Althaea officinalis, Malvaceae. The root and the leaves are the parts of the plant used.

The leaves should be collected in the summer after flowering and the root unearthed in the autumn. The root should be cleaned of root fibres and dried immediately.

Functions of marshmallow

Whilst having broadly similar effects, the root is primarily used for digestive problems and on the skin, whilst the leaf is used for the lungs and the urinary system. Marshmallow:

  • root is used in all inflammations of the digestive tract, such as inflammation of:
    • the mouth,
    • gastric and peptic ulcers,
    • enteritis and
    • colitis.
  • leaves are used in:
    • respiratory catarrh,
    • irritating coughs, and
    • in urethritis.
  • leaves are very soothing on mucous membranes
  • root is used externally in varicose veins and ulcers as well as abscesses and boils.

Notes on marshmallow

  • In ulcerative conditions, internal or external, it combines well with comfrey.
  • For bronchitis use it with licorice or white horehound.
  • It is often mixed with slippery elm for ointments.
  • The marshmallow plant was the original source of the popular marshmallow candy.
  • A strong infusion may interfere with the absorption of some pharmaceutical medications. They need to be taken separately.


Decoction: Put a teaspoon of the chopped root into a cup of boiling water and boil it gently for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the dried leaf and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.


Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Shaw, N. 2002, Herbalism. Element

Tyler, Y. E. 1993, The Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Haworth.




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