The botanical name for marsh mallow, Althea, means “to heal” in Greek and Malvaceae comes from the Greek word malake or “soft” referring to the soft mucilaginous character of the plant.
Pliny the Elder (23-79AD), Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher, said “Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the Mallows shall that day be free from all diseases that may come to him.” Theophrastus (371- c. 287 BC), successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school of ancient Greece and author of Enquiry into Plants and On the Causes of Plants, described how sweet wine was infused with marsh mallow as a remedy for coughs.
Marsh mallow is a demulcent (an agent that forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane) and valuable whenever a calming effect is required. It soothes and protects mucous membranes, counteracts excess stomach acid, peptic ulcers and gastritis. It is also a mild laxative and beneficial for many intestinal problems, including ileitis (inflammation of the small intestine), diverticulitis (inflammation of the large intestine), colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.