Marshmallow: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Marshmallow Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Marshmallow is widespread throughout Europe and western Asia, naturalized in America and cultivated for drug production. The marshmallow root usually comes from cultures from the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia and Belgium.

Marshmallow: Use as a medicine

Mainly, the roots of the perennial (Althaeae radix), but also the leaves (Althaeae folium) and the flowers (Althaeae floss) are used for drug production. Aqueous extracts for oral use are made from the flowers.


Characteristics of marshmallow

The plant grows perennial in the form of a perennial. It grows up to 2 m high and is softly hairy. The leaves are three to five-lobed in shape with palmate veins and are velvety to the touch. The medium-sized flowers are white to pink, darkening toward the centre.

The marshmallow leaves are velvety hairy on the underside and upper sides. Mostly, fragments can be found where the typical hand-shaped leaf veins are recognizable.

Part of the drug is always parts of the petioles, isolated fragments of the infructescence and seeds. The root pieces must first be freed from the outer layers of bark by peeling. They are light and yellowish-white with dark stigmas on the outside.

With good magnification, for example, with a magnifying glass, the concentric layers of the bark are visible. After dabbing with ammonia solution, marshmallow roots show a precise yellow colouration; after dabbing with iodine solution, they turn blue.

Marshmallow: smell and taste

While the marshmallow leaves are odourless, the roots smell faintly mealy. The leaves taste slimy; the roots taste slimy and slightly sweet.

Marshmallow – application

Marshmallow leaves, and marshmallow roots are used to treat irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat and the associated dry cough. The root is also used to treat mild inflammation of the gastric mucosa. A combination with other substances is commonly used to clear mucus in the airways.

Folk medicinal use of marshmallow

In folk medicine, insect bites are treated by applying freshly crushed marshmallow leaves. Marshmallow root was described early on as “that cures a cough in five days”.

The drug is occasionally used in folk medicine to treat diarrhoea and urinary tract infections, although there is no objective justification.


Use in homeopathy

The homoeopathic application corresponds broadly to the already mentioned marshmallow applications.

ingredients of marshmallow

The marshmallow leaves consist of 6-10% mucilage, with the highest content found in the leaves harvested just before flowering. This is usually the case in late autumn. However, the root contains the highest proportion of mucilage (up to 20%) of all the parts of the marshmallow used.

The mucilage is a complex mixture of polysaccharides, including glucuronic acid, galactose, arabinose and glucans. Both parts of the plant also contain flavonoids.


Marshmallow: what indication?

Marshmallow can be used for these indications:

  • mucosal irritation
  • mucosal inflammation
  • cough
  • Inflammation of the gastric mucosa
  • mucus solution

Marshmallow – dosage

Marshmallow leaves are now only offered in the form of medicinal teas. Marshmallow root is a frequent component of tea blends such as chest or cold teas.

Dosage and administration of marshmallow

Today, only the marshmallow root is used for phytopharmaceuticals. It is contained in many preparations for coughs and colds, for example, syrup, juice, tablets, dragees, lozenges or powder. However, the syrup is only suitable for the treatment of irritation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract but not for the therapy of inflammatory processes in the gastric mucosa.

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is about 5 g marshmallow leaves or 6 g marshmallow root. With the syrup, the single dose is up to 10 g.


Marshmallow: Preparation of a tea

To prepare tea from marshmallow leaves, hot water is poured over a heaped teaspoon of the finely chopped drug (corresponds to 2 g; 1 teaspoon corresponds to about 1.4 g) and, after 10 minutes, is passed through a tea strainer. A cup of tea should be drunk several times a day.

For a tea made from marshmallow roots, 3-10 g of the finely chopped drug (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 3 g) should be mixed with cold water and left to steep at room temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture is then passed through a fine cloth or tea strainer.

Contraindications and warnings

So far, there are no contraindications for the drugs. Due to the sometimes high content of polysaccharides, people with diabetes should pay attention to the sugar content of the respective preparations.

The roots and leaves should be kept dry and protected from light.

Marshmallow – synonyms

German plant name: marshmallow

German synonyms of the plant: Marshmallow, Old Eh, Old Tea, Medicinal Root, Althee, Marshmallow, Riverweed, Velvet Poplar, White Poplar, Hollyhock

Latin plant name: Althaea officinalis L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Althaea micrantha, Althaea vulgaris Bubani, Borbás, Althaea sublimate Stokes, Althaea taurinensis DC

German drug name: Marshmallow leaves or marshmallow root

German synonyms of the drug: Althee leaves or white root, slime root, slime tea

Latin drug name: Althaea leaf bzw. The root of Althaea

Latin synonyms of the drug: Mallow Herb, Bismalva Herb Althaea Leaves, Bismalva Leaves, Hibiscus Leaves, Althaea Leaf

English name: Marshmallow leaf bzw. Marshmallow root (Droge); Althaea, Sweet Weed, Mallards, Hock Herb, Schloss Tea, Marsh Mallow, Marsh Mellow, White mallow, Mortification Root (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Malvaceae

Plant family German: mallow family


Marshmallow – effect

Marshmallow leaves and marshmallow roots have a soothing and antitussive effect, attributed to the relatively high mucilage content. The mucilage attaches to surface cells and thus forms a protective film over the mucous membrane. In cats, mechanically triggered coughs were significantly reduced by marshmallow leaf syrup and isolated polysaccharides.

Other effects of marshmallow leaf extracts are stimulating immune processes and releasing free radicals and pro-inflammatory substances (cytokines).

Marshmallow: side effects and interactions

No side effects of marshmallow leaves or roots are known to date. Taking marshmallow roots or leaves may delay the absorption of other medicines taken simultaneously.

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