What is Marshmallow (Althaea) Root Extract?
Marshmallow root is a natural herbal supplement derived from the Althaea officinalis plant. This supplement is available over-the-counter in a variety of forms including tinctures, extracts, cough syrups, creams or ointments and capsules.
Marshmallow root, or Althea officinalis, is an herb that has been used for more than 2,000 years, both as a food and as a medicinal remedy. Marshmallow was native to Europe but has since also been cultivated in the U.S. Medicinally, the roots and the leaves are both used because they contain a powerful mucus-like compound known as mucilage, which has the ability to swell and expand when mixed with water, allowing it to coat and sooth irritated surfaces such as the throat, stomach and inflamed skin. It also appears to have anti-congestive properties and can loosen a cough caused by a cold or flu. Marshmallow can be found in tinctures, extracts, infusions, capsules, ointments, creams and cough syrups.
The roots, flowers and leaves can all be used for marshmallow root tea. This particular herb has been put to use for centuries, thanks to its overall healing, calming and soothing properties. Plus, there are many health benefits of marshmallow root tea because it is filled with vitamins, which can boost your immune system, such as vitamins C and A, and pectin.
Chemical constituents of Marshmallow (Althaea ) Root Extract
The root contains starch (37%), mucilage (11%), pectin (11%), flavonoids, phenolic acids, sucrose, and asparagine.
Benefits of taking Marshmallow (Althaea ) Root Extract supplements:
The uses of marshmallow root in medicine vary widely. The remedy has been used to treat gastritis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, indigestion, diarrhea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Ulcers, cough, eczema, sore throat, abnormal pap smears, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, and the common cold have also been treated with the herb. Minor external problems like chapped skin and small cuts or wounds through the use of marshmallow root.
Bronchitis and whooping cough
Marshmallow root, also known as althea officinalis, gets its soothing properties from the presence of mucilate. A slick substance that does not dissolve in water, mucilate makes up nearly a third of the root’s composition, and causes the marshmallow to become slippery. This substance provides the same effects for the irritated skin, stomach, or other areas of the body that marshmallow is used on, making it a popular expectorant during cases of bronchitis and whooping cough.
Marshmallow extracts are used to treat skin inflammation, including eczema and psoriasis. Internal inflammation issues, including mouth ulcers, peptic ulcers and colitis, can be treated with marshmallow.
Marshmallow works as a mucilage, producing a thick sticky substance that coats membranes. Marshmallow extract contains flavanoids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties. The flavanoids are able to reduce inflammation while the mucilage holds them in place and prevents further damage. The extracts also induce phagocytosis, which is the process in which certain cells engulf bacteria, dead cell tissues or other solid particles. This helps speed up the healing process. The mucilage remains unaltered until it reaches the colon, which is why marshmallow works well on most inflammatory digestive disorders.
More recently, marshmallow has been used to treat certain digestive disorders, including heartburn, indigestion, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers and Chron’s disease. The mechanism by which it soothes sore throats applies to gastrointestinal mucosa as well and regular consumption of marshmallow can help with the pain of ulcerative colitis and Chron’s, and prevent stomach ulcers from perforation.
Due to marshmallow root’s anti-inflammatory properties, it has been used to treat bruises, sprains, aches, burns, abscesses, dermatitis and other skin irritations. According to Drugs.com, marshmallow not only soothes irritated skin but also improves and hastens wound healing. In a study published in the January 2010 issue of the «Journal of Ethnopharmacology,» clinicians found that marshmallow extract had a stimulating effect on cell proliferation of connective tissues and was extremely important to the tissue’s regeneration. This proved that marshmallow root is effective in healing skin irritations and can speed up wound healing.
Side effects and safety of Marshmallow (Althaea ) Root Extract
Marshmallow is considered a very safe herb and virtually no side effects have been reported with its use. Marshmallow may, however, cause low blood sugar in some people, so those with low blood sugar should check with a physician or herbalist before using marshmallow. The tinctures are made with alcohol and sugar so diabetics, alcoholics and those with liver diseases should take marshmallow in a different form. Marshmallow is not recommended for use in pregnant or lactating women, mainly because there are no studies on short term or long term safety and effects on the fetus or baby. Because of the way marshmallow coat the stomach, it may affect absorption of other drugs. Anyone taking medications should take marshmallow either six hours before or six hours after taking other medication.
Dosage of Marshmallow (Althaea ) Root Extract
The recommended dose of marshmallow root is 6 g daily for adults, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can prepare this supplement as a root tea by allowing 2 to 5 tsp. of dried powdered marshmallow root to soak in hot water for approximately 60 minutes before drinking. Consuming 1 to 2 tsp. of root infusion may also help soothe an irritated throat or reduce cough symptoms. Capsules, cough syrup and ointment or cream may also be used as directed to elicit the beneficial anti-inflammatory properties of this supplement. Consult your physician if you have any questions about the proper use of marshmallow root supplements.