Marshmallow is found in moist places in the U.S. In Europe it is largely cultivated for medicinal use. The whole plant abounds in mucilage, which is especially abundant in the root. The root has a feeble odor and a mild mucilaginous taste. It yields its mucilage to water by decoction. It should be kept dry or it will give a yellowish decoction of unpleasant odor.
The virtues of marshmallow are exclusively those of a demulcent. The ROOTS and the LEAVES have the same properties, but the roots are the stronger.
A decoction of the root is very soothing in irritations and inflammations of the mucous membranes and in coughs due to colds, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and acute and chronic pulmonary troubles. Also in dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid fever, gonorrhea, stranguary, vaginal douche, cystitis, urethritis, and nephritis. In irritations of the kidneys and urinary tract, its soothing effect helps to bring away stone and gravel.
It is most effective in hemorrhage from the urinary organs. For this boil the powdered root in milk and drink freely.
In obstinate inflammation, where mortification threatens, make a poultice of the boiled crushed or powdered root and apply as hot as can be borne. The efficacy of this poultice is such that the root is also called mortification root. The addition of red elm is an advantage.
The leaves and the roots, bruised and boiled, are quite commonly used in external applications as a fomentation or poultice in all manner of swellings, pain, inflammation, abscesses, and festering sores. Make a strong decoction with leaves or roots and wring out a flannel and apply as hot as can be borne for one hour at a time. Repeat as frequently as needed.
- For gathered breasts, gum boils, and neuralgia add chamomile flowers and poppy heads.
- For sprains and swellings, add ragwort.
- A good covering for burns, scalds, and denuded surfaces with the addition of raw linseed oil.
- As a wash and poultice in ophthalmia, add lobelia.
As a wash in inflammation of the eyes, the following is recommended: boil 1 oz. marshmallow root and 1/4 oz. red raspberry leaves in 3/2 pts. water down to 1 pt. Strain and bathe the eyes with the decoction cold 1/2 doz. times daily.
The powdered root is considered excellent for enriching milk in nursing mothers, as well as increasing the flow. Boil the powdered root in milk and drink freely.
The usual infusion of marshmallow is made of 1 oz. leaves in 1 pt. boiling water, taken frequently in wine-glassful doses.
The syrup of marshmallow is made by boiling 8 oz. fresh root, sliced, in 4 pints water. Strain and add 3/2# sugar. Dose 1/2 oz. to 1 oz. The lozenges are also useful in hoarseness, coughs, etc. They are made by adding a little more sugar and mucilage of gum tragacanth to the syrup.