Marshmallow Tea — Easy And Effective Digestive Strengthening

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I have struggled with severe GERD, ulcers, and esophageal scarring most of my life.    Of course the foods I love the most also wreck the most havoc.  Coffee, heavily spiced foods, wine, and my beloved jalapeno peppers leave me struggling through heart burn and worse.  While heart burn is uncomfortable, I am more concerned with the long term damage unchecked GERD creates.  For me, a holistic approach–including herbal strengthening of my digestive system — has resulted in greater freedom, fewer side effects, and a stronger digestive system than experienced before.  By enjoying my temptations in moderation rather than excess, reducing stress, increasing exercise, and a program of digestive herbal strengthening I have been able to reduce my dependence on Prevacid/Prilosec and can still enjoy my occasional treats!

There are many herbs that assist the digestive system; and, many different ways to incorporate them into daily life.  I will be writing more in the coming weeks discussing these options; but, today I want to talk about Marshmallow Tea.  This herbal tea is not only delicious; but, it is a fantastic option as an “herbal foundation” for digestive health.

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) has been used for thousands of years, across multiple continents and in a variety of cultures as both food and medicine.  Yes, there is a link to the much loved modern marshmallow.  The French used to make a sweet confection with Marshmallow to treat children’s coughs and stomach aches. The introduction of gelatin and corn syrup completely altered the original marshmallow; and became what we know today.  Who would have thought the original inspiration for a beloved campfire treat was the root of a plant!

Historically, Marshmallow has been used to help inflammation in the skin (eczema), the entire digestive tract, and lungs (dry coughs).   It’s leaves and roots contain flavonoids, betaine, beta-carotene, vitamin B, and calcium.  All these are great for nutritional and system health.  But there is another component that makes Marshmallow particularly well suited for it’s historical uses.  It is mucilage — a gummy substance that forms a gel when combined with water.  This gel coats, soothes, reduces inflammation, and moisturizes.  I am not surprised the founders of current medicine would have utilized these traits in strengthening GI tracts assaulted by stomach acid.

The German Commission E has existed since 1978 and is the scientific advisory board that makes recommendations regarding herbal safety and effectiveness to the “Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte.”  This regulatory agency is the German version of the United States FDA.  The German Commission E is comprised of scientists across multiple disciplines that studied hundreds of herbs utilizing clinical studies, case studies, literature, field studies, etc.  Herbal remedies have been used successfully for thousands of years; however, this agency determines which herbs can also be validated through modern scientific inquiry.  Marshmallow root was determined an effective treatment for GI issues and cough.  Click here to see the published monograph.  In the United States, marshmallow has not often been evaluated for effectiveness.  There is one modern scientific study the University of Maryland Medical Center states “confirm[s] that marshmallow preparations help soothe irritated mucous membranes due to:

1)  asthma

2)  Bronchitis

3)  Common cold/sore throat

4)  Cough

5)  Inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)

6)  Indigestion

7)  Stomach ulcers

8)  Skin inflammation

For me personally, I thought the evidence was worth giving Marshmallow tea a shot and I am glad I did.  Marshmallow is a very gentle and safe herb.  However, there are a few precautions:

1)  those with diabetes should monitor blood sugar more closely as one study has shown it may lower blood sugar levels.

2)  Marshmallow coats the stomach the absorption of some medications may be reduced.   If you take other medications ask your doctor for guidance.  You may be able to take your meds so many minutes before or after drinking Marshmallow tea.  But don’t try this without asking your doctor for guidance.

3)  Marshmallow may raise lithium in the body.  If you take lithium do not take Marshmallow without discussing with your doctor.

Now for the fun part.  Making and enjoying Marshmallow Tea!

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What you need:

Two glass quart jars with lids

Dried Marshmallow Root — I either use what is in my garden or purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs.  Here is a link to purchase from them if needed.

strainer and spoon

Directions:

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Place 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of dried marshmallow root in a quart jar.  I use 1/2 because my stomach issues have been longstanding and severe.  Most people would only need 1/4 cup.  Use your judgement.

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Fill the jar with cold water

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Place the lid on and shake. Let sit for at least 30 min. An hour is better and the best is let it sit overnight.  You will notice a waviness to the liquid after a very short period.  This means your tea is becoming strong medicine.  You are seeing the mucilage transferring from the roots into your drink.

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When ready strain into another quart jar.  Use your spoon to press all the liquid you can from the roots.  Add the leftovers to compost.

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Pour a cup and enjoy!   You can drink several cups throughout the day.  Keep refrigerated and throw away any leftovers within a couple days.  It won’t last that long though.  This tea is delicious as is — which is a statement from me.  I am an Alabama girl and I like my drinks sweet.  This is one of the few I don’t need honey to enjoy.  Feel free to leave a comment letting me know your thoughts and if this brew helps!

Disclaimer:

I am not a doctor and each persons health is unique.  All herbal remedies have the possibility of interacting with medication, causing allergy, impacting other health issues, etc.  Information in this article is for information and educational purposes only.  Please check with your doctor before trying any herbal supplement or remedy including Marshmallow tea.  The statements and suggestions in this article are the opinion of the author.  They have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease.

23 thoughts on “Marshmallow Tea — Easy And Effective Digestive Strengthening

  1. Wait… marshmallow is a plant ? I didn’t know that.
    My mother is a pharmacist. She told us that at one time, she couldn’t wear anything made of rubber or leather . I don’t know if it was fungus in her feet or just plain allergy. She was prescribed an expensive ointment called Tinactin, but it had no effect. Then, she remembered something she learned at school…. the leaves of guava are anti fungal. In the Philippines, we had a guava tree at our backyard. So, anyway, she boiled guava leaves , and poured the ” infusion ” on her feet ( as hot as one can tolerate ) Two days after, whatever it was on her feet ( sores ) disappeared, and never came back.

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    • Yes, Marshmallow is a plant. 🙂 The original marshmallow was created by the French long ago using the root. It has been altered so much over time that the marshmallow treat we are familiar with bears little resemblance to the original other than in name. Pretty cool history though. 🙂 Thank you so much for the Guava story!!!! How interesting! Many plants have anti fungal properties that rival pharmaceutical remedies in effectiveness; and, I will do more research on Guava. I love adding more information to the repertoire. Thank you for sharing this!

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  2. Wonderful share here on marshmallow tea. It’s nice to see alternative and holistic remedies here for GERD; something I also deal with. I too stay away from pharmaceuticals best I can. Are you familiar with the healing properties of raw apple cider vinegar for the same issues? It’s helped me immensely. 🙂

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    • Debbie,

      Marshmallow is a beautiful and wonderful plant. So glad to hear you have a patch to enjoy! Both leaves and root can be used medicinally; but, they are used for different purposes. The root is traditionally used for digestive issues such as reflux as it has significantly higher mucilaginous content. This time of year is an excellent time to harvest because the plants energy is returning to the root for winters dormancy. Sadly, to harvest means losing a plant but if you have a large patch and only take a few there should be a strong, healthy, and beautiful patch come Spring. The leaves can be used in teas as well; but, they are more traditionally used to support the lungs and the urinary tract. They moisten dry membranes and soothe irritation in these areas. Of course, many herbalists have discovered beneficial ways to use plants that are “non traditional” for health so I encourage you to research. Let me know what you experience or discover. I love to learn! And thank you for the question. 🙂

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