Althaea officinalis

Herbs gallery - Marshmallow

Common names

  • Althaea
  • Marshmallow
  • Mortification Root
  • Sweetweed

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.

Ointment or cream prepared with marshmallow leaves and elder flowers is an excellent remedy to cure facial aching, skin rashes or eruptions, leg ulcers and repulsive-looking wounds more rapidly. To prepare the useful ointment, first gently mash about one gallon of fresh marshmallow leaves and mature flowers each. Next, spread out the mashed leaves and flowers uniformly in a big roast pan and add approximately two-and one-fourth cups of liquefied lard and one-and-a-half pounds of beeswax. Blend and beat the ingredients systematically with a wooden serving spoon, cover the pan and allow the ingredients to simmer or boil on an oven in 150°F. Continue simmering the ingredients until the herbs are reasonably crunchy and crush when touched. Then drain out the liquid mixture using a wire net strainer and keep on stirring the liquid with a wooden ladle till it is completely cold. Once the mixture has cooled, you may add half a cup of glycerin or 2/3 cup of pulverized slippery elm to preserve the ointment. Next, pour the ointment in clean jars or containers while it is still fairly warm and let it become firm to some extent. Seal the jars with air-tight lids and store the ointment in a cool and dry place till it is required for use.

Parts used

Root, leaves, flowers.


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, ileitis, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. 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. One may apply crushed fresh marshmallow flowers or a warm infusion prepared from the herb's flowers to comfort the inflammatory (irritating and swelled) skin. 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.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

Although the marshmallow is indigenous to Europe, over the years, the herb has acclimatized itself in the Americas where it is now commercially cultivated for medical use. Usually, marshmallow grows best in marshy lands. The above ground parts of the plants are collected in summer when they are just begin to blossom. On the other hand, the marshmallow roots are dug out or harvested during the autumn.


Marshmallow root contains about 37% starch, 11% mucilage, 11% pectin, flavonoidsphenolic acids, sucrose, and asparagine.

Usual dosage

Marshmallow can be ingested in various ways. One may consume tea prepared with marshmallow both hot or cold. In order to prepare tea with marshmallow, add the herb's roots and/ or leaves to cold or hot water and allow it to steep for some time. You may drink the tea three to five times every day. Extracts of the herb are also available in capsule and tablet forms. One may use these tablets or capsules that provide five to six grams of marshmallow daily. As an alternative, it may also be ingested as a tincture. Taking five to fifteen ml of marshmallow tincture thrice every day is effective to cure several disorders.

Side effects and cautions

Researches over the years have not found any side-effects of marshmallow application. The herb has been reported safe for use.

How it works in the body

The mucilage presents in the marshmallow is the primary component that not only safeguards the body tissues, but also soothes them during inflammation. While it is an established fact that marshmallow is extremely useful in soothing inflammations in conditions such as bronchitis, pleurisy, even dry cough and other respiratory problems, since ages the herb has also been used to protect and heal the digestive system. It is particularly useful in curing digestive system disorders such as ulcers and gastric inflammation which often lead to tetchy bowel syndrome and other symptoms. Marshmallow and its extracts are used in the urinary system to comfort the aggravated tissues in urinary tract infections like cystitis. Poultice prepared with marshmallow leaves and roots may be applied externally to heal skin problems like ulcers and boils. In fact, the herb has a double action - it soothes the irritation as well as heals the disorder.


