February 25, 2015

Things You Never Knew You Could Do With Marshmallows

When most people hear marshmallow, they think of the white fluffy food treat commonly roasted at campfires. Marshmallow, however, is also a type of herb. Marshmallow, known scientifically as Althaea officinalis, is an African plant with short roundish leaves and small pale flowers. It was originally used medicinally by the Egyptians. Its usage was later adopted by the French. Today, it has a wide variety of medicinal uses.

Toe Separators: Instead of threading twisted tissue between toes during your next home pedicure, stuff medium-size marshmallows between your little piggies. They’re great separators that will make polishing a snap.
Edible Glue: Melted marshmallows makes a great glue for decorations that tend to slip off the top or sides of cakes.
Birthday Candle Holder: Birthday cake candles need never topple over or melt onto cake again. Place each candle into a small marshmallow first. After you’ve blown out the candles, just remove the marshmallow holders, and you have a lovely cake without candle holes.
Brown Sugar Softener: After you open a bag of brown sugar, add a few large marshmallows and reseal. Marshmallows will absorb moisture and keep the sugar soft.
Soothe Sore Throats: The soft confection and the gelatin that binds it can help soothe an irritated throat. Marshmallows also have been used to draw pus from an abscess.
Cake Protectors: To keep wrapping from touching icing when you transport a cake, place a few large marshmallows on the tops and side of the cake. When you arrive, unwrap and discard (in your mouth) the marshmallows.
Cone Stop: Place a small marshmallow in the bottom of an ice cream cone to stop melted ice cream from pouring out the bottom.
 Marshmallow is most commonly used to ease sore throats and dry coughs. The Marshmallow plant, especially the leaves and roots, contains polysaccharides that have antitussive, mucilaginous, and antibacterial properties. Because of this, marshmallow has a soothing effect on inflamed membranes in the mouth and throat when ingested orally, specifically a sore throat. The antitussive properties help reduce dry coughing and prevent further irritation.

More recently, marshmallow has been used to treat certain digestive disorders, including heartburn, indigestion, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers and Chron's disease. The mechanism by which it soothes sore throats applies to gastrointestinal mucosa as well and regular consumption of marshmallow can help with the pain of ulcerative colitis and Chron's, and prevent stomach ulcers from perforation. Marshmallow extract is sometimes added to creams and used to treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and contact dermatitis. Additional uses are currently being investigated. Marshmallow may be a helpful aid to radiologic esophageal examination. There is tentaive evidence that marshmallow may also help with respiratory disorders such as asthma. Researchers may soon test marshmallow as a natural alternative to blood sugar management in diabetes.

Mechanism of Action

Marshmallow works as a mucilage, producing a thick sticky substance that coats membranes. Marshmallow extract contains flavanoids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties. The flavanoids are able to reduce inflammation while the mucilage holds them in place and prevents further damage. The extracts also induce phagocytosis, which is the process in which certain cells engulf bacteria, dead cell tissues or other solid particles. This helps speed up the healing process. The mucilage remains unaltered until it reaches the colon, which is why marshmallow works well on most inflammatory digestive disorders.

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