Marsh Mallow

Althaea officinalis

Marsh Mallow is a perennial herb originally from Africa. The plant is now commonly found in a wide variety of urban environments.

Marsh Mallow can reach more than 1 metre in height during the vegetative period. The short-stalked leaves are broad with three or five lobes and toothed along the leaf margin. Marsh Mallow has white flowers, with pale purple lines along the petals, similar to the common Mallow.

The stem, and in particular the root systems, emit mucilaginous substance when they are cut. The plant is historically known for its medicinal properties and used to treat the irritation of mucous membranes.

Traditional uses
  • It is often used to treat bronchitis1 and sore throat2
  • Decoction of the Marsh Mallow roots is traditionally used for pharyngitis3
  • The leaves are used for urinary tract infections4
Properties
  • The root of Marsh Mallow contains soluble fibre that in water creates mucilage (gel) with emollient properties. This helps to soothe the throat and reduces the body’s urge to cough2 and it is highly effective in soothing and calming irritations to the skin due to its moisturising qualities2
  • Antitussive properties (in vivo evidence)4,8
  • Anti-inflammatory properties (in vivo evidence)5
  • Anti-microbial properties9 (in vitro evidence)
How it can be used
  • Root and leaves can be used, with the root being the most active part
  • A macerate of the dry root can be drunk to soothe sore throat and dry cough6
  • Blend the root in water and apply on irritated skin2
Precautions
  • Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Anecdotal reports of allergic reactions and low blood pressure.
The information provided here is only intended to augment people's awareness and knowledge of the properties and uses of some plants. This information is not intended to substitute advice from a physician and is not a substitute for professional medical care. The authors do not recommend collecting and using wild plants from an urban environment as these can be contaminated by several types of pollutants that are harmful to human health.

Although references are provided and information has been compiled with care, errors may be present. The remedies listed here should not be used without prior consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.
References
  • In vitro evidence: evidence from studies using isolated components of living organisms such as cells or purified molecules
  • In vivo evidence: evidence from studies with whole living organisms
  • Clinical trial evidence: evidence from clinical trials conducted with humans
  1. Weiss, R. F. & Meuss, A. R. Weiss’s herbal medicine. (Thieme, 2001).
  2. Duke, J. A. The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs. (Rodale, 1997).
  3. Ivancheva S., Stantcheva B. 2000 Ethnobotanical inventory of medicinal plants in Bulgaria Journal of Ethnopharmacology 69:165–17
  4.  Nosál’ova, G. et al. [Antitussive action of extracts and polysaccharides of marsh mallow (Althea officinalis L., var. robusta)]. Pharm. 47, 224–226 (1992).
  5. Beaune, A. & Balea, T. [Anti-inflammatory experimental properties of marshmallow: its potentiating action on the local effects of corticoids]. Therapie 21, 341–347 (1966).
  6. Escop. Escop Monographs: The Scientific Foundation for Herbal Medicinal Products. (Thieme, 2003).
  7. Snězana J., Popović Z., Mačukanovič-Joć M., Djurdjević L., Mijatović M. Karadžić B. Mitrović M. Pavlović P. 2007 An ethnobotanical study on the usage of wild medicinal herbs from Kopaonik Mountain (Central Serbia) Journal of Ethnopharmacology 111:160–175.
  8. Nosálová G., Strapková A., Kardošová A. et al (1993) Antitussive activity of a rhamnogalacturonan isolated from the roots of Althaea officinalis L., var. Robusta. Carbohydr. Chem.; 12:589-596
  9.  Iauk L., Lo BueA.M., Milazzo I., etal (2003) Antibacterial Activity of Medicinal Plant Extracts Against Periodontopathic Bacteria. Phytother. Res.; 17: 599-604
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