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.
althea, cheeses, mortification root, sweet weed, wymote; Slaz lekarski (Polish); Echter Eibisch (German)
The 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.
Demulcent, diuretic, vulnerary, emollient.
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
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.
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)
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.
- British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific Committee. (1983). British herbal pharmacopoeia (Consolidated ed.). West Yorkshire: British Herbal Medicine Association.
- Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- 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.
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