When most of us hear the word “marshmallow,” we immediately think of the white, puffy, sugary confection traditionally roasted over a campfire. However, back in ancient times, the term “marshmallow” referred to the marshmallow plant, an herb with multifaceted healing properties.
Modern marshmallows have nothing to do with Althaea officinalis, the marshmallow plant native to Africa and utilized to promote health as far back as ancient Egypt. While early marshmallows at least used real marshmallow in the recipe, it is not so nowadays, at least in the case of commercial marshmallows. Just one look at the ingredients label for Kraft Jet Puffed Mini Marshmallows proves our point.
Some of the main ingredients on the list are corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch, dextrose (another type of sugar), artificial flavor, a chemical whipping aid, and Blue 1, an artificial coloring. Not a hint of real marshmallow to be found – and not a single ingredient worth putting into your body on the list.
Marshmallow root, the most often-used part of the marshmallow plant, can be made into a comforting tea that has a cooling effect on the body’s tissues. This root, and its tea form, have been used since ancient times to calm inflammation and relieve irritated mucus membranes. One of the most well-known traditional uses of marshmallow root is to help soothe sore throats and calm coughs.
Marshmallow root tea is a great drink to help ease a cold, flu or cough for other reasons, as well. It has antibacterial properties, nourishes the body with flavonoid antioxidants, and has expectorant properties, allowing mucus to break up and leave the body. It may also help to ease other respiratory conditions, such as asthma, though there is limited scientific evidence of this at this point.
This tea may help to combat other types of system-wide inflammation, as well. Marshmallow root functions as mucilage, which is what gives it its somewhat gummy consistency. This mucilage not only coats the throat and sinus membranes to soothe irritation, it may also help to soothe inflammatory digestive ailments. For this reason, it has been traditionally used to ease heartburn, stomach pain and stomach ulcers.
Your best bet for marshmallow root tea is to find a high-quality, organic, loose-leaf variety, and add it to your own natural (preferably reusable) tea bags. To get the most benefits from the mucilage, brew it with warm – not hot – water, and squeeze the bag to let the mucilage enter the tea.
This tea has an earthy taste, which some find bland or unpleasant, but others really enjoy. If you prefer yours sweeter, add a bit of organic coconut crystals, or dried organic stevia leaves. Especially if you have a cold, raw, local honey is an excellent sweetening choice.
Note: Before starting on a health regimen with marshmallow root tea, talk to a natural health professional, or the health professional of your choice, to get the go-ahead that it is ok for your individual needs and condition. A natural health professional can also help you determine the dosage that will best fit your condition.
While this herb is generally considered safe, it has not been studied during pregnancy, so if you are pregnant or nursing, do not use it without clearance from your doctor. The same goes if you have a health condition.
-The Alternative Daily