Prebiotic Electuary (MARSHMALLOW)*

Prebiotics are special plant fibers that support healthy bacteria to grow in your gut by providing them with food. They are carbohydrates that your body can’t digest, so they make it all the way to the colon where they are needed most. Your body’s microorganisms metabolize and ferment the prebiotics. Upon metabolism, byproducts such as short-chain fatty acid are created. These acids are beneficial to your gut’s health because they provide energy to your colon cells, help with mucus production, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Your digestive system is able to work much better

What are some other benefits of prebiotics? They-help your gut absorb calcium and phosphorus from what you eat (improving bone density), affect the glycemic index of foods, ferment food faster so that it spend less time in your digestive system, reduce constipation, keep the cells that line your gut healthy, control obesity, decrease the number of bad bacteria in the gut that cause disease/cancer, stimulate the production of hormones that regulate appetite, and may reduce symptoms associated with IBS.

Although there are many kinds of prebiotics, three of the most common are found in resistant starches, inulin and pectin.

By including digestive herbs like fennel, orang peel and ginger in a prebiotic product you can reduce some of the gas and bloating that may occur from use. The use of prebiotics is contraindicated when it comes to some health conditions. Please consult with your care provider.

What is an electuary? It is a powdered herb mixed with raw honey. The texture can vary from more like a syrup when less powder has been added and the honey used is warmed and runny. Or it can be thick paste that can be rolled into pills or lozenges. Infused honey is usually made with fresh flowers or aromatic herbs that are later strained out. With an electuary you can leave the herb mixed in and consume it together. Electuaries are a great way to consume dried roots, barks, seeds or berries that can be quite coarse and starchy. I like them as daily “tonics” for things like digestion, thyroid issues, or menopause.

Prebiotic Electuary

2 TBSP each finely powdered and mixed well together

Fennel Seed

Star anise

Orange peel


Dandelion root

Dandelion leaves

Chicory Root

Burdock Root

Dried Hyssop

Marshmallow Root

Fill a very clean and dry 4 oz jar with the herb mixture. Use fresh (warm and runny) honey and fill your jar to 3/4 full. Stir with a chop stick until the powder is wet and evenly distributed. Top with more honey and seal. Store in a cool, dry and dark place.

Plants in this family are often hearty perennials, distinguished by their colorful 5 petaled, funnel shaped flowers in all shades. Crushed these have a slimy quality. The stamens unite to form a distinct central column. Marshmallow will be pale purple almost white while malva is purple with darker streaks. Marshmallow stalks can grow up to 5 feet high. Its large leaves are alternate, velvety, heart shaped/palmate and lobed. The fruits mature into button like achenes. Commonly called “cheeses” in the case of malva. The pale slender root has central tap with a few branches.

Both marshmallow and malva have become rare in the wild but grow easily in the garden. Malva is more common in Europe as a medicinal plant but grow it too. It has similar uses to marshmallow as does hollyhock. These plants prefer moist, cool soil and full sun.

Some leaves, flowers, and “cheeses” in this family can be eaten

Others medicinal plants in the family-hollyhock, malva, cotton, roselle (African hibiscus), scarlet globe mallow (yerba negrita). As well as okra, rose of Sharon, decorative tropical hibiscus, low mallow (common weed) which are not considered medicinal.

Plants in the family are high in starchy mucilage (a demulcent that is very gelatinous) which makes them anti-inflammatory and cooling when there is irritation. Their leaves help to clear phlegm, break down/remove damaged tissue, and increase white blood cell activity. The gum and pectins allow it to be whipped into a froth similar to egg whites.

Whether you choose root or leaf, marshmallow/malva will moisten and sooth the respiratory, urinary or digestive systems. Historically it has been used in syrups, decoctions, and infusions. Herbalists have used it for allergies, neuralgia, prostatitis, rheumatism, dry cough, bronchitis, laryngitis, sore throat, asthma, emphysema, tonsillitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, gastritis, ulcers, acid reflux, IBS, leaky gut, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, edema, urinary tract infections, irritable bladder, and kidney/gall stones. It can be used to heal inflamed eyes and vaginal tissues. As a tonic it is thought to nourish the bones, skin, and immune system. Externally it can be used as a drawing poultice on burns, bites, eczema, boils, abscesses, bruises, septic wounds, fractures, mastitis, varicose veins, , sunburn, swellings, and sores that will not heal. It promotes tissue healing and hydrates all tissues. It contains several B vitamins and Vitamin C.

Leaves are at their best harvested after flowering and fresh. Roots are gathered in the fall or spring, peel before using. Use a cold extract process for infusion or decoction. The fresh root can be grated, mixed with honey and used as a poultice. It is often used in desserts around the world. Flowers can be used as edible garnishes, in soothing teas or dried decoratively in bath mixtures.


Energetics-cool, moist, sweet, bitter


Emotional/Spiritual uses-to support luck, abundance, prosperity, connection, receptivity and openness.

Malva and marshmallow are nutritive/tonic herbs that are gentle enough for just about everyone to use. Contraindications-may interfere with the absorption of some prescription medications.

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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