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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Marshmallow


Dried root and leaves (peeled or unpeeled) of marshmallow are used in herbal preparations and leaf and roots of marshmallow are used in commercial preparations. According to the time of collection the actual mucilaginous content in a commercial product would vary. Marshmallow is not assessed alone for its safety and effectiveness and there are limited human evidences available for any specific health conditions. Marshmallow extracts are been used in making pills and marshmallow is also used as an aid in X–ray exams of the esophagus. It is important not to get confused between marshmallow leaves and flowers; as they both are different (leaves are used in commercial and herbal formulation).
Also it is easy to confused it with marshmallow confectionaries, although in the past marshmallow confectionaries were made from marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis), these days they mainly contain sugar.

Health and marshmallow

  1. Based on unclear scientific research, marshmallow is been used traditionally on the skin for eczema treatment and to treat inflammation. Marshmallow may also have anti-inflammatory activity according to several laboratory studies, however human studies in this field are lacking and its dose, safety and effectiveness are not been examined with other anti-inflammatory agents.
  2. Based on tradition and scientific theories marshmallow is also used for abscesses, aphrodisiac, antidote to poison, arthritis, boils, bee stings, bronchitis, burns, bruises, cancer, congestion, colitis, constipation, cystitis, cough, Crohn’s disease, dermatitis, diuretic, diarrhea, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, enteritis, gastroenteritis, gum problems, inflammation of small intestine, indigestion, immunostimulant, impotence, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, minor wounds, skin ulcers, kidney stones, laxative, mouth wash, muscular pain, abdominal pap smear, soothing agent, peptic ulcer, polyuria, sore throat, ulcerative colitis, toothache, urinary tract infection, vomiting and whooping cough. These indications are however not been tested in humans for its safety and effectiveness.

Side effects and marshmallow

In healthy individuals, traditionally marshmallow is regarded safe, however due to lack of human studies appropriate dose and duration of the supplement cannot be drawn.
  1. Marshmallow can lower blood sugar levels based on animal studies, thus people with diabetes or taking drugs or herbal supplements to lower blood glucose levels should use this supplement with a word of caution. Blood glucose levels should be monitored properly and medication adjustment may also be required.
  2. Marshmallow supplements are not recommended for children, pregnant and lactating women as there is no enough evidence regarding its safety and effectiveness.
  3. Marshmallow should be taken after one or two hours after other drug ingestion, as it may interfere with the absorption of other drugs and decrease its effectiveness. Marshmallow may also interfere with tropical steroids.
As marshmallow can interact with other drug or herbal supplements, it is advisable to take marshmallow supplements in recommended amounts under the guidance of a health care professional.
Submitted on September 4, 2008