Healing Properties of Althea Root (Marshmallow Root)

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Althea Root

Healing Properties of Althea Root (Marshmallow Root)

Althea Root aids the body in expelling excess fluid and mucus and will soothe the mucous membranes and a dry, hacking cough. Good for treating bladder infection, digestive upsets, fluid retention, intestinal disorders, kidney problems, sinusitis, and sore throat. It is a natural source of beta-carotene, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. It is often used as filler in the compounding of pills. Althea Root soothes!


Althea Root or Marsh Mallow is a rich source of healing mucilage, and its genus name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek althe (to cure).   The use of Althea Root originated in traditional Greek medicine and later spread to Arabian and Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Long used as a healing herb, Althea Root was eaten by the Egyptians and Syrians and mentioned by Pythagoras, Plato, and Virgil. The plant was enjoyed by the Romans in barley soup and in a stuffing for suckling pig, while classical herbalists praised its gentle laxative properties.

It was used in Persia to reduce inflammation in teething babies, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne (A.D. 800-814), insisted that Althea be planted throughout his kingdom, and in the nineteenth century, some doctors made a meringue from the plant’s root juices, egg whites, and sugar that hardened into a medicinal candy, which was used to soothe children’s sore throats. Althea Root is a hardy perennial that grows best in wet, marshy areas.

Plant Description

The plant bears hibiscus-like blossoms of light red to white or purple in color and may grow to a height of four to six feet. All parts of the plant are used in various ways, i.e., medicinal, decorative, culinary, and cosmetic purposes, but the root is mainly used for medicinal purposes. Althea Root is rich in mucilage, paraffin, pectin, lecithin, tannins, acids, beta-carotene, amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, B-vitamins, and vitamin C.

Medical Uses

Althea (Marshmallow) Root’s particular excellence involves soothing irritated tissue and relieves various forms of inflammation, especially of the mucous membranes, since it is high in mucilage, which is very soothing to the membranes. It aids the body in expelling excess fluid and mucus. The herb is used in many lung preparations and cough syrups to alleviate a dry, hacking cough and laryngitis. It is also known to be a good expectorant, helping to loosen and expel phlegm from the lungs.

Althea Root is an old-time remedy for gastrointestinal disorders, strengthening the digestive system because it contains polysaccharides that form a protective layer on the stomach lining and will lower stomach acids. The herb is frequently used to treat ulcers and colitis.

The herb improves the functioning of the immune system since it is known to stimulate phagocytosis, the immune process in which cells called macrophages to engulf and digest infectious micro-organisms.   Althea Root may be used externally in an ointment as an emollient to soften and soothe skin and dry hands. The high mucilage content will also promote rapid healing of diaper rash, skin ulcers, sunburns, and psoriasis, and problem skin.

Precautions: None

Herbal Guide Staff


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