Marshmallow root, or Althaea officinalis, is a flowering plant that has long been used in herbal medicine.
Many people use marshmallow root to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, skin irritation, and digestive issues like ulcers. It is available as a powder, capsule, tea, and cough syrup.
The effects of marshmallow root on humans have not yet been thoroughly investigated by researchers. Because the majority of the research to date has involved animal studies or very small-scale human studies, more research is needed to confirm how effective the root is in humans.
This article examines the evidence for marshmallow root’s potential benefits. We also discuss how to use it and the possible side effects.
What exactly is marshmallow root?
For centuries, people have used marshmallow root in herbal medicine.
Marshmallow root is a brown, fibrous husk that grows on the marshmallow plant. The marshmallow plant’s flowers, root, and leaves are all edible.
The medicinal properties of marshmallow root are derived from the plant’s mucilage, or sap-like substance.
The plant’s mucilage contains antioxidants, and research indicates that it forms a coating over the skin and digestive tract. This may help with skin irritation and digestive problems such as ulcers.
Marshmallow candy got its name from marshmallow root because it was originally made with the root’s mucilage. However, the herb is no longer commonly found in candy marshmallows. They are made of sugar and gelatin instead.
The sections that follow go over six of the reported benefits of marshmallow root.
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1. Cough alleviation
Marshmallow root is found in some natural and herbal cough syrups and cough drops. By coating the oesophagus, mucilage may have a soothing effect.
Several small studies have found that herbal cough remedies containing marshmallow root can have this effect. According to one study, marshmallow root lozenges or syrup can help treat a dry cough.
Another study discovered that children who received a herbal mixture containing marshmallow and other herbs such as chamomile and common mallow had a less severe cough and fewer nighttime awakenings than those who received a placebo. However, because this study did not examine the effects of marshmallow root alone, other herbs in the mixture could have been responsible for the medicinal effects.
A third small-scale study found that children who received a herbal mixture containing marshmallow root and other medicinal plants had fewer and shorter-lasting respiratory infections.
Before administering herbal remedies to a child, parents and caregivers should consult with a doctor.
2. Reducing dry mouth
Chronic dry mouth, also known as xerostomia in the medical community, can lead to an increase in cavities, gum disease, and dental infections. Dry mouth is usually caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth.
Among the many causes are antihistamines, blood pressure medications, neurological issues, and autoimmune diseases.
One study’s authors concluded that marshmallow root may benefit people who have hyposalivation, or low saliva levels. The herbal remedy alleviated dry mouth symptoms, but it was no more effective than the other two treatments in the study, which were both over-the-counter dry mouth remedies.
Marshmallow root lozenges can be used to treat dry mouth. It is critical to avoid chewing the lozenge and to allow it to dissolve slowly in the mouth.
People can also make a herbal tea with marshmallow root tea bags or the dried herb in a tea strainer and drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
3. Prevention of ulcers
The marshmallow plant has been shown to reduce the risk of gastric ulcers.
According to a 2015 study, marshmallow flower extract may help protect the gut from gastric ulcers.
The extract was tested on rats using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to induce ulcers in the rodents. Rats given marshmallow root extract were less likely to develop stomach ulcers than rats not given the extract.
Based on these findings, the authors propose that the mucilage and flavonoids in the marshmallow plant may cover and protect the stomach mucous lining, lowering the risk of certain ulcers, including NSAID-associated ulcers.
4. Skin irritation relief
Marshmallow root may be beneficial for skin irritation and inflammation. According to a review study, its topical application can help with eczema and UV radiationTrusted Source, or sun exposure.
Although marshmallow root may be beneficial to sun-damaged skin, it should not be used in place of proper sun protection. UV radiation from the sun is a major cause of skin cancer and can also cause premature skin ageing.
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5. Wound healing
Marshmallow plant extracts’ soothing effect may also aid in wound healing.
When compared to controls, a study on rats found that applying marshmallow extract topically helped wounds healTrusted Source. The same study discovered that the extract was effective at killing specific types of bacteria, which could aid in infection prevention.
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6. Defending the throat against gastric reflux
When gastric reflux occurs, acid from the stomach flows back up into the throat, causing esophageal damage. The demulcent effect, in which mucilage coats the oesophagus, can protect it from the stomach’s harmful acids.
Because the herb requires direct contact with the membranes to coat the throat, the powdered root form of the plant may be more effective than a tea or tincture.
When used correctly, marshmallow root is unlikely to cause side effects. The majority of studies have found that people have a very low risk of adverse reactions.
People may be allergic to marshmallow root in rare cases. They can test for skin allergies by applying a small amount of marshmallow root to the skin inside the elbow. If there is no reaction within 24 hours, it is safe to use elsewhere on the skin.
How to Apply
People can benefit from the demulcent properties of marshmallow root in a variety of ways. It is critical to ensure that any marshmallow products you buy contain the plant’s root.
Making Marshmallow Root Tea
Tea can be made from dried marshmallow root.
It’s simple to use dried marshmallow root for loose-leaf tea. Pour boiling water over the dried root, cover it, and steep it for 5 to 10 minutes. It is now ready to strain and drink.
You could also use ready-made marshmallow root tea bags. Simply cover a tea bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for up to 10 minutes.
If you prefer a sweeter tea, you can add honey, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Making use of marshmallow powder
Marshmallow powder is typically made up of a combination of plant parts, but the label may specify how much root is present.
People can make a drink by combining marshmallow powder with water or juice.
Alternatively, they can combine marshmallow root powder and water in a jar or container with a lid and steep it at room temperature overnight. As it sits, the mucilage transforms into a thick, slippery liquid that soothes the throat and mouth. The liquid can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in an airtight container.
Making Marshmallow Skin Salve
Combine cooled marshmallow tea or liquid marshmallow extract with coconut oil to make a skin salve. This salve can be applied directly to the skin.
Summary: Marshmallow root is a good natural option for treating minor ailments due to its low risk of side effects and long history of medicinal use. As with any herbal remedy, consult a doctor before using it, and never substitute herbs for a doctor’s recommended treatment.
People can purchase various forms of marshmallow root in health food stores or online from the following brands:
Purchase marshmallow root cough syrup
Purchase marshmallow root capsules
Purchase dried marshmallow root