Today I harvested Marshmallow leaf. You only have to brush against it to understand that it is a wonderful healing demulcent herb. Marshmallow leaf has a high level of mucilage which accounts for its ability to soothe the mucous membranes either externally on the skin, or internally in the urinary or respiratory tracts.
I use a lot of this herb in my clinic so this is one that I cultivate at my field. I have learnt to harvest the leaves early in the summer while they are at the peak of condition since later in the year they seem to be afflicted by a combination of powdery mildew and rapacious insect damage. The roots can be harvested in the autumn, but it is a tough job to dig them out!
I use the fresh leaves to make tincture and then I dry a good lot of them to use either in capsules, teas or poultices for patients. Marshmallow leaf is really good to include in a general anti-inflammatory and soothing prescription for people suffering from various aches and pains, especially joint degeneration. Although not strictly categorized as an anti-inflammatory herb, I feel that its demulcent and vulnerary properties come into play in these situations. It certainly works well in a prescription with other more conventional anti-inflammatory herbs such as Wild yam and Ginger.
In terms of Tibetan Medicine it has a sweet taste and this means that it is rich in the earth element. As we get older we are more likely to suffer from an excess of ‘rlung’ (related to the air element), Marshmallow leaf with its sweet earthy quality will counteract this and this is one of the reasons why it is often indicated in prescriptions for more elderly patients. However it is not reserved specifically for one particular age group. Its wonderfully soothing and healing properties can be utilized at any age.
As it is so helpful in cases of irritating coughs, I like to include it in my herbal cough elixir, so this is the time of year to make more batches of this. Externally Marshmallow leaf is excellent for applying to wounds which are stubborn to heal.
If you are establishing a herb garden make sure you give space to a couple of Marshmallow plants. You won’t regret it.
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