marshmallow root tea

7 Benefits of Marshmallow Root and How to Choose the Right Supplement

Marshmallows aren’t known for their health benefits. But they get their name from the nutritious sticky extract from the roots of the marshmallow plant. (Although marshmallows used to contain marshmallow root, hence the name, most commercially produced ones don’t anymore.)

For centuries, marshmallow root has been thought to have healing properties. The botanical name of marshmallow root is althea officinalis. This perennial plant has pink flowers, which generally bloom in the fall months. The herb may help with a wide variety of ailments including aiding digestion, soothing a sore throat and even treating skin conditions, like eczema. 

What Is Marshmallow Root?

Marshmallow plants are native to countries in Western Europe, Asia and parts of Africa in “marshy,” swampy areas. The herb contains a soothing secretion, known as mucilage, which is thought to give the plant its healing properties. 

Marshmallow, also known as ‘althaea officinalis,’ is a demulcent. It’s an agent that forms a soothing and protective film over a mucus membrane. So, it’s useful in conditions that irritate the mucus membranes such as pharyngitis, tonsillitis, dry cough, and also reflux, gastritis and ulcers,” says Jerrica Sweetnich, Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Nutrition Specialist at Revilatize Medical Group. 

Ancient cultures used the root in a variety of ways. Arabic cultures boiled and fried it. In Indian culture, the Ayurvedic tradition used the herb for healing. And Romans considered it to be a delicacy. 

7 Benefits of Marshmallow Root

Today, the marshmallow herb holds a special place in the wellness industry because of its range of medicinal uses. The plant’s sap is incredibly moisturizing, so it may be used to heal skin conditions, scratchy throats and even increase breastmilk supply in nursing mothers. 

Here are seven  ways the marshmallow herb may improve your health.

Using the herb may:

Calm Sensitive Skin

Aloe vera is the plant that has the sunburn market cornered, but marshmallow root extract can take the sting out of a bad sunburn too. A study found that an ointment that contains 20% marshmallow root extract may reduce skin irritation (1).

Talk to your dermatologist about using it as a natural reliever for sunburn, eczema or psoriasis. And before using any topical cream, it’s important to do a skin patch test: 

  1. Clean a section of skin near the crook of your elbow. 
  2. Spread a small amount of the ointment on it and wait 24 hours. 
  3. If there’s no reaction, the cream should be safe to use elsewhere on your body.

Heal a Sore Throat or Dry Cough

Check the package of your go-to natural cough drops and you’ll probably see marshmallow root listed as one of the ingredients. That same sticky sap that makes the herb such a good skin reliever may help heal scratchy throats or a hacking cough (2, 3).

Aid the Healing Process

The soothing mucilage from marshmallow root may even help heal damaged or infected skin. One study suggests that putting topical marshmallow root ointment on a cut or scrape may help it heal faster (4). Consider using this natural option instead of synthetic antibiotic creams.

Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

A research study on rats suggested that ingesting extracts from the marshmallow flower could help reduce inflammation and increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind). These effects could help prevent heart attack and stroke (5). 

Increase Breast Milk Supply

For generations, marshmallow root has been considered to be a galactagogue (an ingredient that is thought to increase milk supply) (6). You’ll find the herb in many supplements that support breastfeeding, including Mother’s Milk Tea. A cream containing marshmallow root may also soothe dry, cracked nipples and relieve breast pain from breastfeeding. Although the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) classifies marshmallow as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), there is no specific data on the safety of it during breastfeeding. The FDA says it is unlikely to be harmful to breastfed infants. 

Prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

The liquid from the marshmallow root may act as a diuretic, helping to flush toxins out of the body (7). Research suggests it may also calm irritation within the urinary tract (8).

Improve Digestion

Research suggests that marshmallow root can prevent ulcers from forming (9). The herb may also repair the membranes that line the intestines and may even stimulate tissue regeneration (10).

