvest so many things. One of those things is Calendula flowers. Medicinal resins will be most strongly concentrated in the flower heads if picked at the height of day (think water is evaporating in the heat, allowing those resins to be more potent) cite. While I didn’t grow any this season, I got a great big bag of flowers and a tin of calendula salve from my CSH share. Calendula salve has found its way to me right when I need it—I’ve been lazily batting away at eczema on my lips, elbows, & hands with coconut oil. It’s nice to have another ally to turn to.

I didn’t feel enthused about applying cortisone or any steroid to my lips. The salve works nicely, though needs super frequent application making your lips look like they’re shining with sweat. But, the pleasant flavor and knowing it’s made with olive oil & beeswax, I feel comfortable with the amount I probably end up ingesting. Speaking of which, calendula is great as a tea or tincture. It’s often used to boost the immune system by stimulating lymphatic drainage cite. So, you can double up on your calendula intake, as internal use is common for treating eczema, as well. Calendula isn’t the only part of an herbal protocol to heal eczema. Other things factor in, such as diet, vitamins, micro-nutrients, allergens, stress, genetics, and a a lack of understanding of the nature of eczema. But, that’s another post & I have yet to dive deeply into creating a protocol for my eczema.

In addition to eczema, calendula is the go to herb for many skin conditions; be it dryness, cuts & scraps, bug bites, and more. From what I’ve read, calendula helps skin cell regeneration via a high content of natural iodine, carotene, and manganese cite. I’d love to learn more about this aspect of the plant, but haven’t put the research time in yet. I did put some salve on a mysterious bug bite I got on my bike commute home. While I don’t know how long it would have taken to heal up on its own, the salve really helped reduce the inflammation that my skin is so prone to when irritated.

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“Calendula is one of my favored personal wintertime teas, as I find it so uplifting, especially when I am feeling the long-dark-night-blahs. Interestingly, a strong cup of calendula tea has a flavor reminiscent of unsweetened cacao. Most modern herbalists don’t typically use it as one of their primary anti-depressant herb, but it is mentioned for that specific use in multiple historical texts. Calendula may be called upon for grief and sadness along with other cheering flowers: rose, mimosa and lavender. In addition, consider other helpful herbal companions, such as lemonbalm and lemon verbena.”

– Chestnut School of Herbs

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In M. Grieve’s A Modern Herbal, I found it unique that the flowers were often dried and stored as one of many ingredient for making winter broths. I might try this, in addition to what I decided to do with a portion of my flowers—infusing them in Thayer’s witch hazel (pictured above). I’ll use this for many of the same uses as the salve; to reduce inflammation in bug bites, as well as, a facial toner.

Calendula officinalus | calendula, pot marigold (Asteraceae)

Herbal Actions: Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Astringent, Bitter, Cholagogue, Lymphagogue, Vulnerary