Athea or Marshmallow Root
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Althea Root, Marshmallow Root ALTHEA ROOT
(also known as Marshmallow Root)
 
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Botanical:   Althaea officinalis
Family:  Malyaceae (mallow)
Other common names:   Marshmallow, Mortification Root, Sweet Weed, Wymote, Mallards, Hock Herb, Schloss Tea

Troubled by asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory problems?  Althea Root's high natural mucilage content makes it a soothing and effective respiratory system supplement.   As such, it aids the body in expelling excess fluid and mucus and will soothe the mucous membranes and a dry, hacking cough.  It is an old time remedy for helping to manage bladder infection, digestive upsets, fluid retention, intestinal disorders, kidney problems, sinusitis and sore throat.   Althea is a natural source of beta-carotene, amino acids, minerals and vitamins and is often used as a filler in the compounding of pills. Althea Root soothes!

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
Althea Root or Marsh Mallow is a rich source of healing mucilage and its genus name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek althe (to cure). The use of Althea Root originated in traditional Greek medicine and later spread to Arabian and Indian Ayurvedic medicine.  Long used as a healing herb, Althea Root was eaten by the Egyptians and Syrians and mentioned by Pythagoras, Plato and Virgil.  The plant was enjoyed by the Romans in barley soup and in a stuffing for suckling pig, while classical herbalists praised its gentle laxative properties. It was used in Persia to relieve inflammation in teething babies; and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne (A.D. 800-814), insisted that Althea be planted throughout his kingdom,. In the nineteenth century, some doctors made a meringue from the plant's root juices, egg whites and sugar, which hardened into a medicinal candy that was used to soothe children's sore throats. Althea Root is a hardy perennial that grows best in wet, marshy areas, thriving in salt marshes, damp meadows, by the sea or sides of ditches, and on the banks of tidal rivers. The plant bears hibiscus-like blossoms of light red to white or purple in color and may grow to a height of four to six feet.  All parts of the plant are used in various ways, i.e., medicinal, decorative, culinary and cosmetic purposes, but the root is mainly used for medicinal purposes.  Althea Root is rich in mucilage, polysaccharides, flavonoids (quercetin), kaempferol, amino acids, betaine, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, salicylic acid, scopoletin, sorbitol, vanillic acid, asparagine, tannins, lecithin, paraffin, pectin, acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, beta-carotene, B-vitamins and vitamin C.

Beneficial Uses:
Althea (Marshmallow) Root's particular excellence involves soothing irritated tissue and relieving various forms of inflammation, especially of the mucous membranes, since it is high in mucilage which is very soothing to the membranes. It aids the body in expelling excess fluid and mucus. The herb is used in many lung preparations and cough syrups to alleviate a dry, hacking cough, whooping cough and laryngitis. As a cough suppressant, Althea soothes the membranes, frequently inhibiting the cough. The herb is also known to be a fine expectorant, helping to loosen and expel phlegm from the lungs.

Because it contains salicylic acid (the natural forerunner of synthetic aspirin), Althea has been used to ease the pain of headache and muscle aches; and along with its ability to expel excess fluid and mucus, it also helps to relieve sore throat and sinusitis.

Althea Root is an old-time herbal remedy for gastrointestinal disorders, helping to strengthen the digestive system, because it contains polysaccharides that form a protective layer on the stomach lining, and it will also help to reduce stomach acids.  Its exceptional demulcent and emollient properties make it useful for inflammation and irritation of the alimentary canal, and the herb is frequently used to soothe the intestinal tract and alleviate indigestion, ulcers, peptic ulcers, Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome( IBS) and colitis.

As a diuretic, Althea Root promotes the flow of urine and rids the body of excess fluid.  It has been used to improve kidney function, soothe the urinary tract and relieve cystitis and bladder infections. The active constituents in Althea are large carbohydrate (sugar) molecules, which make up the mucilage, and this smooth, slippery substance can soothe and protect irritated mucous membranes, making it helpful in providing some minor relief for the urinary tract and kidneys.

Althea Root improves the functioning of the immune system, since it is known to stimulate phagocytosis, the immune process in which cells called macrophages engulf and digest infectious micro-organisms that attack healthy cells and cause serious disease.

Althea Root may be used externally in an ointment as an emollient to soften and soothe skin and dry hands. The mucilages form a protective layer on damaged skin and heals.  Used internally and externally, the high mucilage content will also promote rapid healing of diaper rash, skin ulcers, sunburns, psoriasis, eczema and problem skin.

Contraindications:  Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of Althea Root; however, taking Althea and iron together may reduce the absorption of the iron.

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