My youngest daughter got blisters on her feet this weekend after a lovely hiking trip. They peeled, oozed and look like holes. The area affected was red and swollen. Painful was an understatement. And she wouldn’t let anyone do anything to them.
When we arrived home, I bribed her with a treat to let me put something on them. I had one shot to get it right, because if she was in any discomfort through the treatment, that was it. She wouldn’t let me near them again, and she would then be stuck with these awful near infected holes in her feet for school and dance class.
The little used leaves of the Althea officinalis plant (marshmallow) were a perfect fit. While the root is typically used, I have found the leaves to be very useful in first aid situations, applying them to hot spots and sores on our dog, and other skin irritations.
I soaked the fresh leaves, picked from the garden, in hot water, and let them slime up. Once cooled, I put a leaf over each blister. The treatment was acceptable to her, and it worked. We applied the leaves soaked this way only 4 times over the course of 3 days. We also covered the sores with giant bandaids through the day, and left them uncovered at night. By Wed., they were almost completely healed. I wish I had pictures to show the difference.
The leaves and root of the marshmallow plant are full of muscilage, which acts like duck tape. It slimes over to coat tissue, mucous membranes or skin, warming the area and increasing water content, which then cools. It is amazing tot see it happen topically, and witness the results. The plant is also demulcent and emollient, which allows it to sooth the irritation, speed healing, and decrease inflammation.
The root is amazing and, as mentioned before, more widely used. The soft velvety leaves are also an amazing medicine, and could probably be used interchangeably in some situations.
Here is an old write up I did on marshmallow root for more information about what this plant is capable of.
Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis): Taste: sweet, salty, cool and mucilaginous Energetics: powerful demulcent for dry tight tissue (respiratory, throat, colon, bladder), emollient to dry skin, anti-inflammatory; mild anti-spasmodic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, mild laxative, tissue tonic for dry membranes. Best way to use this plant: the tea is the only effective method. The best way to extract the medicine is to bring ¼ oz. of dried root to a boil in 1 quart of water. Turn the fire off once boiling, and let sit overnight. Strain and drink as needed throughout the day. Growing conditions: Full sun with moist soil.
Althea officinalis native to Egypt and Africa. Althea, a Greek word means ‘to heal’. And this soft tall plant certainly knows how to do that. It grows 3-4 feet high, and has 3 inch oval leaves that are so soft. The flowers re like all mallow flowers, and their stamens are unified, taking on a kidney shape.
Marshmallow root is a medicine with a specific purpose. It moistens, decreases inflammation when excess dry reigns, soothes irritation, and can express mucous. It is a diuretic and mild laxative as well, making it excellent for those with extreme dry and atrophic conditions and urinary infections with irritation.
I have found it an indispensable tool with my eldest daughter, who at the age of 1 had a tendency toward recurrent croup. It soothes the dryness and swelling in the larynx and throat, and acts as an anti-spasmodic. From here I have found it effective for any respiratory infection, upper or lower, throat or lung, that tended towards extreme dry. Think not only bronchitis, but dry sore throats, and laryngitis as well.
Marshmallow root is a smart and effective healer. The cooling sweet nature brings balance to extreme conditions. It coats the area in distress, softening the tissue and restoring water content in the cells. This doesn’t merely affect the dryness, but also decreases inflammation, acts as an antispasmodic and expectorant.