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Marshmallow

Also indexed as:Althea officinalis
Marshmallow: Main Image© Steven Foster
Botanical names:
Althea officinalis

How It Works

Mucilage, made up of large carbohydrate (sugar) molecules, is thought to be the active constituent in marshmallow. This smooth, slippery substance is believed to soothe and protect irritated mucous membranes. Marshmallow has primarily been used as a traditional herbal soothing agent for conditions of the respiratory and digestive tracts.16

How to Use It

The German Commission E monograph suggests 1 1/4 teaspoon (6 grams) of the root per day.17 Marshmallow can be made into a hot or cold water tea. Often 2–3 teaspoons (10–15 grams) of the root and/or leaves are used per cup (250 ml) of water. Generally, a full day’s amount is steeped overnight when making a cold water tea, 6–9 teaspoons (30–45 grams) per three cups (750 ml) of water, or for fifteen to twenty minutes in hot water. Drink three to five cups (750–1250 ml) a day. Since the plant is so gooey, it does not combine well with other plants. Nevertheless, it can be found in some herbal cough syrups. Herbal extracts in capsules and tablets providing 5–6 grams of marshmallow per day can also be used, or it may be taken as a tincture—1–3 teaspoons (5–15 ml) three times daily.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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