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Marshmallows Good for More Than Toasting

There are millions who could benefit from this

There are millions who could benefit from this inexpensive, amazing concoction made of water and a plant root called marshmallow, not the fluffy, white confectionary sort, but the ancient herb known by herbalists as Althea officinalis. Photo Credit: iStock

Dear Pharmacist: Last month, you wrote about herbal teas, specifically marshmallow root. You shocked me when you said this herb is “soothing to the mouth, esophagus and digestive tract; great for people with heartburn.” Suzy, I’ve been hurting for years and no one has ever mentioned marshmallow root. Please tell me how to make this tea. -- J.G., Gainesville, Fla.

I created a YouTube video to teach people how to make it. There are millions who could benefit from this inexpensive, amazing concoction made of water and a plant root called marshmallow. I’m not referring to the fluffy white confectionary sort, I mean the ancient herb known by herbalists as Althea officinalis. It’s sold at herbal apothecaries, online herb shops, and some health food stores.

If you have a dry, hacking cough, sore throat, mouth or tongue sores, bronchitis, reflux (GERD), heartburn, peptic ulcers, hiatal hernia, Crohn’s, Celiac, irritable bowel, indigestion, diarrhea, H. pylori infection, then my remedy can help you. The magic happens because marshmallow root contains a lot of mucilage, a gooey gelatinous substance that some plants naturally produce. It acts as a demulcent, so a soothing film coats the irritated mucus membranes, thus reducing pain and inflammation quickly. This is the primary mechanism of action, although marshmallow root also adds moisture, reduces inflammation and acts as a mild diuretic. That reminds me, if you deal with cystitis, kidney, bladder or urinary tract infections, marshmallow will soon become your best friend. My video shows you how to make a cold marshmallow root infusion. I’ll summarize it here, but if it isn’t clear, please watch my video.

Add four tablespoons dried marshmallow root to four cups water and put in a jar. There’s no need to heat this ‘tea.’ Refrigerate for four hours, then you can drink some liquid. Filter out your dose each time you want some so you are not eating herb (that gets tossed). Your dose is about a two or three tablespoons. If there is gooeyness in the filter as you strain, then squish it down with a spoon, to get all the mucilaginous material through the strainer, that's where the "medicine" is.

The tea keeps for three days in the fridge. If you have belly problems, try drinking smaller doses four times a day. Consider adding other gut soothing herbs like dried ginger root or fresh peppermint leaves. Separate administration a few hours away from your medication or it will lessen the drug’s effect.

Marshmallow root tea tastes great and you’ll be tempted to chug it like iced tea. I’ve had to pry a big glass of it away from Sam, because he loves how I make it with cinnamon and vanilla bean. The Colorado climate dries our skin, so that’s why we drink it. Anyone can make it, and you’ll be glad you did.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your disease. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. To ask her a question or to learn more about your health, visit DearPharmacist.com.

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