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Mashmallow

Marshmallow | Yao Shu Kui
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Marshmallow (Yao Shu Kui)

BOTANICAL NAME

Althaea officinalis

USES

The entire marshmallow plant contains antitussive, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, and may be useful in treating respiratory infections like bronchitis, pertussis, and even non-infectious bronchial asthma. Moreover, drinking marshmallow tea has shown some promise for relieving almost any kind of cough (including spontaneous and dry coughs as well as infectious, inflammatory, and wet coughs). This is likely because most marshmallow extracts also have demulcifent and soothing properties as well. In animal studies, marshmallow supplements have been shown to actively inhibit the cough reflex, though that effect is apparent for a significantly shorter period of time when the cough is related to inflammation in the airways.

One of the most commonly reported topical uses of marshmallow root extract is the treatment of gingival abscesses. Marshmallow root extract can make a somewhat effective oral rinse, though alcohol-based mouthwash and antibiotics tend to be more effective in the treatment of oral infections. That said, extracts drawn from different parts of the plant (especially alcohol/water based extracts) do consistently demonstrate some degree of antimicrobial and antifungal activity. Several studies have suggested that marshmallow extracts may have novel and valuable uses as topical treatments for skin inflammation, wound healing, and UVA-induced skin damage.

In Chinese medicine marshmallow is categorized as an herb that tonifies yin. It is classified as cool, moist, and bland and primarily affects the Lung, Stomach, Intestines, and Bladder meridians.

PREPARATION & ADMINISTRATION

Interestingly, using hot-water decoction as the means of extraction may not render any antioxidant compounds from the plant, though maintaining water temperature near 60°C/140°F for a long extraction period seems to help draw out more of those antioxidant properties. Nevertheless, people interested in the antioxidant effects of marshmallow supplementation may want to look into alcohol-based extracts, since the antioxidant effects will be easier to access. 

PRECAUTIONS

Marshmallow supplements may have notable diuretic effects. Consequently, people who are sensitive to or already taking diuretic medication should avoid using marshmallow root supplements. Common side-effects may include increased urine output and diarrhea, as well as symptoms of dehydration.

Marshmallow supplements derived from any part of the plant may also have abortifacient effects, so women who are pregnant should not take any of them. That said, women who are breastfeeding may find that topical applications of marshmallow leaf extracts, in combination with warm and cold compress treatment, may help improve lactation. As with any supplement, you should consult a physician, certified herbalist, or other qualified healthcare professional before taking.

REFERENCES

Al-Snafi, Ali. (2013). The Pharmaceutical importance of Althaea officinalis and Althaea rosea: A review. International Journal of PharmTech Research. 5. 1378-1385.

Benbassat, Niko, et al. “Influence of the Extraction Solvent on Antioxidant Activity of Althaea Officinalis L. Root Extracts.” Open Life Sciences, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, pp. 182–188., doi:10.2478/s11535-013-0245-2.

Curnow, Alison, and Sara J. Owen. “An Evaluation of Root Phytochemicals Derived FromAlthea Officinalis(Marshmallow) AndAstragalus Membranaceusas Potential Natural Components of UV Protecting Dermatological Formulations.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2016, 2016, pp. 1–9., doi:10.1155/2016/7053897.

Dawid-Pać, Renata. “Medicinal Plants Used in Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases.” Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, vol. 3, 2013, pp. 170–177., doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.35620.

Fahamiya, Nazeem, et al. “Unani Perspective of Khatmi (Althaea Officinalis).” Phytojournal.com, Oct. 2016, www.phytojournal.com/archives/2016/vol5issue6/PartE/5-6-35-802.pdf.

Ghavi, Peyman Pakrokh. “The Extraction Process Optimization of Antioxidant Polysaccharides from Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis L.) Roots.” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, vol. 75, 2015, pp. 51–57., doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2014.11.047.

Haghgoo, Roza, et al. “Antibacterial Effects of Different Concentrations of Althaea Officinalis Root Extract versus 0.2% Chlorhexidine and Penicillin on Streptococcus Mutans and Lactobacillus (In Vitro).” Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5558251/.

Khidyrova, N. K., et al. “Polyprenols from Leaves and Stems of the Plant Althaea Officinalis.” Chemistry of Natural Compounds, vol. 48, no. 3, 2012, pp. 358–360., doi:10.1007/s10600-012-0251-z.

Khosravan, Shahla, et al. “The Effect of Hollyhock (Althaea Officinalis L) Leaf Compresses Combined With Warm and Cold Compress on Breast Engorgement in Lactating Women.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, vol. 22, no. 1, 2016, pp. 25–30., doi:10.1177/2156587215617106.

Mahboubi, Mohaddese. “Marsh Mallow (Althaea Officinalis L.) and Its Potency in the Treatment of Cough.” Complementary Medicine Research, 2019, pp. 1–9., doi:10.1159/000503747.

Rezaei, Maryam, et al. “Evaluation of the Antibacterial Activity of the Althaea Officinalis L. Leaf Extract and Its Wound Healing Potency in the Rat Model of Excision Wound Creation.” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4418059/.

Shah, Dr Syed Mohammad Ali, and Akhtar Naveed. “Pharmacological Activity of Althaea Officinalis L.” ResearchGate, Journal of Medicinal Plant Research , Oct. 2011, www.researchgate.net/publication/260210868_Pharmacological_activity_of_Althaea_officinalis_L.

Tavassoli, Parisa, and Akbar Safipour Afshar. “Influence of Different Agrobacterium Rhizogenes Strains on Hairy Root Induction and Analysis of Phenolic and Flavonoid Compounds in Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis L.).” 3 Biotech, vol. 8, no. 8, 2018, doi:10.1007/s13205-018-1375-z.

Šutovská, M., et al. “Possible Mechanisms of Dose-Dependent Cough Suppressive Effect of Althaea Officinalis Rhamnogalacturonan in Guinea Pigs Test System.” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, vol. 45, no. 1, 2009, pp. 27–32., doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2009.03.008.

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