The Benefits of Althaea

Althaea (Marsh Mallow), white flowers, green leaves on long stem, and dried seeds
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What is Althaea?

Althaea is a plant used in herbal medicine. It has a white colored root and tastes slightly sweet. In fact, it's also called marshmallow, because it was an ingredient in the original marshmallow recipe.

Althaea can be found online or at health food stores in dried loose form.

Uses for Althaea

Althaea root contains a high percent of mucilage, a substance that swells and becomes gel-like when mixed with water.

Once it has swelled, the mucilage is thought to soothe irritation.

1) Cough and Sore Throat

Althaea tea is recommended by some alternative practitioners for sore throat and coughing. The effectiveness of this herbal remedy, however, hasn't been studied. Althaea can also be found at the natural health food store in herbal cough syrups.

2) Ulcers, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease

Some alternative practitioners suggest althaea for these conditions, although it hasn't been tested. The mucilage in althaea is said to coat the lining of the stomach and intestines and reduce inflammation.

3) Irritated Skin

Some herbalists use althaea to soothe irritated skin. Powdered althaea root is mixed with enough warm water to make a paste and applied to the affected area. A layer of gauze or cloth is placed over the area. If any itching or irritation occurs, it is rinsed immediately. It's usually left on for up to 30 minutes and then the cloth is removed and the area rinsed thoroughly.

Althaea Tea

To make althaea tea, add one to two tablespoons dried althaea root to one cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep overnight and strain out the solids. A typical recommendation is one cup per day.

To shorten the steeping time, powdered marshmallow root may be used, which has been ground to a fine powder and doesn't need to be steeped for as long.

It can be made following the same instructions, but steeped for at least one hour before straining.

Caveats

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular use of althaea.

Theoretically, althaea shouldn't be taken within two hours of taking prescription drugs. Because althaea is said to coat the digestive tract (in herbal medicine), it may interfere with their absorption.

Some people are allergic to althaea and shouldn't take it.

Althaea may affect blood sugar levels, so it should not be used by people with diabetes or hypoglycemia unless under the supervision of a health practitioner.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Using Althaea for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend althaea as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using althaea for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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