Demulcent Herbs and Gastritis – Marshmallow, Slippery Elm, Mullein

HERB 201

Demulcents

"Herbs high in mucilage, known as demulcents, soothe and protect irritated or inflamed tissue. They reduce irritation through the length of the bowel, reduce sensitivity to potentially corrosive gastric acids, help prevent diarrhea and alleviate the muscle spasms that cause colic . . . "

Quote from pg. 244 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Gastritis

“A whole range of pathologies may underlie this common complaint. Strictly speaking, the term gastritis means inflammation of the gastric mucosa, the tissue that lines the stomach. A number of medical subdivisions are based upon the various pathological changes that can occur in the tissue, but from an herbal perspective, these distinctions are not crucial . . .”

Quote from pg. 271 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Demulcent Herbs

“Demulcent herbs are rich in mucilage and can soothe and protect irritated or inflamed internal tissue. When used topically on the skin, demulcents are called emollients. As with other herbal actions, pharmacology does not provide an adequate explanation for how demulcents work. They are rich in carbohydrate mucilage made up of complex polysaccharide molecules. This physical property has a clear and direct action on the lining of the intestines, where it soothes and reduces irritation by direct contact . . . ”

Quote from pg. 505 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Herbal Demulcents

  • Althea officinalis (marshmallow)
  • Avena sativa (oat)
  • Cetraria islandica (Iceland moss)
  • Chondrus crispus (Irish moss)
  • Elymus repens (couch grass)
  • Glycrrhiza glabra (licorice)
  • Linum usitatissimum (flax)
  • Malva sylvestris (mallow)
  • Symphytum officinale (comfrey)
  • Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
  • Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)
  • Verbascum thapsus (mullein)
  • Zea mays (cornsilk)

From pg. 506 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Marshmallow – Althea officinalis L.

“Because of the abundance of mucilage it contains, marshmallow is an excellent demulcent that is indicated whenever such an action is needed. Marshmallow root has been used primarily in the digestive system, and leaf in the urinary system and lungs. All inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract will benefit from the application of marshmallow root, including inflammations of the mouth, gastritis, peptic ulceration, and colitis. Leaf helps in cystitis, urethritis, and urinary gravel, as well as bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, and irritating coughs."

Quote from pg. 526 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Slippery Elm – Ulmus rubra Muhl.

“Slippery elm is a soothing, nutritive demulcent that is perfectly suited for treating sensitive or inflamed mucous membrane linings in the digestive system. The herb may be used in gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcer, enteritis, colitis, and similar conditions. Used to treat diarrhea, it simultaneously soothes and astringes the tissues of the intestinal lining. Slippery elm makes an excellent food to be eaten during convalescence, as it is mild and easily assimilated . . . "

Quote from pg. 591 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Mullein – Verbascum thapsus L.

“Mullein is a very beneficial respiratory remedy, useful for most conditions and ideal for toning the mucous membranes of this vital system. The herb reduces inflammation while stimulating fluid production, thus facilitating expectoration. It is considered a specific for bronchitis characterized by a hard cough with soreness. Its anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties indicate its use for inflammation of the trachea and associated conditions . . ."

Quote from pg. 592 of: Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

5005 S. Macadam Ave, Portland, OREGON • achs.edu/consumer-disclosures • DEAC ACCREDITED