Benefits Of Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) For Health

Benefits Of Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) For Health


Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis)


Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) is known as other names: Altea, Alteia, Althaea, Althaea officinalis, Althaea taurinensis, Althaeae Folium, Althaeae Radi, Althea, Althée, Guimauve, Guimauve Officinale, Gulkhairo, Herba Malvae, Mallards, Malvavisco, Marsh Maillo, Sweetweed, Mauve Blanche, Mortification Root, Racine de Gui...

Benefits Of Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) For Health
Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) Picture

Found growing in abundance in moist and wet places all over the world, marshmallow is a perennial aromatic herb that is sometimes found to grow up to four feet in height. While the herb can be found growing in plenty in the wild, it is also cultivated commercially for medicinal use. The root of the plant is white in color and tastes sweet similar to the parsnip (a long tapering cream-colored root cooked and consumed as a vegetable). However, unlike the parsnip, marshmallow roots contain plenty of mucilage (a gummy substance secreted by some plants containing protein and carbohydrates). The plant has numerous branchless stems that are wooly or covered with long, soft, white hairs. The marshmallow stems bear serrate (edged with indentations or with projections that resemble the teeth of a saw) and pubescent (covered with down or fine hair) leaves. The flowers of the herb are approximately two inches in width and they may be found in white, light red or royal purple colors.

The marshmallow plant was a native of specific regions of Europe and Asia but now can be found in areas of the United States as well and has been used for healing for over 2500 years. Marshmallow was originally used medicinally by the Egyptians. Its usage was later adopted by the French. Today, it has a wide variety of medicinal uses.

Benefits Of Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) For Health


Researches over the years have shown that marshmallow has numerous medicinal benefits, particularly in safeguarding and soothing the mucous membranes. The roots of the herb are effective in counteracting additional stomach acid, peptic ulcers as well as gastritis. In addition, marshmallow has moderate laxative (a substance used to promote bowel movements) properties and hence is helpful in healing several problems of the intestines, including colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis.

Marshmallow is also used to ease sore throats and dry coughs. The Marshmallow plant, especially the leaves and roots, contains polysaccharides that have antitussive, mucilaginous, and antibacterial properties. Because of this, marshmallow has a soothing effect on inflamed membranes in the mouth and throat when ingested orally, specifically a sore throat. The antitussive properties help reduce dry coughing and prevent further irritation.

Benefits Of Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) For Health
Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) Flower Picture

Ingesting warm infusion of marshmallow leaves is effectual in curing cystitis as well as frequent urination. The demulcent (soothing irritated or inflamed skin or mucous membranes) properties of marshmallow offers respite from dry coughs, bronchial asthma, bronchial congestion or jamming of the bronchioles and even pleurisy.

On the other hand, marshmallow roots form a crucial ingredient of an ointment or cream that effectually cures boils and abscesses. The roots are also used in mouthwash for treating inflammation. In addition, peeled fresh roots of marshmallow can be given as a chew stick to teething infants.

Marshmallow extract is sometimes added to creams and used to treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and contact dermatitis. Marshmallow may be a helpful aid to radiologic esophageal examination. There is tentaive evidence that marshmallow may also help with respiratory disorders such as asthma.

Marshmallow is also believed to have an ability to fight infection and boost the immune system. Recent research shows that marshmallow increases white blood cells and used for the treatment of colds, hoarseness, diarrhea and dysentary. It has also been used for reduction of high blood sugar levels in the body. According to studies in mice, marshmallow lowered blood sugar levels. More studies are needed to conclude that it does lower blood sugar levels in humans.

Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) Side Effects and Precautions


Marshmallow is considered a very safe herb and virtually no side effects have been reported with its use. Marshmallow may, however, cause low blood sugar in some people, so those with low blood sugar should check with a physician or herbalist before using marshmallow. Because of the way marshmallow coat the stomach, it may affect absorption of other drugs. Anyone taking medications should take marshmallow either six hours before or six hours after taking other medication. Finally, marshmallow contains a kind of tumor growth factor, asparagine. Those with cancer or a family history of cancer should consult a specialist before using marshmallow.