You may have read or heard somewhere that marshmallows can cure or lessen a sore throat. This claim doesn’t go too far, as there’s scant scientific evidence that those sweet, fluffy confections do anything to calm throat discomfort.

There may be a simple reason for this confusion about marshmallows. Some may think marshmallows help because the marshmallow root is a recognized sore throat soother.

However, marshmallow root isn’t the same thing as a marshmallow. This article will discuss the benefits of the marshmallow root for sore throats as well as suggest other treatments that may soothe this bothersome symptom.

Don’t confuse modern-day marshmallow products with the marshmallow root, long used for medicinal purposes.

Marshmallows that you buy from store shelves for your hot chocolate or s’mores contain mainly sugar, water, and gelatin, which are whipped into a fluffy texture. None of these ingredients are proven to help sore throats.

On the other hand, marshmallow root is a plant that may actually help your sore throat. Marshmallow root is also known as Althea officinalis L. It grows in Europe and Asia as well as in other mild climates. It’s been used as a remedy since ancient times.

At one time, marshmallow root was an ingredient in marshmallows, but this is no longer the case.

You can find marshmallow root in a variety of forms, including teas, supplements, and lozenges. Many studies have examined the effects of marshmallow root on sore throats as well as on other conditions.

In the United States, using marshmallow root instead of a conventional approach to treat a health condition is known as an alternative therapy.

Using it along with conventional medicine, such as over-the-counter or prescription medications, is known as a complementary therapy.

Quick relief

Marshmallow root may provide relief from your sore throat. A 2019 study found that marshmallow root can offer quick relief for symptoms related to respiratory conditions. This is because marshmallow root can help build a protective coat in your mouth and throat that relieves irritation and swelling. Marshmallow root can also reduce dry cough symptoms.

In combination

Marshmallow root in combination with other natural extracts may soothe your sore throat.

One study reported that BNO 1030 extract helped soothe a sore throat caused by a viral infection in children age 6 to 18. The extract included many other plants including chamomile, horsetail, walnut leaves, and others.

In a tea

An older study looked at whether the herbal tea Throat Coat helped soothe sore throats. This brand of tea contains marshmallow root as well as licorice root, slippery elm bark, wild cherry bark, and other ingredients.

The study found that Throat Coat alleviated symptoms quickly, though just temporarily. Throat Coat was much better at relieving symptoms than a placebo tea, though.

In lozenges

Marshmallow root also appears in some throat lozenges for sore throat and dry cough symptoms. Using lozenges to reduce sore throat symptoms is considered safe, economical, and acceptable in the medical community.

Ricola lozenges, one recognizable and readily available brand, contains marshmallow root in addition to plants like peppermint, sage, thyme, and lady’s mantle, among other ingredients.

Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the use of marshmallow root or other complementary or alternative methods for health purposes, so make sure you’re careful when using it.

Only purchase marshmallow root from reputable vendors and manufacturers and be mindful of dosages. If you have preexisting health conditions, discuss marshmallow root with your doctor before using it to avoid harmful side effects.

You may be interested in other ways to treat a sore throat, beyond marshmallow root. Sore throats can interfere with daily activities like swallowing, eating, sleeping, and talking, so lessening the discomfort may provide relief and help you function.

The cause of the sore throat is important when deciding on treatment. The cause will determine whether to treat the sore throat itself or an underlying condition.

One 2012 study found that 50 to 95 percent of sore throats in adults and 70 percent of sore throats in children were from viral infections, such as the common cold. Other causes of sore throats include:

  • bacterial infections, such as strep throat
  • allergies
  • pollutants
  • dry air

Time is generally the only way to cure a viral infection. You can try treatments to calm symptoms while your body works against the infection.

On the other hand, you should treat bacterial infections more aggressively with antibiotics to make sure the infection leaves your body. You may still want to try some soothing techniques for bacterial infections while waiting for prescribed medications to work.


There are several medications you can use to treat a sore throat:

You’ll need to take antibiotics for bacterial infections. Make sure you take the entire course of antibiotics directed by your doctor, even when your symptoms go away.

Home remedies

You may find home treatments are effective in lessening your sore throat. Not all of these are scientifically proven, but you may find them helpful. These remedies include:

  • keeping your throat moist with cold or warm beverages
  • gargling with salt water
  • humidifying the air in your home or bedroom
  • sucking on a lozenge or hard candy
  • eating a popsicle, which may be a good treatment for children
  • drinking a hot toddy if you’re an adult, as this beverage contains whiskey
  • taking a spoonful of honey on its own or in a hot beverage
  • getting more rest with your head in an elevated position

A sore throat may be a sign of a serious health condition. If your symptoms have lasted a few days or longer and are getting worse, you should contact your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you:

  • are having difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • have a swollen neck or face
  • experience joint or ear pain
  • see white patches at the back of your throat when looking in a mirror
  • have a high fever or a fever that won’t break
  • have lost your voice for a week or two
  • cough blood or have blood in your saliva or mucus

Untreated bacterial infections may cause more serious health conditions, so it’s important to seek medical treatment if you suspect a condition like strep throat.

Store-bought marshmallows likely won’t do anything to relieve your sore throat, but products containing marshmallow root may help soothe your symptom. Marshmallow root is available in products like teas, supplements, and lozenges and may help coat your throat to reduce discomfort.

There are other treatments available to soothe a sore throat, including medication and home remedies.

Most of the time sore throats are caused by viral infections but contact your doctor if you suspect conditions like strep throat or if your symptoms become more severe or interfere with your breathing or swallowing.