Marshmallow root and leaf have a high mucilage content, which calms inflammation, nourishes bone marrow, soothes and moistens the skin, and promotes tissue healing. Marshmallow is especially useful in soothing irritation in the respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal tracts. As a tonifying herb, it can aid children’s growth and development. It also can help calm an overactive immune system and, because it helps stimulate white blood cell production, can function as an immune tonic. It decreases the nerve sensitivity that causes coughs.

Botanical Name

Althaea officinalis

Part Used

Root, Leaf.

Common Names

althea, cheeses, mortification root, sweet weed, wymote; Slaz lekarski (Polish); Echter Eibisch (German)

Brief History

Althaea officinalisThe plant’s history as a medicinal goes back to Theophrastus (372-286BC) who reported that marshmallow root was taken in sweet wine for coughs. Hippocrates prescribed a decoction of marshmallow roots to treat bruises and blood loss from wounds. The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended marshmallow root poultices for insect bites and stings and prescribed the decoction for toothache and vomiting and as an antidote to poisons.

10th-century Arab physicians used mallow leaf poultices to treat inflammations, and early European folk healers used marshmallow root both internally and externally for its soothing action in addressing toothache, sore throat, digestive upsets, and urinary irritation. Culpeper recommended it, and by the mid-19th century, it was included in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. In the 9th century, Emperor Charlemagne ordered marshmallow cultivated in his monasteries.

Constituents

Mucilage, 18-35%: consisting of some polysaccharides: one is composed of L-rhamnose, D-galactose, D-galacturonic acid and D-glucuronic acid; another a highly branched L-arabifuranan, another a trisaccharide structural unit and one with a high proportion of uronic acid units; about 35% pectin, 1-2% asparagines, tannins.

Therapeutic Properties

Demulcent, diuretic, vulnerary, emollient.

Vitalist Properties

Temperature: Cool

Moisture: Moist

Therapeutic Indications

Irritations of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa, dry cough. Bronchitis, respiratory tract catarrh. Cystitis, urethritis, urinary gravel or calculus. Topical treatment for abscesses, boils, and ulcers

Primary Uses

Cough and Laryngitis

Approximately 35 percent of the weight of the marshmallow root comes from mucilage, which coats irritated linings of the mouth and throat. Since this mucilage acts in the same way as natural mucus, it prevents cough rather than stimulating the release of mucus. Therefore, marshmallow root is appropriate for dry, hacking coughs rather than for relieving congestion. In addition, the herb is known to stimulate phagocytosis, the immune process in which cells called macrophages engulf and digest infectious microorganisms.

Stomach Ailments

Teas of marshmallow root contain complex polysaccharides that form a protective layer on the stomach lining. These polysaccharides swell to twelve to fifteen times their original volume when they meet the fluids of the stomach, completely coating its lining.

Dosage (Divided Daily)

Dried Powder: 6,000 – 15,000mg (Cold Maceration)

Buy Marshmallow Powder and Capsules at Herbosophy
Marshmallow Root

Contraindications

None known

Side effects

None known

Interactions with other drugs

The absorption of other medications taken simultaneously with marshmallow root may be retarded. Simultaneous ingestion of drug medications and marshmallow root should be avoided.



 Bibliography

  1. British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific Committee. (1983). British herbal pharmacopoeia (Consolidated ed.). West Yorkshire: British Herbal Medicine Association.
  2. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
  3. Herbalpedia (2013)
  4. Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub. 

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

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