Part Used: Fresh tender (non-woody) root
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an erect perennial herb, reaching a height of up to 150cm, with stalked, three- to five-lobed pale green velvety leaves densely clothed with stellate grey hairs. It has medicinal properties like mucilaginous and demulcent; expectorant; mild astringent; soothing to gastrointestinal, bronchi and urinary tracts, etc. It enhances immune system response. Marshmallow root is used primarily for digestive problems and topically on the skin, whilst the leaf is used particularly to treat the lungs and the urinary system, although both root and leaf have similar properties.
The root of Marshmallow is indicated in all inflammations of the digestive tract including mouth ulcers, hiatus hernia, gastritis, peptic ulcer, enteritis and colitis. It contains large amounts of mucilage, making it an excellent demulcent which coats the gastrointestinal mucosa, particularly in the mouth and pharynx, thus protecting them from local irritation and it counters excess stomach acid. It is also mildly laxative. Externally, the root is indicated in varicose veins and ulcers as well as in abscesses and boils, and it is used in cosmetics for weather-damaged skin. The peeled root may be given to teething babies to chew on. Marshmallow has also shown potential anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects.
The leaves and root of Marshmallow both contain mucilagin, the substance that makes the tea "slimy", considered the main active ingredient. The leaves contain up to 16 percent mucilagin, while the roots contain 25-30 percent. Marshmallow preparations are recognized for their ability to soothe and soften irritated tissue, particularly mucous membranes, and to loosen a cough. It also mildly stimulates the immune system. The German health authorities allow use of the leaf and root preparations to relieve local irritation and soothe irritated mucous membranes in sore throat accompanied by dry cough. Preparations of the root are also used to relieve local irritations, stimulate the immune system, slow down lung congestion in sore throat with dry cough, and relieve mild inflammation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract.
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/marshmallow.htm
All Natural. http://www.allnatural.net/herbpages/marshmallow.shtml