Althaea Officinalis

Velvety perennial that can grow up to 2.2m. The roots are thick, tough and long, whitish yellow outside, whilst white and fibrous within. The leaves are ovate-cordate and 2-3 inches in length with pink flowers that bloom during August and September. The flowers are followed by flat round fruit commonly called ‘cheeses’.

Family: Malvaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Marshmallow is a key herb in Breathe

Habit and cultivation: Native to most countries in Europe, it grows best in salt marshes, damp meadows, by the side of ditches, by the sea and on the banks of tidal rivers.

Actions (known for): Leaf and root: demulcent-mucilage, emollient-mucilage and diuretic. Root also vulnerably. Leaf also expectorant.


The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek altho (to cure), due to its healing properties. The family Malvaceae is derived from the Greek malake (soft), due to the special qualities of softening and healing. Reference to this herb was made as early as 372 BC by the philosopher Theophrastus who wrote that marshmallow taken in sweet wine was helpful for coughs. It has been used in making sweets of the same name.

Parts used:

Leaves, roots and flowers.

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Mucilage, glucokinins, adenosine, phytosterols and flavonoids.

Nutritional constituents:

Very high in vitamin A, also vitamin B complex. Minerals: calcium, zinc, iron, sodium and iodine.


Gastro-oesophageal reflux, peptic ulcer and gastritis. Asthma, acute and chronic bronchitis, cough, cystitis, urethritis, dysuria, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, IBS, constipation and ulcerative colitis. Topically: abscesses, furunculosis, leg ulcer, pharyngitis, laryngitis, varicose ulcer and burns.


400 – 1200 mg fully dried powder.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

Be aware of those taking anti-coagulant and anti-platelet medications as a dose adjustment may be necessary.

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