marshmallow large Marshmallow

Marshmallow| Althea officinalis

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include marshmallow, Moorish mallow, mortification root, Sghloss and cheeses (due to shape of seeds).

The name Althea comes from the Greek for heal all.

This tall growing (up to 2 metres) moisture loving perennial plant is a member of the Malvaceae family and is indigenous to Europe and some parts of Asia.  It prefers to grow in damp or moist ground and along river edges but seems most at home near the coast and in salt marshes. I have a nice expanding clump growing beneath a leaky rain water collector in heavy moist clay.

The leaves are beautifully soft and velvety with a whiter shade of green on the underneath of the leaves. The flowers appear from June to September on several upright stalks and are a very delicate pink colour with purple centres.

Organic Marshmallow root dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The root is the most commonly used part for medicine but the leaves and flowers can also be useful.
In early spring or in autumn, harvest the roots from plants at least 2 seasons old, taking the white fleshy part and leaving any woody stringy portions alone. If you don't want to dig up the whole plant, you can cut it in half with a spade in the ground, dig up half and leave the remaining half to grow on. Wash the roots, pat them dry, cut into small pieces and lay out on a tray lined with paper somewhere warm and dry if you intend to preserve for future use. They give out a lot of mucilage when cut so be sure to spread the pieces out and check daily for mould. rot etc,  discarding  any spoilt pieces as soon as you notice them.
The leaves are collected before the flowers appear. The flowers are collected when in full bloom and dried carefully in the shade.


Organic Marshmallow root dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Marshmallow root is a valuable herb to have in the herbal first aid cupboard as it has some potent tissue healing properties, with over 2000 years of medicinal use. It is a nutritious lubricating, soothing demulcent, anti-inflammatory, is rich in mucilage, softens hardness and encourages tissue repair and regeneration. It soothes and heals any tissue it comes into contact with and is cooling and ever so slightly salty by nature, taking down heat and inflammation wherever it encounters it. It forms a slimy coat over damaged membranes which protects the membrane from further damage and allows the marshmallow root to impart its benefits at the same time. The root is rich in polysaccharides, starches and pectin amongst many other useful constituents.


It is highly nutritious and can help to nourish joints and wasted tissues that are dry and lacking fluids and nutrients. Well worth a try in arthritis.


Externally for wounds, skin abrasions, burns and sunburn, itchy rashes, psoriasis, eczema and other dry and/or irritated skin complaints. When the root is used warm as a poultice it is very drawing and can help bring abscesses to a head when needed as well as draw out poison and pus from old infected wounds. Cysts and boils can also be eased. Can be placed as a poultice over skin ulcers to protect and heal, even gangrene . Use as a poultice or powder for sore or cracked nipples between breastfeeding sessions. the powdered dry root is excellent when made into a paste with a little oil or water to draw out splinters. It is an excellent addition to poultices aimed at drawing out pus and debris from a wound. I have had great success using marshmallow root, comfrey root and slippery elm in fistulas.


Can be added to herbal eyewash mixes for conjunctivitis and similar.


Often used for signs of blood in the stool, urine or from


For new mothers it can bring many benefits. The tea encourages an easy birth as it lubricates the entire birth canal and can help the placenta to be expelled safely. Also very healing and soothing for torn perineum when used as a poultice or in the bath. Apply root poultice to sore or hard breasts such as mastitis for its softening and clearing actions. Susun weed suggests soaking 2 0z (50g) of root in 4 pints of water overnight. Reheat the next day, pour into a bowl or basin and soak the breasts in the tea until it cools. This will help unclog ducts and glands and help draw out any infection. The root taken as a tea can help to enrich the breastmilk and encourage a good supply.


Internally for all irritated or damaged mucous membranes such as those lining the lungs, urinary tract, stomach and intestines etc. Even dry and stubborn cases of catarrh or sinusitis can benefit from marshmallow root as it lubricates and softens hard deposits and helps cleanse the tissues of gunk.


The root is a powerful tissue healer, it can ease stomach and intestinal ulcers and is capable of mending perforations in the bowel or intestines when taken as a strong decoction.  I have seen marshmallow root (mixed with slippery elm and comfrey root) repair life threatening perforations in the bowel of an infant when administered as an enema. Use for any rips, tears or fissures. It can literally be a life saver.

The root can be used as a tea to help lubricate the bowels in constipation or to alleviate burning watery diarrhoeal conditions such as dysentery. Inflammatory bowel conditions such as colitis and Crohns disease (symptomatic relief), The pain from passing gallstones will also be eased by the root, its slippery nature helps to pass them more easily. Heartburn and excess stomach acidity can also be soothed by the root as a drink as well as GERD, acid reflux, indigestion. gastritis, gastro enteritis, diverticulitis and appendicitis.


Marshmallow root is classified as a true Pectoral herb - that is it strengthens and increases the effectiveness of the lungs and respiratory passages. It soothes irritating and dry coughs, even cough caused by ace inhibitors and whooping cough. Marshmallow root is an important ingredient in my multi-purpose herbal cough syrup formula. Sore throats, bronchitis, pleurisy, emphysema, tonsillitis, dry sinus congestion, swollen glands and lymph nodes, tension in the lungs and respiratory passages, laryngitis, pharyngitis, oesophagitis.


Sticks of dried root can be given (under supervision) to babies to chew on to ease the pain and discomfort of teething.


It can also be helpful against mouth ulcers, gargled to help gingivitis and inflamed gums or sore mouth from many causes. It is antimicrobial against many bacteria in the mouth so can be used as a mouthwash and gargle for all kinds of disease issues within the mouth.


Cystitis and urinary tract infections, irritated kidneys, bladder or urinary tract. Soothes the membranes from the painful passage of kidney and bladder stones, burning on urination and general bladder weakness.


Marshmallow root has a beneficial action in hayfever some allergies. It moistens dry nasopharyngeal surfaces and relieves irritation there.


Marshmallow root also has antibiotic like effects against gram-positive bacteria such as streptococcus, staphylocococcus, gardnarella, listeria, clostridium and certain strains of bacteria that cause food poisoning.


It also has some anti-fungal actions and can be used in the treatment of candida or yeast overgrowth.





dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

Marshmallow is considered a very safe and nurturing herb, safe to use during pregnancy (from time to time) and breastfeeding.

* some caution is advised if taking medication that lowers blood sugar.

* the absorption of other medicines may be delayed or reduced due to the mucilage present.



Tincture: 2-5 ml up to 3 times daily.

Dried herb in tea form: for cold infusion of root, use 1 teaspoon of dried root per cup of cold water and stand overnight. up to 3 cups daily. Standard tea decoction, use up to 1 teaspoon of dried root per cup needed and simmer for 10 minutes or so in water, up to 3 cups daily.




Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.





Child watering plants




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