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Summer brings vacations, camping, bon-fires and…. marshmallows! Did you know that the now-a-day marshmallows actually originated from a very useful herb?


Marshmallow has been widely used in healing for 2500 years, and it has been used as a food that was eaten during famines. Its history as a healer goes back to Hippocrates, who prescribed a decoction of marshmallow roots to treat bruises and blood loss. The Romans also used it, and the Roman naturalist Pliny stated, “Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the mallows shall that day be free from all diseases.” Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century English herbalist, used it for his son when he was taken with what was then called, “The Bloody Flux”. He had great success with it and highly recommended it for fevers, pleurisy, coughs, respiratory problems, tuberculosis, and more.

It was the French that first made candied marshmallow. They peeled the root bark and exposed the white pulp. Then boiled it to soften it and added sugar to make a spongy stick.


The Marshmallow plant, especially the leaves and roots, contains polysaccharides that have antitussive, mucilaginous, and antibacterial properties. This is why marshmallow has a soothing effect on inflamed membranes, and has been used for sore throats, as it helps reduce dry coughing and prevent further irritation.

Marshmallow’s soothing action for sore throats applies to gastrointestinal mucosa as well. Its healing and mucilaginous properties is effective and useful for digestive disorders, heartburn, colitis, indigestion, ulcers and Crohn’s disease. Taking some regularly is said to help ease the pain of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, and prevent stomach ulcers from perforation. Marshmallow has been used historically for respiratory disorders and now there may be evidence that it does help, even for asthma.

Marshmallow’s main therapeutic actions are: demulcent, emollient, mucilage, anti-inflamatory. As an mucilage, marshmallow produces a thick sticky substance that coats membranes. Marshmallow contains flavanoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These reduce inflammation and the mucilage holds them in place and prevents further damage. Marshmallow is also known to help speed up healing. When you combine these proberties, it is understandable why it works so well on most inflammatory digestive disorders.

Marshmallow has also been used historically for gangrene. Typically, a large pot of marshmallow would be heated and then the leg or infected part would be submerged and soaked in it. Dr. Christopher used this procedure successfully to save limbs many times.

I hope you enjoyed this information about another great and useful herb. At Herbs4You, we carry marshmallow in bulk and in several of our powder mixes and capsules.


We’re here to help YOU!
Amy Willis MH, CTN

About the Author

Amy Willis M.H., CTN

Master Herbalist, Board Certified Naturopath
Amy is the Owner and Founder of Herbs4You. She is a Master Herbalist from the School of Natural Healing, and Board Certified Naturopath from the American Naturopathic Medical Association. Amy has 30 years experience with herbs and 15 years experience muscle testing.