Parts used: Root – picked in the Autumn when the plant is two years old. Leaves – picked when in flower. Flowers.
Root: – 15-20% mucilage flavonoid glycosides; Phenolic acids; Tannins up to 2% and up to 35% Pectin; Asparagin; Starch; Polysaccharides; Phytosterols; Fatty acid esters and a Lecithin.
Leaves: – up to 10% mucilage; consisting of polysaccharides; Flavonoids – Kaempferol and Quercitin; traces of Essential oil; Coumarin – Scopoletin; Polyphenolic acids – Caffein, Salicylic and Vanillin acids.
Root: – Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Vulnery.
Leaf:- Demulcent; Expectorant; Diuretic; Emollient; Antilithic.
Flowers: – Expectorant.
Root: – Gastritis; Gastric or Peptic ulceration; Ulcerative collitis; Enteritis; Inflammation of the mouth or pharynx; Respiratory catarrh with irritating dry cough; Cystitis.
Can be used locally for varicose veins and thrombotic ulcers.
Specifically indicated for duodenal or gastric ulcers.
Leaf: – Cough; Bronchitis; Respiratory catarrh; Cystitis; Urethritis: Urinary gravel or calculi.
Use locally for abcesses, boils and ulcers.
Specifically indicated for respiratory catarrh associated with digestive weakness.
Below is a list of systems it is valuable for treating:
Urinary system – this herb soothes the mucous membranes and relieves cystitis, urethritis and irritable bladder. It is a diuretic and helps the passing of gravel and stones.
Digestion – Anti-inflammatory for ulcerative collitis, gastritis and peptic ulcers. The mucilage in this herb soothes the mucous membranes. It soothes heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation from dryness. It helps reduce peristalsis and helps alleviate diarrhoea. In larger doses it can have a laxative effect.
Reproductive system – helps stimulate the flow of breast milk.
Respiratory – it is a mild expectorant, soothing mucous membranes, therefore soothing harsh, dry coughs and sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis and croup. It helps to clear catarrh and reduce inflammation.
Immune system – it helps to stimulate the production of white blood cells.
External uses: The leaves can be used by placing on the skin to reduce inflammation from insect bites, wasp and bee stings.
It helps to soothe and heal inflamed skin from eczema, acne and sore nipples.
It can be used as a mouthwash or gargle to treat sore throats and inflamed gums.
It can be used as a poultice to treat mastitis, boils and abcesses.
Please remember that most scientific research with regard to herbs, is usually carried out on certain constituents of a given herb and not on the whole herb. It is also important to note that experiments done in vivo or vitro are not always representative of the results found in clinical research.
Research carried out on a constituent of Althea officinalis, called Rhamnogalacturonan, confirmed its efficacy in suppressing coughs (dose dependent). The effectiveness was comparable to Codeine (a narcotic analgesic), which is the best available medicine used in Medicine for the treatment of coughs, (Sutovska et al., 2009).
Modern research supports the use of aqueous extracts for dry cough, resulting from irritation of the mouth, pharyngeal and gastric mucosa. The bioadhesive effects of the polysaccharides (from Althea officinalis) are shown by their adherence to the epithelial mucosa. This protects the cells from localised irritation. Research also supports the antitussive actions of Althea officinalis as well as the use of topical applications to reduce inflammation. Aqueous extracts of Althea officinalis stimulate cellular activity and the production of epithelial cells. It also showed the passive mucilaginous, barrier enhancing effects of these aqueous extracts on connective tissues, (Deters et al., 2010).
Sutovska, M., Nosalova, G., Sutovsky, J., Franova, S., Prisenznakova, L., and Capek, P., (2009) Possible mechanisms of dose-dependent cough suppressive effect of Althea officinalis rhamnogalacturonan in guinea pits test system. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 45:27-32.
Deters, A., Zippel, J., Hellenbrand, N., Pappai, D., Possemeyer, C., and Hensel, A., (2010). Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from Marshmallow roots, (Althea officinalis): Cellular internalisation and stimulation of cell physiology of human epithelial cells in vitro. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 127(1):62-69.