Marshmallow (Yao Shu Kui)

Botanical Name: Althaea officinalis

Marshmallow is a wonderful plant for treating both hot dry and hot damp acute conditions. The plant is famous for its moistening properties. Marshmallow is also used to coat sore throats, treat irritated hot bladder infections and lubricate hot achy joint pain. Don’t confuse it with blue mallow, a similar plant but different species that is mostly used externally. Marshmallow is not the candied marshmallows used in desserts, but it can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable.

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Dry up and cool Damp Heat.

Remember to check with your doctor before trying new medicines or herbal remedies, especially if you are taking other medication where drug interactions are possible.

Below is an overview of Marshmallow, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Marshmallow.

How to take FULL advantage of Marshmallow's healing powers...

JOIN ME in an exploration of the healing herb, Marshmallow (Yao Shu Kui). Dive deep into the benefits and applications of Marshmallow, from Eastern and Western perspectives, and so much more!


Western Name: Marshmallow

Also Known As: Mortification Root, Sweetweed, Cheeses, Cheese Flower

Organs/Systems: Lungs, Stomach, Bladder, Large Intestine

Key Actions: Anti-inflammatory, Demulcent, Expectorant, Emollient, Mild Laxative, Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, Antitussive, Digestive, Analgesic, Mucigenic, Diuretic

Medicinal Uses: Coughs, urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin conditions, wounds, colds and flus, stomach ulcers, urinary stones, congestion, sore throat, bronchitis, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, heartburn, dry mouth, leaky gut, edema, bloating, PMS, tonsillitis.


Pin Yin: Yao Shu Kui

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Stomach, Lungs, Bladder, San Jiao (Triple Burner)

Key Actions: Promotes Yin, Clears Heat, Reduces Inflammation, Softens Boils, Clears Damp, Moistens the Sinews, Promotes Lactation

Medicinal Uses: Moistens the Lungs, sore throat, unproductive dry cough, dry mouth, congestion, pneumonia, pleurisy, constipation, swollen gums, wet diarrhea, stomach ulcers, heartburn, leaky gut, mucous cystitis, bladder infections, local skin infections with putrification, boils, ulcers, abscesses, mastitis, cuts and burns, sprains, aching muscles and joints, fibromyalgia, repairs gut lining, lactation, breast pain caused by breastfeeding, insect bites.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Marshmallow is an erect perennial that can grow to 3 or 4 feet tall with a strong tap root that is yellowish on the outside. The stem and leaves are covered in soft hairs, and the grayish-green leaves are rounded to triangular in shape with pointed and serrated edges. The flowers are five-petaled and either pale pink or white. The flowers give way to round flattish fruits known as “cheeses.”

Marshmallow is an African plant that is abundant in tropical regions and now grown in most countries in Europe from Denmark southward and around the world. It likes salt marshes, damp meadows or growing by the sea on tidal rivers.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf, Root, Flower

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Cooling, Slightly Bitter

Caution: Considered safe, a few people may experience an upset stomach or dizziness.

Key Constituents: Flavonoids, Asparagine, Starch, Mucilage polysaccharides, (up to 35% in the roots), Pectin, Tannins, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Trace Minerals, Malic acid, Phytosterols

History/Folklore: Marshmallow has been used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Indian cultures as a medicine. It is mentioned in Homer’s the Iliad (written 2800 years ago). Ancient Egyptians used the soft, spongy pith of the plant boiled with honey to make chewy candy-like substance favored by the Pharaohs and nobility. This is the ancient beginnings of our modern day marshmallow candy.

The plant’s Latin name, Althaea, derives from the word “Althara” which comes from the Greek word for cure.

The Roman herbalist, Pliny said, “Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the Mallows shall that day be free from all diseases that may come to him.” The Romans consumed the boiled root that was creamed like butter as a culinary delicacy.

The French ate the young tops of marshmallow in salads as a kidney tonic and also whipped the sap into a fluffy confection. It has been used in Syria, as a food and during times of famine has been known to help keep rural poor populations alive.

The sweet treat also called marshmallow, was originally made from marshmallows. Today commercially made marshmallow uses gelatin instead.

The entire marshmallow plant contains high-grade mucilage that helps coat sore throats, skin, upset stomachs, and irritated intestines.

Marshmallow is a pure demulcent, moistening but not also nourishing in the way that many other demulcents are such as slippery elm and Irish moss. The plants ability to both moisten dry intestines as well as treat Damp Heat are important attributes and useful in treating many hot, damp, acute conditions.

Teas containing both the roots and the leaves seem to be more effective than just using the roots or the leaves individually.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, by virtue of the plants moistening abilities, it is considered a Yin herb that is also excellent for treating Damp Heat conditions.

Marshmallow bark has been used as a hemp substitute.

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Did you know?

NOT Blue Mallow

Don’t confuse marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) with blue mallow (Malva sylvestris). They have similar properties, but blue mallow is mostly used externally.


Eaten in Times of Famine

Marshmallows are used as flavoring agents in food. When the roots are boiled first and fried with onions and butter, they can be enjoyed as a food. In the Bible and Middle East, it is said that mallow plants were eaten in times of famine.
Fun fact!

Marshmallow Tea

If making a tea with marshmallow, use cold water not hot, in order to preserve the mucilagenic properties.

How to use Marshmallow (Yao Shu Kui) and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!

Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Dive deep into Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works. Includes uses, benefits, essential oils, gardening tips, and much, much more.

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ATTENTION: All material provided on this website is for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional or physician. Redistribution permitted with attribution. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Whole. Be Free.

ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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