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Plant Family:

Malvaceae - the mallow family


Habitat & Cultivation: 

Marshmallow is native throughout damp areas of Europe and western Asia.
It has naturalized in North America in salt marshes from Massachusetts to Virginia.  

Early Arab physicians prepared a poultice with the leaves to suppress inflammation.

The present-day Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia reports its actions as demulcent, diuretic, emollient, and vulnerary.


Parts Used/Collection: 

Leaves and dried root, also used as a component of a few prepared cough tea and cough syrup medicines.


Herbal Actions: 

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Demulcent

  • Emollient

  • Expectorant 


  • Indications for marshmallow include: irritation or inflammation to the oral and pharyngeal mucous membranes that often cause a dry or irritating cough.  Marshmallow coats the throat and pharynx when taking orally to help soothe coughing and irritation. Marshmallow also coats the gastrointestinal tract and calm mild inflammation that could ease heartburn/acid reflux, gastroenteritis, ulcers (to the liking of the stomach), ulcerative colitis, and enteritis.  Marshmallow can be used topically as well as a mouthwash/gargle or rinse to help with any inflammation or irritation in the mouth and pharynx. Used topically, marshmallow can be used as an ointment or cream to help soothe various skin conditions such as: eczema, furunculosis, and/or dermatitis (Bradley, 2002).  


  • Contraindications to Marshmallow include: possible delay in absorption of other drugs that are taken in combination with use of the marshmallow.  

Plant Constituents: 

  • mucilage polysaccharides


System Affinities:

  • Respiratory

  • Gastrointestinal

  • Integumentary

  • Genitourinary


  • cold, sweet, heavy, dense, slow, slimy

  • PK - K+

  • The action that Althea has on the lungs and kidneys rejuvenates Pitta.  Althea also tonifies Vata (Frawley & Lad, 1986, p. 128). It may increase Kapha. Because this herb is cold, it may increase the coldness in Kapha.  The sweetness adds bulk to the body, which Kapha already has. Sweet taste increases laziness, heaviness and excessive sleep, which can throw Kapha off balance (Frawley & Lad, 1986, p. 29)


 Marshmallow slows the body’s ability to absorb medications. Marshmallow is considered a safety class 1 herb. Those mucopolysaccharides are coating the GI tract!


  • Dried root peeled or unpeeled.

  • Topically as a mouthwash or gargle for inflammation of the mouth and pharynx (American Botanical Council, 2013).​

  • Poultice or ointment/cream for boils, eczema or gastric mucosa (American Botanical Council, 2013).

  • Cold maceration: 2-5g in 150 ml cold water for 30 min, stirring frequently, strain, warm and drink up to three times a day.

  • Dried root in a capsule 2-5g up to three times a day.

  • Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10-25ml, up to three times a day.

  • Syrup 10 ml to coat the throat.  This entire concoction is 50g of marshmallow in 1000cc of water.

  • Fluid extract 1:1(g/ml) up to three times daily (American Botanical Council, 2013).

  • A decoction with milk and ginger can support vata types.

Personal Experience:


I prepared this as a decoction, it was sweet and bitter but enjoyable. 


  • American Botanical Council. (2013). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. Retrieved from

  • AHPA. (2013). Botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). CRC Press, FL.

  • Bradley, P.R. (ed.). 1992. British Herbal Compendium, Vol. 1. Bournemouth: British Herbal Medicine Association.

  • Frawley, D., & Lad, V. (2001). The yoga of herbs. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press

  • Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.

  • Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  • Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.




Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)

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