Marshmallow photo

Althea officinalis

Common name: Marshmallow

Family: Malvaceae

Marshmallow is a soothing demulcent that affects all mucous membranes. It is specifically indicated in inflamed, irritated, raw, sore, damaged and infected tissue states.

Botanical Description

Marshmallow is native to most of Europe, where it can be found growing in salt marshes and damp meadows, river banks and coastal areas. The plant grows to heights of 1-1.5metres and has characteristically soft and ‘velvety’ leaves, covered in a thick layer of fine, soft hairs. The flowers are normally a light pink or white in colour. The marshmallow roots, which are often the portion of the plant used most extensively from a medicinal perspective, will produce large volumes of mucilage when they come into contact with liquid. It is this mucilage that is of vital importance when considering the medicinal value of the plant.

How it Works

Marshmallow contains 11% mucilage which acts as its primary medicinal constituent. Mucilage will trap liquid to form gel like substances and will also swell to many times its original volume. Mucilage forms a protective layer over damaged mucosal membranes, allowing time for cellular regeneration and healing to occur but also protects membranes from further deterioration, for example, damage from gastric acid exposure. Higher levels of mucilage also encourages a healthy inflammation response, by allowing time for damaged cells to heal. Externally, the mucilage present in marshmallow performs a drawing effect upon the body’s tissues and can be particularly effective for removing fluid and toxicity from wounds and infections. In small dosages, mucilaginous compounds restrain the peristaltic action within the gut and work well to promote an antidiarrheal action. In larger dosages, they can promote a laxative effect. 

Into the Heart of Marshmallow

The primary medicinal activity of marshmallow within the body is due to its high mucilage content. It is a key remedy for the provision of moisture and relieving symptoms and conditions of dryness. The qualities of marshmallow are characteristically moistening, soothing, cooling and calming. Marshmallow will increase internal moisture and reduce dryness, clearing internal heat and inflammation. Marshmallow has a particular affinity for the gastrointestinal tract but also proves effective for hot, dry and irritated conditions within the respiratory and urinary tract.


GIT: Indicated in all hot, inflamed, irritated and dry conditions of the digestive mucosa such as hyperacidity, gastritis, peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia. Marshmallow also acts as a bulk laxative in cases of chronic constipation and dry, pellet like stools.

Respiratory: Indicated in hot, inflamed, irritated and dry conditions of the respiratory mucosa such as unproductive coughs and tickly coughs. Marshmallow can help provide relief in conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis by allowing time for the inflamed and infected mucosa’s to heal.

Urinary: Indicated in hot, inflamed, irritated and dry conditions of the urinary mucosa such as cystitis, urethritis, urinary stones and nephritis. Marshmallow will also help to protect the kidneys from the tracking of urinary infections and the development of more chronic long-term conditions such as interstitial cystitis.

Skin: Indicated in hot, inflamed, irritated and dry conditions of the skin such as wounds, burns, scar tissue, ulcers, lumps and swellings. Marshmallow can be applied externally to the skin to provide symptomatic relief and as a drawing agent, but can also be taken internally to help aid the healing and repair process.

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