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Marshmallow

Marshmallow

Botanical Description & Habitat

Althea officinale

Family
Malvaceae

Common names

AltheaCheese plant
GuimauveMortification root
SweetweedWhite mallow
Wymote



Habitat
Found in Europe, North Africa, western Asia, and North America. It is a perennial plant which grows in moist, swampy places.

Description
The stem is erect, round, and woolly, arising from the pale yellow root. It grows from two to four feet in height, producing ovate, pubescent leaves with irregularly serrate margins. The flowers are pink, pinkish-blue, or purple, and are one to two inches in diameter.

Medicinal parts
Root picked in autumn, dried and peeled; leaves picked in August; flowers, dried.

Historical Properties & Uses

Marshmallow is one of the best mucilaginous herbs (containing up to 35% mucilage, with homogeneous mucilaginous polysaccharides as high as 12%), and is a favored treatment for diseases of the respiratory organs.

Traditional uses (wounds, sore throat etc.) have been dated back 2,000 years.

Marshmallow's mucilaginous nature makes it ideal for soothing irritated and inflamed mucosal surfaces. It is used not only to soothe coughs and whooping coughs, but also for bronchial and pulmonary catarrh, hoarseness, bronchial asthma, and tuberculosis. It is also taken for inflammatory and catarrhal afflictions of the genital-urinary and gastrointestinal systems, as well as cystitis, urinary incontinence, painful urination, gonorrhea, enteritis, diarrhea, dysentery, and infantile cholera. Marshmallow is an extremely effective demulcent and emollient. Above all, it is the primary herb of choice in catarrh of the upper respiratory tract. Marshmallow is used in many over-the-counter preparations for the above conditions.

Marshmallow has a fine pectin content (10%), and is valuable for its fibrous nature.

In Europe, marshmallow is commonly used to support the body's immune system; it is often given to infants as a natural teething ring.

Marshmallow leaf and root have approval status by the German Commission E for mucosal irritation associated with dry cough. The root is also useful for mild inflammation of the gastric mucosa.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. August, 1991.

Method of Action

Although no published studies have demonstrated marshmallow's mechanism of action, common sense dictates its high content of mucilage would support its use as a demulcent and emollient in the treatment of sore and/or inflamed tissues.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Known Interactions

Diuretics such as marshmallow may potentiate the action of antihypertensive, ganglionic or peripheral adrenergic blocking drugs, tubocurarine and, to a lesser degree, norepinephrine.

The German Commission E notes no known interactions. However, it recognizes that absorption of other drugs, taken simultaneously, may be delayed.

Possible Interactions

In general, the use of diuretics may require dose adjustments of antidiabetic drugs. The diuretic action of marshmallow may also reduce renal clearance of lithium.

In conjunction with corticotropin (ACTH) or corticosteroids, this diuretic is more prone to produce hypokalemia.

Comments

Prolonged use of this diuretic may affect certain laboratory test results such as electrolytes, especially potassium and sodium, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), uric acid, glucose, and protein bound iodine (PBI).

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Marshmallow possesses no known toxicity.

Marshmallow leaf and root have approval status by the German Commission E.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried leaf
2-5 grams

Tea
made from 1-3 tsp of dried leaf

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 2-5 ml

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

Marshmallow leaf: 5 g.

Marshmallow root: 6 g.

Marshmallow syrup: 10 g.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.

References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Chambers, G., R.J. Kerry & G. Owen. 1977. Lithium used with a diuretic. British Medical Journal, 2. pp. 805-806.

Chiles, V.K. 1968. Drug interactions and the pharmacist. Canadian Pharaceutical Journal, 101(7). pp. 241-247.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

De Martinis, M., et.al. Milk thistle (silybum marianum) derivatives in the therapy of chronic hepatopathies. Clin. Ter., 94(3). pp. 283-315.

Drug package insert (FDA approved official brochure) and other labeling based on sponsored clinical investigations and New Drug Application data.

Goldner, M.G., H. Zarowitz & S. Akgun. 1960. Hyperglycemia and glycosuria due to thiazide derivatives administered in diabetes mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine, 262(Feb 2). pp. 403-405.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hansten, P.D. 1968. Antidiabetic drug interactions. Hospital Form. Management, 4(2). pp. 30-32.

Hurtig, H.I. & W.L. Dyson. 1974. Lithium toxicity enhanced by diuresis. New England J of Med, 290(Mar 28). pp. 748-749.

Hyde, F.F. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Assoc: West Yorks, England, 1983

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. August, 1991.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Lutz, E.G. 1975. Lithium toxicity precipitated by diuretics. Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey, 72(5). pp. 439-440.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Miller, R. et.al. 1976. Enhancement of d-tubocurarine neuromuscular blockage by diuretics in man. Anesth, 45. p.442.

Miller, L. & R. Lindeman. Red Blood Cell and Serum Selenium Concentration as Influenced by Age and Selected Diseases. Journal Of Am College Nutrition, 2. 1983.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983

Thorn, G.W. 1966. Clin considerations in the use of corticosteroids. New England J of Medicine, 274(Apr 7). pp. 775-781.

Tuttle, C.B. 1969. Drug interactions. Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 22(5-6). pp. 2-15.

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