Originally, marshmallows were made from the root sap of the marsh
mallow (Althaea officinalis) plant. It is a genus of herb
that is native to parts of Europe, north Africa, and Asia. Marsh
mallows grow in marshes and other damp areas. The plant has a fleshy
stem, leaves, and pale, five-petaled flowers. The first
marshmallows were made by boiling pieces of the marsh mallow root
pulp with sugar until it thickened. After it had thickened, the
mixture was strained and cooled. As far back as 2000 B.C.,
Egyptians combined the marsh mallow root with honey. The candy was
reserved for gods and royalty.
This plant actually has a very long medicinal history that starts
with the Egyptians and moves to Charlemagne who promoted its
cultivation in Europe. Hypocrites used it as a wound healer. Its
generic name Althaea comes form the Greek Altho to heal and Malake
'soft' because of its special softening and healing qualities. The Chinese, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Armenians, in times
of famine or failure of their crops, subsisted on wild herbs, the
Marshmallow being one of these.
Use the flowers as an excellent expectorant in cough syrups. The
leaves of Marshmallow are used for healing bronchial and urinary
disorders. The Marshmallow root is for healing mucous membranes
as in gastritis, esophagitis, enteritis, and peptic ulceration.
Doctor John R. Christopher in his book 'Every Woman's Herbal' cites
the case of one of his students who treated a woman who had burned
one foot which had gone gangrene in the foot with infection to her
knee. She was advised at the hospital where she was being treated
that the only cure was amputation at the ankle. Under Doctor
Christopher's advice the student prepared a tea using the entire
Marshmallow plant and soaked the woman's leg in it at a temperature
as hot as she could stand, then soaked
in cold water and back into a
fresh batch of tea throughout the day. The next day the pain was
gone. They repeated the procedure and within 48 hours, the
gangrene had left the ankle and foot.
Every part of the plant is used. Astringent, Absorbent-soothing,
Demulcent, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Galactagogue, Laxative,
Lithotriptic, Mucilant, Nutritive, Tonic, Vulnerary. Marshmallow
will also increase flow and enrich nursing mothers milk.
Today Marshmallow is still known as a confectionary, as in the
marshmallows we roast in campfires at picnics. But they do not
roast like they used to, read the label to see why. The
label on a
bag of marshmallows today no longer lists any Marshmallow.
marshmallows are mostly sugar.