What exactly is marshmallow root?
Marshmallow is the name for more than just a type of white candy — it’s also a plant native to Africa and parts of Europe that’s used to make an herbal treatment that’s been utilized for centuries.
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) has a very long history in folk medicine that goes back to ancient Greek and Egyptian times. Over 2,800 years ago, references to marshmallow root were made in Homer’s “Iliad,” since at the time this “slippery” herb was a popular way to treat coughs, sore throats and congestion.
One of the reasons marshmallow candies got their name is because of the “fluffy” qualities of marshmallow root. Fibrous extracts from marshmallow swell up in the body and form a soft, gel-like substance. Today, marshmallow is still used by holistic practitioners in many of the same ways it was thousands of years ago, since within the plant lay powerful active ingredients that help break up mucus, reduce inflammation and kill bacteria naturally.
It’s become an important herb in the Ayurvedic medicine and Unani healing practices, which utilize many different plants to boost immunity and prevent disease.
Around the world, marshmallow root is used to treat illnesses and disorders, including:
- dry coughs and colds
- dry mouth and low saliva production
- bacterial infections including bladder infections, urinary tract infections and respiratory infections
- bronchitis and tonsillitis
- joint pain caused by swelling/inflammation
- inflammation of the lining of the stomach
- digestive issues including diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation
- inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders
- burns, wounds, insect bites or poultices on the skin
- eczema and dermatitis of the skin
- water retention, bloating and PMS