(Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow is a bog plant that is native to Britain and Europe and is now naturalised in the United States. The roots and leaves are used medicinally.

Marshmallow (not to be confused with confectionery marshmallows) has long been in Europe for over 2000 years to treat coughs and sore throats. Due to its high mucilage content, this plant is soothing to inflamed mucous membranes. Marshmallow is also used by herbalists to soothe chapped skin, chilblains (sores caused by exposure to cold), and minor wounds.

What it does

The root contains a substance called mucilage which had soothing (demulcent) properties. It protects, lubricates and heals inflamed or irritated tissues and mucous membranes. it also contains flavanoids, tannins, phenolic acids, starch, pectin, sucros, fat and asparagine. It is thought that the mucilage in this herb may also have immune stimulating and blood sugar lowering properties.

Potential Uses

Asthma Chapped skin Chilblains (topically)
Colds and coughs Crohns disease Cystitis
Diarrhoea Eczema Gastro-enteritis
IBS Indigestion Mouth ulcers
Sore throat Ulcerative colitis

Other information

As well as being available as a capsule or tincture, marshmallow may be bought in root form to make herbal tea for internal use or a poultice for external use. The leaves and flowers can be used in salads and the root can be boiled and fried in butter as a vegetable.


The mucilage in marshmallow may delay the absorption of other medications, so it should always be taken on in its own.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using marshmallow.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with marshmallow.


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