Munson Health
 
Marshmallow

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Uses

 

Principal Proposed Uses

The similarity in name between the herb marshmallow and the sweet treat is more than a coincidence, although the modern sugar puff ball no longer bears much relationship to the old-fashioned candy flavored with marshmallow herb.
Besides inspiring makers of campfire food, the marshmallow has also been used medicinally since ancient Greece. Hippocrates spoke of it as a treatment for bruises and blood loss, and subsequent Roman physicians recommended marshmallow for toothaches, insect bites, chilblains, and irritated skin. In medieval Europe, herbalists used marshmallow to soothe toothaches, coughs, sore throats, chapped skin, indigestion, and diarrhea.
 

What Is Marshmallow Used for Today?

On the basis of its supposed soothing properties, tea or lozenges containing marshmallow tea are often recommended for asthma , cough , colds , and sore throat. Marshmallow taken as tea or in capsules is sometimes recommended for Crohn's disease or ulcers , on the theory that mucilage might sooth the lining of the digestive tract. Finally, marshmallow ointment is sometimes recommended for irritated skin.
 

Safety Issues

Marshmallow is believed to be entirely safe. It is approved for use in foods, and its chemical makeup does not suggest any but benign effects. 1 However, detailed safety studies have not been performed. One study suggests that marshmallow can slightly lower blood sugar levels. 2 For this reason, people with diabetes should use caution when taking marshmallow. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
 

References

1
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals . London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:188.

2
Tomoda M, Shimizu N, Oshima Y, et al. Hypoglycemic activity of twenty plant mucilages and three modified products. Planta Med .1987;53:8–12.

 

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