Marshmallows can treat skin irritation and wounds – just not the store-bought variety
10/01/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

The marshmallows that most people know are the sugary, spongy candies that are unhealthy. However, the marshmallow plant (Althea officinalis), where the candy got its name from, can be used to treat skin irritation and wounds.

Marshmallow is a flowering plant that is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. It has a root that looks like a brown, fibrous husk. The flowers, leaves, and root of this plant are all edible. Its medicinal properties come from the mucilage that the marshmallow plant produces. This sap-like substance contains antioxidants and other active ingredients, such as arabinans, arabinogalactans, galacturonorhamnans, and glucans.

Marshmallow root extract may soothe skin irritation

The skin is the most extensive and diverse organ of the human body. It can sometimes be inflamed due to some triggers, such as pathogens, noxious mechanical and chemical agents, and autoimmune responses. Inflamed skin is characterized by redness, swelling, itching, heat, and pain.

A review published in the journal Advances in Dermatology and Allerlogy suggested that applying marshmallow root extract on the inflamed skin may soothe skin irritation caused by eczema and damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, or sun exposure – the leading cause of skin cancer and premature skin aging. The mucilage of marshmallow root is also used to coat tissues and prevent irritation. In addition, the herbal extract has cooling and moisturizing properties which are helpful in relieving irritated, red, and inflamed skin.

Marshmallow root extract may help heal wounds faster

Marshmallow plant extracts may also be used to heal wounds faster. In one animal study, researchers from  Lorestan University of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, and Ilam University of Medical Sciences in Iran looked at the antibacterial activity and wound healing potential of marshmallow extract.


The Iranian researchers found that the extract exhibited antibacterial activity against gram-positive bacteria. In addition, topical administration of the extract on wounded rats significantly increased the speed of wound healing. They published their results in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine.

Other health benefits of the marshmallow plant

The marshmallow plant can be used as an all-around herbal remedy. Aside from healing wounds and soothing skin irritation, here are some more health benefits you can get from the marshmallow plant:

  • Relieving coughs and colds – Marshmallow root may help treat coughs and colds because of its high mucilaginous content. It also appears to serve as an enzyme that loosens mucus and fights bacteria. Marshmallow root extract is available in lozenges, nasal sprays and cough syrups. You can also drink a few cups of bagged marshmallow tea for cough and cold relief. The only downside to taking marshmallow root is that it can suppress the body's absorption of other nutrients. For this reason, it is recommended to have at least a two to three hour interval between your intake of marshmallow root and other medicinal herbs.
  • Easing pain – Research shows that marshmallow root can relieve pain by acting as an analgesic, particularly pain or irritation caused by a sore throat or an abrasion.
  • Acting as a diuretic – Drinking marshmallow tea can help your body flush out excess fluid. This will help cleanse your kidneys and bladder. Additionally, its soothing effect can relieve irritation and inflammation in the urinary tract.
  • Aiding in digestion – There is some evidence suggesting that marshmallow root can potentially treat digestive problems, such as constipation, heartburn, and intestinal colic. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Learn more natural ways of treating skin irritation and wounds at

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