Most of the Mallows have been used as a food at some point in history. Mallow was treated as a vegetable among the Romans; a particular Marshmallow dish was considered one of their delicacies. The Chinese and the Egyptians were known to eat Mallow. A root extract (halawa) is sometimes used as a flavoring in the making of the Middle Eastern snack, halva.
The root has a taste similar to parsnip and can be boiled first then fried with onions and butter. Young leaves and flowers are tasty in salads or steamed like kale or collard greens. Flowers can be fried for a special treat.
Slippery, slimy, gooey–these are Marshmallow’s beloved attributes that make it so beneficial when it comes to medicinal uses. Roots, leaves, and flowers all contain abundant mucilage.
Its demulcent and emollient properties make it useful in inflammation and irritation of the alimentary canal, as well as the urinary and respiratory organs. It is used for ulcers, urinary tract infections, and dry coughs. It can also be used externally for healing wounds and burns. One of its historic names was Mortification Root because of its claimed ability to prevent gangrene. In Chinese Medicine, Marshmallow root is considered a yin tonic. It can be used for signs of deficient heat such as hot flashes, five palm heat, and night sweats. It is both cooling and moistening.
Marshmallow can be drunk as a tea, used externally as a wash, made into a syrup or lozenges, or used as a powder infused into water, honey, or ghee. All parts of the plant can be infused into an oil for use as a salve or ointment. From a chemical constituent perspective, Marshmallow root is best used as a cold infusion as its mucilaginous polysaccharides become thick and viscous when soaked in water. When heated during simmering, you will also extract the starches, which is fine, but it will be less demulcent. Alcohol over 20% will break down the polysaccharides.
Marshmallow root is considered a protective and cleansing herb and can be added to incense blends. It was often traditionally used in departing rituals to honour the dead to help ensure a “smooth” and peaceful transition.