What Is Marshmallow Root Good For?

Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2021
what is marshmallow root good for
Marshmallow root has been used as an herbal remedy for a wide range of conditions, including cough, diarrhea, constipation, and inflammation

Marshmallow root or Althaea officinalis has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Dry cough
  • Inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Urinary tract inflammation 
  • Stones in the urinary tract

Marshmallow root contains fiber and swells up when it comes in contact with water, forming a protective coating around membranes. It is believed to promote the health of mucus membranes that line hollow organs and reduce pain and inflammation. Beneficial components include:

  • Flavonoids
  • Antioxidants
  • Pectin
  • Amino acids such as asparagine 
  • Coumarin
  • Phenolic acids
  • Tannins 
  • Quercetin (a potent antiviral and antibacterial substance)

5 health benefits of marshmallow root

  1. Relieves cough: Antitussive and mucilage properties in marshmallow root can help relieve cold symptoms and other respiratory ailments including throat irritation and swelling of the lymph nodes. Studies have shown that herbal cough syrups containing marshmallow root may relieve respiratory conditions associated with mucus formation. The mucilage coats the surface of the esophagus and provides a soothing effect. Marshmallow root taken with chamomile and common mallow may significantly reduce inflammation of the airways.
  2. Prevents tumor growth: Some herbal medicine experts claim that the antioxidants in marshmallow root play a role in preventing the growth of tumors, especially in the lungs, and minimize the risk of progression. High amounts of vitamin C also helps clear mucus and may have a role in cell repair and regeneration.
  3. Protects the gut: Marshmallow root can help relieve a number of digestive issues including heartburn, acid reflux, diarrhea, and even constipation. The mucilage coats the inner lining of the stomach and esophagus, protecting it and preventing burning sensations. Mucilage and flavonoids in the marshmallow plant may also help reduce the risk of certain ulcers including those associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  4. Eases skin problems: Marshmallow root reduces skin irritation and inflammation by soothing the nerve-sense system of the skin. It can be used topically to treat wounds, burns, insect bites, dry or chapped skin, and even peeling skin. Topical application of marshmallow root can help with eczema because polysaccharides in the root moisturize the skin and add a protective layer to ultrasensitive skin. It can also prevent premature aging of skin due to damage from UV radiation from sun exposure.
  5. Promotes thicker hair: The mucilage in marshmallow root has a strengthening effect on the hair, making the strands appear thicker by binding with hair proteins. It can also be used as a hair detangler and conditioner.

The FDA classifies marshmallow root as an herbal supplement and as such does not support its use as medicine. Although no serious side effects have been reported with consumption of marshmallow root, it is important to talk to your doctor before you start taking it.


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Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2021
Image Source: wabeno / Getty Images