Mucilaginous herbs derive their properties from the polysaccharides they contain. These polysaccharides have a ‘slippery’, mild taste and swell in water, producing a gel-like mass that can be used to soothe and protect irritated tissues in the body, such as dry irritated skin and sore or inflamed mucous membranes.

All plants produce mucilage in some form to store water as hydrates and as a food reserve, for seed dispersal & germination, and as a membrane thickener and stabilizer.

Most mucilage is not broken down by the human digestive system, but absorb toxins from the bowel and give bulk to stool. The major effects of mucilage-rich herbs in the body include:

  • Lower bowel transit time by absorbing water in the colon and creating stool a bulking & softening effect
  • Absorb toxins in the colon
  • Protect against gastric acidity
  • Regulate intestinal flora and protect against ingested toxins or bacteria
  • Relaxes and soothes via the endodermal lining of the gut, and is relaxant & antispasmodic to the lungs and the urinary tract through the spinal reflex.
  • Demulcent & Vulnerary action internally, soothes and protects inflamed or irritated nerve endings in mucous membranes or epithelia.
  • Emollient action externally

Applications of Mucilage

Therapeutically, mucilage can reduce bowel irritation, toxin absorption, cough, bronchial and urinary spasm. Mucilage can also increase expectoration, and is used as a bulking laxative agent  which can “bulk itself up” with the addition of water to sufficiently initiate peristalsis and evacuate the bowels.

Note: Mucilaginous herbs are best prepared by soaking in water.

  • As a tea or gruel in cases of sore throat, laryngitis, pharyngitis, gastritis, colitis, diverticulitis, GERD, gastric or peptic ulcers, cystitis and bronchitis.
  • As a skin wash or topical application in cases of hot, red, inflamed or irritated skin
  • As a sitz bath for hemorrhoids or vaginitis
  • As a drawing poultice for splinters, stings, dirty cuts etc.

Herbal Examples:

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