When we think of marshmallow most of us think of the soft and sweet lollies you roast over a campfire.

However, in the world of traditional plant medicine, Marshmallow is a different edible entirely and one that is particularly helpful when you need to soothe a sore throat.

Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) has been used medicinally for more than two thousand years. It is a traditional plant superstar and one of the best remedies to have when you are suffering from a sore, itchy and irritated throat. It protects the mucous membranes from tissue damage due to infection and soothes the nose, throat and mouth, providing pain relief. Another benefit is that it relieves dry coughs and bronchitis. The ground root of Marshmallow was actually the original basis for the sweet treat we now know!

Sore throats and coughs in winter can leave children and adults feeling fatigued and worn out. It is best to look for a natural formula that fortifies the immune system while also addressing coughs on many levels, including reducing mucus production, promoting effective expulsion as well as soothing membranes to alleviate coughing. An important ingredient in such formula is Marshmallow root - which the Commission E of the German Ministry of Health officially approved for irritation of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa and associated dry cough, and for mild inflammation of the gastric mucosa. Marshmallow is also officially listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia and positively covered by the WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants (Vol. 2). The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use internally for gastroenteritis, peptic and duodenal ulceration, common and ulcerative colitis, and enteritis. Its soothing properties lend itself to so many ailments.

The common marshmallow plant. Photo / Getty Images
The common marshmallow plant. Photo / Getty Images

Marshmallow is traditionally used together with Plantain and Mullein. They further help to reduce mucus formation and assist in breaking down existing mucus, making it easier to expel, thereby creating a more productive cough. These soothing herbs are complemented well by Thyme, another plant superstar that is particularly handy in the winter months. Not only does it help to strengthen and fortify the immune system, it is a spasmolytic and expectorant herb that has additional scientifically proven anti-microbial and anti-viral benefits, activating immune response to fight infection. It is also a great plant to take once an illness has passed, to build the immune system back up and help protect against future infections.

If you are feeling ill and your condition worsens or does not improve, please see your leading health care professional.