8 Marshmallow Root Benefits: Teas, Tinctures, and More
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8 Marshmallow Root Benefits: Teas, Tinctures, and More

Jun 08, 2023

Michelle Pugle is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of experience contributing accurate and accessible health information to authority publications.

Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and integrative medicine doctor practicing in Santa Monica, California.

Marshmallow root is a mostly perennial herb found worldwide and native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Marshmallow root's latin name and botanical classification is Althaea officinalis L. (A. officinalis) from the Malvaceae family. It has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy. The most-studied benefits of marshmallow root have been in treating respiratory and digestive tract symptoms and in skin health and wound repair.

In this article, you will learn more about the benefits of marshmallow root, the products available, and its side effects and drug interactions.


The following are the benefits of marshmallow roots:

Marshmallow root is sweet, but the sweetness is very subtle. Unlike candy marshmallows, marshmallow root also has a slight earthy taste.

One in vitro and in vivo (animal) study from 2019 demonstrates that marshmallow root has protective properties for treating gastrointestinal (mouth, throat, and stomach) ulcers. Researchers determined that the benefits of marshmallow root for digestive issues are derived from its components, including vitamins and antioxidants, which prevent cell damage, and plant compounds like tannins, which promote a healthy mucosal lining within the digestive tract.

However, more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness in humans.

The antioxidant and protective properties of marshmallow root support healthy cell functioning, which promotes healthy skin and hair. For this reason, marshmallow root is sometimes used as an ingredient in natural shampoos and conditioners.

Marshmallow root can be used for wound healing. It can reduce skin irritation and inflammation associated with wounds or conditions like contact dermatitis or eczema.

One 2023 review on therapeutic herbs for wound healing found that marshmallow root has immune-system enhancing and antibacterial properties that can kill gram-positive bacteria (characterized by the color the bacterial turn when staining in the lab) and speed healing.

Marshmallow root affects hormones. One animal study from 2014 found marshmallow root extract impacted thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and may aid in metabolism (the body process that changes what you eat and drink into energy).

Marshmallow root is used in herbal remedies to relieve coughs and throat pain. Researchers say the effects of marshmallow root's medicinal extracts are immediate and offer a protective, antioxidant-rich film that coats inflamed mucosa (the inner lining of the nose, throat, and lungs), soothes irritation, and helps relieve coughs. This film protects the respiratory tract, promoting faster symptom relief and healing.

The antibacterial properties in marshmallow root also treat coughs from bacterial infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

The anti-inflammatory and diuretic (rids the body of water and sodium) properties in marshmallow root reduce water retention (edema).

Marshmallow root contains the following beneficial plant compounds:

These plant compounds treat sore and cracked nipples during breastfeeding. No data exist on whether marshmallow root can be excreted into breast milk or what the safety and efficacy of marshmallow root is in nursing mothers or infants.

Marshmallow root is available in several forms. You can purchase marshmallow root online, at natural food stores, and in products sold in grocery stores.

Marshmallow root can be found in the following:

Originally, marshmallows were made with marshmallow root. Now, though, marshmallows are made with gelatin instead of actual marshmallow root.

You can find commercial marshmallow root tea in single-serving tea sachets (a small, scented cloth filled with herbs). Follow the steeping directions, which usually are to pour boiling water over the tea bag and let steep for five to 10 minutes.

Directions can vary for every capsule, tincture, or extract. Also, some products contain just marshmallow root, while others are a blend of marshmallow root and other herbal ingredients.

Dosing is based on guidelines from the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP), an organization that reviews the therapeutic uses of herbal products based on scientific evidence and leading expertise. Marshmallow root has been dosed at 0.5–5 grams in 150 milliliters of water given three times daily. Root syrup, or liquid marshmallow root, is commonly dosed at 2–8 milliliters a day.

One study found 1% marshmallow root ointment was effective in treating skin irritation in children. The ointment was applied topically (to the skin) twice a day for a week and then three times per week for three weeks.

Marshmallow root is generally considered safe for use and is well tolerated in adults, with rare reports of allergic reactions. However, it can interact with certain drugs. For instance, it should not be used when taking lithium and diabetes drugs or when taking drugs that act as diuretics, such as blood pressure medication.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement to make sure it will not have a negative impact on your other medications.

The LactMed database of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides no data on the safety of marshmallow root during breastfeeding, but it is unlikely to be harmful to the breastfed infant.

Marshmallow root is a natural remedy that's been used for centuries to help relieve symptoms and treat conditions. Marshmallow root is particularly useful in relieving symptoms related to respiratory, digestive, and skin health. It is antibacterial and rich in antioxidants.

You can find marshmallow root online and in health food and grocery stores in teas, tinctures, capsules, and other extracts, as well as in creams, balms, and and salves for the skin. Dosing depends on method of use and includes teas and salves. Marshmallow root is considered safe with side effects being rare.

Zaghlool SS, Abo-Seif AA, Rabeh MA, Abdelmohsen UR, Messiha BAS. Gastro-protective and anti-oxidant potential of Althaea officinalis and Solanum nigrum on pyloric ligation/indomethacin-induced ulceration in rats. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(11):512. doi:10.3390/antiox8110512

Albahri G, Badran A, Hijazi A, Nasser M, Merah O. The therapeutic wound healing bioactivities of various medicinal plants. Life (Basel). 2023;13(2):317. doi:10.3390/life13020317

Roshangar F, Modaresi M, Toghyani M. Effect of marshmallow's root extract on thyroid hormones in broilers. Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology. 2014;7(1):161-164. doi:10.19026/rjaset.7.234

Fink C, Schmidt M, Kraft K. Marshmallow root extract for the treatment of irritative cough: Two surveys on users’ view on effectiveness and tolerability. Complement Med Res. 2018;25(5):299-305. doi:10.1159/000489560

Bonaterra GA, Bronischewski K, Hunold P, Schwarzbach H, Heinrich EU, Fink C, Aziz-Kalbhenn H, Müller J, Kinscherf R. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of Phytohustil® and root extract of Althaea officinalis L. on macrophages in vitro. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:290. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00290

Asnaashari S, Dastmalchi S, Javadzadeh Y. Gastroprotective effects of herbal medicines (roots). International Journal of Food Properties. 2017;902-920. doi:10.1080/10942912.2018.1473876

Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Marshmallow.

Silveira D, Prieto-Garcia JM, Boylan F, Estrada O, Fonseca-Bazzo YM, Jamal CM, Magalhães PO, Pereira EO, Tomczyk M, Heinrich M. COVID-19: Is there evidence for the use of herbal medicines as adjuvant symptomatic therapy? Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:581840. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.581840

Naseri V, Chavoshzadeh Z, Mizani A, Daneshfard B, Ghaffari F, Abbas-Mohammadi M, Gachkar L, Kamalinejad M, Jafari Hajati R, Bahaeddin Z, Faghihzadeh S, Naseri M. Effect of topical marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) on atopic dermatitis in children: A pilot double-blind active-controlled clinical trial of an in-silico-analyzed phytomedicine. Phytother Res. 2021;35(3):1389-1398. doi: 0.1002/ptr.6899

Mount Sinai Hospital. Marshmallow information.

By Michelle PugleMichelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.