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Marshmallow Root

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using marshmallow root (Althea officinalis). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: All oral medications. Marshmallow contains a type of soft fiber called mucilage, which can decrease the body's absorption of all oral medications. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 2 - Iron Salts: Marshmallow may decrease the absorption of iron salts.

Warning 3 - Lithium: Marshmallow may decrease the body's ability to get rid of lithium, which could increase the amount of lithium in the body. If you are taking lithium talk to your doctor before using marshmallow.

Warning 4 - Surgery: Marshmallow may decrease blood sugar, which could interfere with control of blood sugar during and after surgical procedures. Stop taking marshmallow at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Warning 5 - Diabetes: There is a concern that marshmallow may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar carefully if you use marshmallow. If you use medication to treat diabetes talk to your doctor before using marshmallow. The dosage of your medication may need to adjusted. Examples of drugs used to treat diabetes include:
  • chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
  • glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
  • insulin
  • pioglitazone (Actos)
  • rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • tolbutamide (Orinase)
  • and others
Used as a natural health remedy the roots of the marshmallow plant are used internally for the following benefits and conditions:
  • Aid for weight loss (marshmallow swells with fluid and gives a sense of fullness)
  • Asthma, reduce inflammation
  • Bronchitis
  • Common cold
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry cough
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Indigestion
  • inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS and Crohn's disease)
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Sore throat
  • Wound healing
  • Marshmallow root has been reported to increase milk production in lactating dogs but studies are still in process to find out if this works in humans.
Additional clinical research is necessary to examine the efficacy of using marshmallow root as a treatment for these conditions.

Marshmallow root and marshmallow leaf are used externally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • insect bites
  • abscesses
  • skin ulcers
  • inflammation
  • burns
  • chapped skin
  • pain and swelling of cold hands and feet
  • wound healing
  • moisturizer for skin

Side Effects of Marshmallow

There are no known side effects of using this herb, which make marshmallow one of the safest herbs. If you believe there are side effects of using marshmallow, use the form below to report them.

This herb has several alternative names: Common Marshmallow, Mallards, schloss tea, mortification root, sweet weed, hock herb, wymote, mauls, and cheeses plant (named after the flat, round fruit).

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on marshmallow and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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