Marshmallow root is an herb that has been used by humans for at least 2000 years. Traditionally it has been used both internally and externally to heal wounds. It has been used in drinks, desserts, candy, and cosmetics. The very first marshmallows were made by the Ancient Egyptians by boiling marshmallow root with honey until the mixture tightened. These were eaten to soothe coughs and sore throats.
One of the active parts of marshmallow root is called mucilage. This is a thick gel-like substance known for its ability to heal and soothe the digestive tract. Romans used marshmallow root as a delicacy. In the Middle East and in Asia, marshmallow was boiled and fried with onions and butter to keep the people fed during times of famine. In India, marshmallow is an important herb in Ayurvedic healing.
Marshmallow is often used in supplements and herbal medicine. You can find it in capsules, teas, and as a loose powder. Herbalists recommend that the best way to take it is as a “cold infusion” or as a tea steeped over night and drunk cold. Marshmallow can be found in throat lozenges for a sore throat and cough. It’s antitussive, meaning that it helps to decrease irritation in the throat and dry coughing. For this reason, many companies use it in natural cough remedies.
One of the most important and widely known uses of marshmallow is for healing the gut. Lots of people are developing leaky gut syndrome, which happens when food particles leak through the tiny openings in the intestines into the bloodstream. This is known to trigger the immune system to attack these food particles and can cause an allergy-like effect. The mucilage in marshmallow root helps to form a protective layer in the intestines to keep these food particles and other toxins out of the blood.
The main active component, mucilage can also soothe digestive complaints like ulcers and heartburn. It does this by coating the inside of the stomach to prevent burning sensation. As a gentle laxative, mucilage can help to regulate both constipation and diarrhea. It also helps to reduce inflammation which can cause many forms of digestive upset like IBS, IBD and Crohn’s disease.
Marshmallow’s healing ability also works when applied to the skin. Mucilage helps to speed healing by lowering swelling and killing bacteria. It is used in many cosmetic products as it helps to soften skin naturally.
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