For centuries, people in Europe and the Middle East have eaten wild-growing marsh mallow when their crops failed. Today it is still recognized as a wilderness forage food. Herbalists use the roots, and sometimes the leaves, of this downy, erect, 5-foot-high perennial that grows in damp soils; they prescribe it for cuts and wounds, mouth sores, stomach distress and other ailments. And teething, irritable babies and toddlers have traditionally found comfort in sucking on a root of marsh mallow.
The healing substance in marsh mallow is mucilage, a spongy root material that forms a gel when mixed with water and is especially soothing to inflamed mucous membranes. One study suggests that mucilage supports the immune system's white blood cells in their fight against invading microbes. Another trial, using animals, indicated that marsh mallow may help to lower blood sugar.
Marsh mallow taken internally for:
Marsh mallow applied externally for:
Over the counter:
Available in dried bulk, capsules, tincture.
Decoction: Simmer 1 to 2 tsp finely chopped or crushed root in 1 cup water for 10 to 15 minutes; drink three times daily. Use the decoction as a gargle for mouth problems.
Gel: Add just enough water to the finely chopped root to give it a gel-like consistency and use for skin problems.