Marvels of Marshmallow
& Highlights of Hyaluronic Acid
(& Ode to Laurel)
Although Marshmallow started as my topic for this blog post I quickly realized it became bigger than one plant. I thank Marshmallow for this – it has so much flexibility I was allowed to wander a bit with my thoughts and writing. To me, it is a comforting and feminine plant and I feel the fluidity it holds.
Marshmallow is one of my beloved plant helpers. My fondness for this gem has grown exponentially since I started using Laurel Skin products years ago. Laurel is a skin-specific herbalist and is also a big fan of Marshmallow and she uses it in some of my favorite products. Laurel is very generous with her knowledge of herbalism and I’ve learned so much from her about plant chemistry and energetics as well as how magnificent plants are as skin food and partners in health.
The scientific name for Marshmallow is Althaea Officianalis; altha in Greek means “to cure”. It is in the Mallow family, along with Cotton, Hollyhock, and Hibiscus. The leaves and roots of Marshmallow have been used as medicine and food since ancient times. It is used by herbalists to help soothe the digestive system, urinary tract, and respiratory system.
Marshmallow is very mucilaginous. It is cooling, soothing, moistening and helpful for calming inflammation. In skin food, this plant is extremely helpful for dry, dehydrated and inflamed skin. It is known as “Nature’s Hyaluronic Acid” because it is lubricating and gooey.
You have most likely heard of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) because it’s one of the big flashy synthetic ingredients used in skincare currently. In its natural form, HA is a substance that our bodies produce to keep our tissues hydrated and lubricated and it is found mostly in our skin, eyes and connective tissue. Some of the functions of HA are wound repair, joint lubrication, and tissue regeneration. It is an important factor in keeping our skin elastic and allowing the passage of nutrients into our tissues. One of the big contributors to aging skin is loss of moisture, and because this gooey substance has the capacity to bind and retain moisture, it is integral to healthy skin.
Back to Marshmallow – because it has this gooey, mucilaginous quality, it hydrates deeply and helps fortify the skin’s protective barrier. It is also wonderful food for our skin’s unique and diverse microbiome, due to its starchy carbohydrates that our bacteria like to eat. Marshmallow is also loaded with other nutrients such as B Vitamins (preventing irritated skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis), Betaine (an amino acid that is a humectant and quiets inflammation), Ferulic Acid (a polyphenol that is protective against UV damage), Quercetin (a flavonoid that is a powerful antioxidant), to name a few.
You may notice that many of these super nutrients that are constituents in Marshmallow are on the ingredient lists for many skincare products. The difference? Conventional skincare companies, and even many lines using the label of organic, natural or green, are using Isolated Synthetic Nutrients (ISNs) made in a lab rather than whole plant ingredients made by Mother Nature. ISNs are quite forceful to the skin and not as bioavailable as whole plant ingredients because many other chemical compounds need to be added for them to work, as they are not coming in with the other necessary constituents to help them do their jobs. Whole plant ingredients are already partnered with the many other phytochemicals that make them bioavailable and balanced. Not only are whole-plant ingredients more stable, effective and nutritious, but these ingredients also are not putting an unwanted load on the body for processing and eliminating lab derived ingredients.
I notice that I am having difficulty staying on track with the Marshmallow topic and feel that there is so much to talk about even when a single plant is the focus. I think the skincare industry is frightening and I am so grateful to have found Laurel because of her drive to stay true to her love of plants and her generosity in sharing her knowledge and creations. In a world where many people don’t stand by their word, her conviction to be a warrior for Nature and walk her talk is an inspiration. When I became an Esthetician 20+ years ago, finding a company like this was my dream. It took a while but now each day as I lovingly take care of myself and revel in the magic behind each of the products I use I smile and take in what gratitude truly feels like.
Marshmallow is a key ingredient in the following LWPO products:
Hydrating Elixir I
Roots mask in the Abundant Harvest series
P.S. Marshmallow is not shown in my photo.