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Marshmallow Plant

AKA:

Altea, Alteia, Althaea officinalis, Althaea taurinensis, Althaeae Folium, Althaeae Radi, Althea, Althée, Guimauve, Guimauve Officinale, Gulkhairo, Herba Malvae, Mallards, Malvavisco, Marsh Maillo, Mauve Blanche, Mortification Root, Racine de Guimauve, Sweet Weed, Wymote. (Names are regional)

Propagation:

It is a perennial herbaceous plant of the hibiscus, or mallow, family (Malvaceae), native to eastern Europe and northern Africa. It has also become established in North America. The plant is usually found in marshy areas, chiefly near the sea. It has strongly veined heart-shaped or oval leaves. The pinkish flowers, borne on stalks about 1.8 meters (6 feet) tall, are about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter. Their tall, elegant spikes are covered with flowers from July to September. You can place your seeds in the refrigerator for a few weeks, whether in their package or in a plastic baggie with some lightly moistened peat moss. This will mimic the winter dormancy period needed for the seeds to germinate. Start the seeds indoors three to four weeks before the last frost date, or sow outdoors once the danger of frost has passed. Sow them in groups of five or six seeds, in groupings 18-24 inches apart. Lightly cover them with soil and keep moist until they germinate. This usually takes about three to four weeks. Once established, these hardy plants will return every year. To use root divisions, divide marshmallow when the plant is dormant, such as in the fall after that plant has died down. Simply insert a sharp spade into the plant and slice down through the root mass. Take one portion of the roots for planting elsewhere, and backfill the space with fertile soil. Plant marshmallow in a moist spot, ideally with heavy soil. While it wants continuously moist soil, it doesn’t want to grow underwater or in an actual swamp. Ensure good drainage and avoid standing water. Plant marshmallow plants about 1 foot apart in a well-prepared perennial bed. Mulch heavily in the first year to discourage weeds and hold moisture while the plants are getting established.


History/Folklore:

Althaea officinalis has a rich history that has been described in historical documents from Egyptian, Roman and Syrian sources, and its use as a food source made it an important plant in civilizations going back centuries. In times of famine following crop failure in Syria, marshmallow root was a crucial source of food. In addition to the medicinal and nutritious properties of the marshmallow's roots, the flowers are also edible and can be eaten in salads. During the Spanish inquisition it was used by people about to undergo torture by painting their bodies with a concoction to lessen the effects of the burns and hopefully prove their innocence. Ancient Egyptians mixed the marshmallow sap with grains, nuts, and honey to make sweet cakes for pharaohs and other nobility. The cakes were off limits for common folk. It is a feminine plant ruled by the element of water, the moon or Venus and Libra or Cancer. It is associated with Althea, Aphrodite, and Venus. It is said that this magical root was often used in love and fertility spells. Marshmallow is also a protective and cleansing herb. It is often burned like sage to cleanse a space. The leaves and flowers have often been steeped in oil and used as an anointing oil to protect from bad spirits. Marshmallow has also throughout history been used during departing rituals when someone has passed. It is thought that planting marshmallow near, or on the grave site is an honor to those who have passed on. Celts placed the flat seed disks over the eyes of their dead to prevent evil spirits from sneaking into the head for a free ride to heaven.


Spiritual:

Marshmallow is sometimes burned to cleanse a space or used to make protective oils. It’s considered to be a favorite of benevolent spirits. Spirit bottles, used to house helpful spirits, are filled with marshmallow root. Keeping a jar of it and a dish of water on your altar is said to help call helpful spirits to your aid. Celts placed the flat seed disks over the eyes of their dead to prevent evil spirits from sneaking into the head for a free ride to heaven. On a plant spirit level think: comfort. Marshmallow is the friend that is always there when you need her to soothe, to comfort and to give relief to what ails you.

Medicinal:

Marshmallow expresses its mucilage best as a cold infusion. Measure the dose of marshmallow root needed (depending on what you are trying to do) into a tea strainer, fill a glass jar with clean water, plop the strainer in it, and set it in my fridge overnight. On a physical level, the mucilage in marshmallow root soothes irritated membranes, forms a protective layer, and brings comfort. It helps with dry coughs, allergies and airborn irritants, inflammation, wounds, Urinary/Kidney support, sore throats, respiratory issues, GI issues, pain, inflamation of the lining of the stomach, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation, used to form a protective layer on the skin, lower blood sugar, contains antioxidants, helps with dry mouth, treats ulcers


*** Marshmallow contains a type of soft fiber called mucilage. Mucilage can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. Taking marshmallow at the same time you take medications by mouth can decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction, take marshmallow at least one hour after medications you take by mouth. ***



Summary:

This is an amazing plant with an amazing history and uses medicinally and spiritually. Please use caution, as always, when incorporating this herb into your daily diet and always, always, always consult your doctor before using if you are on regular medications. I am always looking for things to help with even the small things like a sore throat or my diabetes. I would love nothing more than to be nondependent on those medications. I am grateful that I have a doctor that is excited to work with me on my issues and holistic solutions. Hopefully, someday I will get to treat my issues with natural remedies. Please remember to never substitute your prescribe medications with natural supplements without consulting with your doctor. Overall I am excited to share what I’ve learned about this plant with my doctor and seeing how I can incorporate it to help me get healthier. I hope you found this information interesting, and I hope it causes you to take a deeper look into all the wonders and benefits it might could give you!

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