How to Use Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow supplements come in many different forms. And the way you should take it depends on why you’re using it. Although marshmallow root is natural and considered safe for most people, always check with your healthcare provider before incorporating a supplement into your diet. 

In general, here’s how to use marshmallow root to meet your needs:

Chest Cold, Sore Throat or Cough

Stir a teaspoon of powdered marshmallow or marshmallow root tincture into liquid multiple times throughout the day. You can also buy marshmallow tea. The hot liquid and marshmallow root can soothe throat pain. Sip as often as needed.

Sweetnich says you can also combine marshmallow powder with other herbal anti-inflammatory and antitussive (cough) agents, like ginger and wild cherry bark, to make lozenges.

Healthy Digestion and Heart Health

Aim to take 6 grams of marshmallow root per day. You can take the herb in pill, powder or tincture form. 

Skin Health

Use marshmallow root ointment or combine marshmallow root powder with coconut oil and apply directly to dry, sunburned or chapped skin.

Marshmallow Root Side Effects

Marshmallow root is safe for long term use, and most people do not experience side effects. However, Sweetnich recommends that people try to find the root cause of their ailments, instead of relying on a supplement. 

It’s important to note that most of the research on the use of the marshmallow plant are animal studies. But the ingredient has been used safely on humans and has been considered to have healing properties for centuries. 

Don’t take marshmallow root in conjunction with medication because it can reduce the drugs’ absorption. And people who have diabetes and take insulin shouldn’t use marshmallow root because it could cause their blood sugar to get too low (11)

People who have productive coughs should avoid marshmallow root because it can increase mucus or make it harder to expel. And people with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) should also avoid it because it can worsen their condition,” says Sweetnich.

How to Choose a Marshmallow Root Supplement

You can find marshmallow root supplements at most vitamin or health food stores or online, including right here at LuckyVitamin.

Make sure you purchase the herb from a reputable brand and verify what’s inside the bottle. The tincture form of the supplement may include vegetable glycerin to help combine the marshmallow root to the water. Otherwise, marshmallow root should be the main ingredient. Opt for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified and NSF certified (which means the products meet public health and safety standards) whenever possible.

Best Marshmallow Root Supplements

Here are a few of the top-rated marshmallow root supplements on LuckyVitamin, and what our customers have to say about them:

Nature’s Way Marshmallow Root Vegan Capsules

“I have used this product for 9 years for my bladder. With out it I would be on several different meds for the bladder issue. I don’t know what I would do without it. When I run out of it and don’t use it for more than 2 days in a row; I am in trouble. I don’t even have to “up” the dosage. I take 2 tablets every night before bed.” –Florence, Greenwood, SC 

Celebration Herbals Marshmallow Leaf and Root Tea

“I recently ordered this tea for my digestion issues also for acid reflux. It really works great based on 3 times a day. I recommend this to everyone.” –Ylber, Rochville Center, NY

Nature’s Answer Marshmallow Root Tincture

“Having tried other brands, this is hands-down my favorite! I especially love the fact that it is alcohol free since I use it primarily for my pets. I have used it myself and found in very soothing to my intestines!” –Margaret, San Hose, CA

Have you tried marshmallow root? Please leave us a comment with your thoughts on this useful herb. 

Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

Jessica Wozinsky
By Jessica Wozinsky
Jessica Wozinsky writes about health, fitness, food, and beauty for a variety of outlets. An Ironman athlete and three-time marathoner, her main form of exercise these days is chasing around her two young sons. In over ten years of writing and editing, Jessica has written for The New York Times, Runner's World, Rachael Ray Every Day, Parade, The New York Post and The New York Daily News, among others. She also penned a weekly fitness column for Weight Watchers Meeting members that was translated into multiple languages. Jessica has had a few brushes with fame: She was a contestant on the game show "Cash Cab." She was also a guest on the ABC 7 morning news discussing the best hot dogs for a Memorial Day barbecue (even though she's a vegetarian).


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