Marshmallow

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What other names is Marshmallow known by?

Altea, Alteia, Althaea officinalis, Althaea taurinensis, Althaeae Folium, Althaeae Radi, Althea, Althée, Guimauve, Guimauve Officinale, Gulkhairo, Herba Malvae, Mallards, Malvavisco, Marsh Maillo, Mauve Blanche, Mortification Root, Racine de Guimauve, Sweet Weed, Wymote.

What is Marshmallow?

Marshmallow is a plant. The leaves and the root are used to make medicine. Don't confuse marshmallow with the mallow (Malva sylvestris) flower and leaf.

Marshmallow leaf and root are used for pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract. They are also used for dry cough, inflammation of the lining of the stomach, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation, urinary tract inflammation, and stones in the urinary tract.

People sometimes apply marshmallow leaf and root directly to the skin for pockets of infection (abscesses) and skin ulcers; and as a poultice for skin inflammation or burns, and for other wounds.

Marshmallow leaf is used topically as a poultice for insect bites.

Marshmallow root is applied to the skin as an ingredient in ointments for chapped skin as well as for pain and swelling of the feet and hands due to exposure to the cold (chilblains).

In foods, marshmallow leaf and root are used as a flavoring agent.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Cough caused by ACE inhibitors. Medications used for high blood pressure called ACE inhibitors can sometimes cause coughing as a side effect. Early research suggests that taking marshmallow root by mouth for 4 weeks can reduce cough caused by ACE inhibitors. Some examples of ACE-inhibitors include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril).
  • Skin infection caused by parasites (Leishmania lesions). Early research suggests that applying a combination of marshmallow and hollyhock extracts to affected skin for 5 days can help improve Leishmania lesions.
  • Sores.
  • Skin inflammation.
  • Burns.
  • Wounds.
  • Insect bites.
  • Chapped skin.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers.
  • Irritation of the mouth and throat.
  • Dry cough.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of marshmallow for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Marshmallow work?

Marshmallow forms a protective layer on the skin and lining of the digestive tract. It also contains chemicals that might decrease cough and help heal wounds.

Are there safety concerns?

Marshmallow is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. In some people, it might cause low blood sugar levels.

Marshmallow is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied directly to the skin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of marshmallow during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: There is a concern that marshmallow might interfere with blood sugar control. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar carefully to avoid dangerously low blood sugar.

Surgery: Marshmallow might affect blood sugar levels. There is a concern that it could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures. Stop taking marshmallow at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Lithium
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Marshmallow might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking marshmallow might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.



Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Marshmallow might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking marshmallow along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.



Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Marshmallow contains a type of soft fiber called mucilage. Mucilage can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. Taking marshmallow at the same time you take medications by mouth can decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction, take marshmallow at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.

Dosing considerations for Marshmallow.

The appropriate dose of marshmallow for use as treatment depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for marshmallow. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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