SYRUP: Syrup prepared from the infusion of the marshmallow flower is beneficial in curing various types of coughs. It may be used as a cough expectorant.
INFUSION: An infusion prepared by boiling and then cooling the marshmallow leaves may be used to cure bronchial and urinary disorders.
DECOCTION: In order to cure inflammations like esophagitis and cystitis (an inflammation of the urinary bladder owing to infections). To prepare the decoction, add 25 g of marshmallow root to one liter of water and then boil it down to about 750 ml. In certain cases, the decoction may require some dilution by adding water.
TINCTURE: Tinctures prepared from the marshmallow roots may be used to cure swellings and irritations (inflammation) of the mucous membrane in the digestive and urinary systems.
POULTICE: To prepare a poultice of marshmallow, use the plant's root or a paste prepared from the powdered root blended with water. This poultice is effectual in curing skin irritations and swellings (inflammation) as well as ulcers.
OINTMENT: Ointments or creams prepared from marshmallow or its extracts are highly effectual in healing injuries, skin ulcers and even to even pull out unwarranted particles from the skin. To prepare an ointment with marshmallow, liquefy 50 g of lanolin, 50 g beeswax and 300 g of soft paraffin (a white colored waxy solid combination of hydrocarbons acquired from petroleum) collectively. Next, heat 100 g of powdered marshmallow root in these liquid fats for an hour over a water bath and after it cools, blend 100 g of powdered slippery elm bark by stirring.

Marshmallow face mask

The marshmallow face mask is also apt for sensitive skin and the ingredients required to prepare it include:

  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of a potent decoction prepared with marshmallow root
  • Superior quality oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 grams) of natural yoghurt

Blend the marshmallow infusion and the yoghurt and add the oatmeal. Stir the mixture thoroughly to prepare a paste. Apply this mixture uniformly and gently to your face.


From Ms. J.C. - Apr-12-2014
In the past, I had been consistently plagued by bladder infections as a teen. Cause, my Mom had medical insurance for me, I kept going to the hospital & they gave me every uncomfortable tests & dyes in my kidney, bladder, up where my urine comes out. They gave me antibiotics & all kinds of drugs - which did not help. My Mom is a nurse. Her friend, a MD gave me some sulfur drugs & that helped. I drank 12 cups water everyday, wore cotton underwear, drank cranberry juice, urinated after sex (my husband thought it was not romantic).
I prayed. I found out about the herb marshmallow. For me, I take 10 capsules of marshmallow - which are 480 mg each & I take 3-5,000 mg of vitamin C together & within the hour - I am healed of a bladder infection which use to be the most painful irritating uncomfortable feeling when you are urinating or not. It feels like it will explode, when your urine comes out & times, when I had blood coming out. If, I still feel it - I do the same 3-4 hrs later. And - that would be it. I am healed.
Whereas before - I had painful urination - that lasted days, weeks & months - while the Western Medication did not help me at all! I take my marshmallow bottle with me; whenever I go traveling. I also take along garlic capsules that are suppose to have sulfur. But, I am never without my marshmallow.
Now, I am taking it for my skin - cause, I read it heals rashes - which I got from a allergic reaction to toxic household chemicals. I noticed my skin is a lot smoother. I decided to take at least 2 capsules everyday for  maintenance.
From Donna - Feb-18-2014
Marshmallow tea (root and leaves) is a great help in dealing with interstitial cystitis. It was one of the mainstays in my routine to heal my bladder from this chronic condition. It can be debilitating and this is good to know. Not many are familiar with IC as a condition or this tea as part of the treatment. The drugs suggested for this condition are full of dangerous side effects. It only took me 3-4 months of a bland, organic diet and marshmallow tea to "heal". I still use it if I feel even a twinge of a symptom and it continues to serve me well.
From Craig - 2010
A local apothecary (compound chemist) prescribed for me a Marshmallow and Licorice tonic, 5ml three times a day with a little water. I have been on it for a week as a trial and it seems to have had some effect on my condition. I have a Inflamed Oesophagus caused by years of Gastro Reflux Disease and hypo-thyroidism. I spend most of a 24 hour day with central chest pain and discomfort like there's a balloon inflated in my chest, then when I burp it gives me temporarily relief. I belch 100-150 times a day, and have very smelly farts.
I am going to keep trying the natural remedy given by the chemist for about 3 months and hope to see by then the problem starting to abate for good.
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