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WALA Plant Library
Marsh mallow

Synonyms: mallow, white mallow, common marsh-mallow, marshmallow, mortification root, sweet weed, wymote
Scientific Name: Althaea officinalis L.
Family: Malvaceae

Habitat

The Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the eastern Mediterranean.

Constituents

Mucilage, pectin, flavonoids.

Description

Any gardening enthusiast must have come across mallows. Their perennial brother, the marsh mallow, is very similar to them, as would be expected as they are from the same family. It is also called the white mallow because, unlike its sister, it has white flowers which are however a light violet at the base. Large and arranged in bunches, they open from June until August. Striking are the strongly notched leaves, which are arranged in spirals on the stems that grow up to a height of 1.50 m. They are covered on both sides with velvety, felt-like hairs and have a bluish-green appearance. The marsh mallow is best-suited to salt-containing or chalky soils. It is also at home in damp meadows and on embankments.

Uses

As well as the leaves, it is mainly the root of the marsh mallow that is used, which is harvested from the two-year old plant and has been valued from ancient times because of its high mucilage content. It is used internally against stomach pains, diarrhoea and intestinal complaints, chronic asthma, silicosis and emphysema, coughs and inflammation of the oral and pharyngeal cavity including the gums. It is used externally for wounds and burns to the skin, for boils and carbuncles. In all these cases the mucilage covers the wounded or burned part like a protective layer and enables it to heal more quickly.

The flowers and leaves of the marsh mallow have their place as an agent in the home. A paste boiled from the leaves is placed on wounds. Boiled with honey, the flowers provide a cough remedy. A simple solution against headache is to chew the unprepared marsh mallow root.

The marsh mallow is also used in cosmetics, soap, skincare products, shaving lotion, skin lotion, mouthwash and toothpaste.

Interesting facts

Virgil found the marsh mallow among the Celts of the plain of the Po and recorded its name in Latin as "ibiscum". In Old High German this became "ibisca", in Middle High German "ibische", and then later it became "Eibisch" (the German name for marsh mallow). The scientific name Altheae comes from the Greek "althein" = to heal.

Charlemagne encouraged the growing of marsh mallow in small gardens on farms on account of its beneficial effect.

There is a popular belief that burning marsh mallow cleanses and cleans the house and the farm. The mucilage in which converted sugar is stored is the energy reserve of the marsh mallow.

The mucilage content of the marsh mallow root therefore increases throughout the winter and, from spring, when the energy is needed for growth, decreases again. This is why the marsh mallow root is harvested in winter in the WALA medicinal plant gardens, generally from the middle of January on dry days.

Use in Skin Care and Remedies

Dr.Hauschka skincare products use both the leaves and the roots because of their moisturising properties.

An essence of the leaves is found in Dr. Hauschka Quince Day Cream, Daily Hydrating Eye Cream, Regenerating Neck and Décolleté Cream, Almond Soothing Body Cream, Renewing Night Conditioner, Soothing Intensive Treatment and Regenerating Intensive Treatment, Nourishing Hair Conditioner, Foundation and in Dr.Hauschka Med Sage Mouthwash. An extract of the root drug is used in Hydrating Hand Cream, Rose Day Cream, Rose Day Cream light, Regenerating Day Cream, Regenerating Body Cream and Firming Mask.

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