—Althcaea Officinalis.—A plant of the natural order Malvaceae. Marshmallows have soft hairy white stalks, rising three or four feet high, with many branches, the leaves are hairy, less than the other Mallow leaves, but longer pointed, cut into some few divisions, but deep. The flowers are many, but smaller than the other Mallows, and white, sometimes with a reddish taint; after which come long round cases and seeds, as in the other Mallows. The roots are many and long, shooting from one head, of the size of a thumb or finger, very pliant, tough, and like liquorice, of a whitish yellow colour on the outside, and whiter within.
Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Uses of Marshmallow:
Pliny says that whosoever shall take a spoonful of the juice shall that day be free from all diseases, and that it is specially good for the falling-sickness. The syrup and conserve made of the flowers, are effectual for the same diseases, and to open the body when costive. The leaves bruised, and laid to the eyes with a little honey, take away imposthumes, and to persons stung with bees, wasps, etcetera., it presently takes away pains, redness, and swellings caused by them. A poultice made of the leaves, boiled and bruised, with some bean or barley flour, and oil of roses, is a special remedy against hard tumours, inflammations, imposthumes, or swellings of the privates and other parts, and against hardness of the liver or spleen, being applied to the places.
The juice of the Mallows boiled in oil takes away scurf, roughness of the skin, dandruff, or dry scabs in the head, if they be anointed with it, or washed with the decoction; it preserves the hair from falling off. It is also effectual against scaldings, burnings, St. Anthony's fire, and other hot and painful swellings.
The flowers boiled in oil or water, with a little honey and alum, is an excellent gargle to cleanse, or heal a sore mouth or throat. The green leaves, (says Pliny) beaten with nitre, and applied, draw out thorns or prickles in the flesh. The decoction is first rate for Oysters to ease all pains of the body, opening the urinary passages, making them slippery that the stone may descend easily, and without pain, out of the kidneys and bladder, and to ease the torturing pains. But the roots are the most powerful for coughs, shortness of breath, hoarseness. The roots and seeds boiled in wine and water, are successfully used by those who have inflammation of the intestines, or the bloody-flux.
Boiled in wine, it is a good wash for scrofulous sores, imposthumes of the throat; the dried roots boiled in milk, is good for the Hooping-cough. Hippocrates gave the decoction of the roots or the juice to those who were wounded, arid faint through loss of blood, and he applied the same, mixed with honey and rosin to the wounds. It is healing to bruises, falls or blows, or bones out of joint, or any swelling, pain, or ache in the muscles, sinews or arteries. The mucilage of the roots, and of linseed and fenugreek mixed, is much used in poultices, ointment, and plaisters, to soften and remove hard inflamed swellings, and to ease pains in any part of the body.
My son had the bloody-flux with great excoriation of the bowels. I was in the country at the time but was sent for. I gave him nothing but bruised Mallows and in two days he was cured.
About 4 or 5 ounces of the dried root, 2 ounces of raisins, freed from their seeds, put into 5 pints of water, and boiled down to 3 pints, and then strained, is a good form of administration. Half a wine-glass to be taken frequently to allay cough and irritation. The addition of liquorice, coltsfoot, and horehound, would make it still more pectoral.
The syrup of Marshmallows is made by boiling 8 ounces of the fresh root sliced, in 4 pints of water; adding 21 lbs. of lump sugar; dose half an ounce to 1 ounce. The ointment of Marshmallows is a very healing application. The lozenges are also very useful in hoarseness, coughs, etcetera. They may be made of the syrup by adding a little more Sugar, and Mucilage of Gum Tragacanth.
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