The similarity in name between the herb marshmallow and the sweet treat is more than a coincidence, although the modern sugar puff ball no longer bears much relationship to the old-fashioned candy flavored with marshmallow herb.
Besides inspiring makers of campfire food, the marshmallow has also been used medicinally since ancient Greece. Hippocrates spoke of it as a treatment for bruises and blood loss, and subsequent Roman physicians recommended marshmallow for toothaches, insect bites, chilblains, and irritated skin. In medieval Europe, herbalists used marshmallow to soothe toothaches, coughs, sore throats, chapped skin, indigestion, and diarrhea.
What Is Marshmallow Used for Today?
Marshmallow contains contains large sugar molecules called mucilage, which are thought to exert a soothing effect on mucous membranes, and this is the basis of most proposed uses of the herb. However, only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies
On the basis of its supposed soothing properties, tea or lozenges containing marshmallow tea are often recommended for
Marshmallow can be made into a soothing tea by steeping roots overnight in water and diluting to taste. This tea can be drunk as desired for symptomatic relief. Alternatively, you can take marshmallow in capsules (5 to 6 g daily) or in tincture according to label directions.
Marshmallow ointments can be applied directly to soothe inflamed or irritated skin.
Marshmallow is believed to be entirely safe. It is approved for use in foods,
and its chemical makeup does not suggest any but benign effects.
However, detailed safety studies have not been performed. One study suggests
that marshmallow can slightly lower blood sugar levels.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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