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Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis L.)

treats Inflammatory skin conditions

Generic Name: Marshmallow

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Althaea leaf, Althaea officinalis L. var robusta, Althaea radix, althaea root, Althaeae folium, althaeae radi, althea, althea leaf, althea root, Althea Rose of Sharon, altheia, apothekerstockmalve (German), bismalva (Italian), buonvischio (Italian), cheeses, Eibischwurzel (German), Guimauve (French), gul hatem (Turkish), Herba Malvae, hitmi (Turkish), kitmi (Turkish), Mallards, Malvaceae (family), malvacioni (Italian), malvavisco (Spanish), malve, mortification root, mucilage, Racine De Guimauve, sweet weed, witte malve, wymote.

Note: Not to be confused with mallow leaf and mallow flower. Not to be confused with confectionery marshmallows; although confectionery marshmallows were once made from the Althaea officinalis plant, they now contain mostly sugar.

Background

Both marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) leaf and root are used in commercial preparations. Herbal formulations are made from either the dried root or leaf (unpeeled or peeled). The actual mucilaginous content of the commercial product may vary according to the time of collection.

There is a lack of available clinical trials assessing marshmallow alone for any specific health condition. Medicinal uses of marshmallow are supported mostly by traditional use and laboratory research. Limited human evidence is available studying the effects of marshmallow-containing combination products in skin conditions.

Although clinically unproven, marshmallow may interfere with the absorption of medications taken by mouth. Therefore, ingestion of marshmallow several hours before or after other agents may be warranted.

Marshmallow is generally regarded as safe. However, the potential for marshmallow to cause allergic reactions or low blood sugar has been noted anecdotally.

Althaea extract has been used to make pills. Marshmallow has also been used as an aid to X-ray exams of the esophagus.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Inflammatory skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis): Marshmallow extracts have traditionally been used on the skin to treat inflammation. Several laboratory experiments, mostly in the 1960s, reported marshmallow to have anti-inflammatory activity but limited human study is available. Safety, dosing, and effectiveness compared to other anti-inflammatory agents have not been examined.
Grade: C

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abscesses (topical), antidote to poisons, aphrodisiac, arthritis, bee stings, boils (topical), bronchitis, bruises (topical), burns (topical), cancer, chilblains, colitis, congestion, constipation, cough, Crohn's disease, cystitis, diarrhea, diuretic, diverticulitis, duodenal ulcer, emollient, enteritis, expectorant, gastroenteritis, gum health, immunostimulant, impotence, indigestion, inflammation (small intestine), insect bites, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney stones, laxative, minor wounds, mouthwash, mucilage, muscular pain, pap smear (abnormal), peptic ulcer disease, polyuria, skin ulcers (topical), soothing agent, sore throat, sprains, toothache, ulcerative colitis, urethritis, urinary tract infection, urinary tract irritation, varicose ulcers (topical), vomiting, whitening agent, whooping cough, wound healing.
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