Best Marshmallow Root for Cough (Althaea officinalis)

best marshmallow root for cough

Marshmallow is one of those amazing plants with many proven health benefits. There are hundreds of studies and scientific papers about the benefits of marshmallow root for cough alone.

If you want respiratory benefits though, it’s important that you take the right type of supplement. Here’s what you need to know about taking marshmallow for cough, types and the best marshmallow root extracts and powders.


Quick Pick: Christopher’s Original Lung Plus Bronchial

Why:  It contains glycerin-extracted marshmallow root, which is considered the best method for extracted mucilage, plus 5 other potent herbs for lung health.

*Keep reading for more top picks.

How Marshmallow Root Helps Coughs

Marshmallow root is a natural treatment for dry cough.  When taken orally, special sugars in marshmallow root adhere to and coat mucus cells.  This allows it to act as a demulcent, soothing inflammation and irritation. It also acts as an antitussive to suppress coughing. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)


Other Respiratory Benefits of Marshmallow Root

Studies also show that marshmallow root acts as an antimicrobial and can boost the immune function.  These health benefits help treat the underlying cause of the cough and not just treat the symptoms. (6)


Active Compounds in Marshmallow

Marshmallow plant contains flavonoid antioxidants, coumarin, quercetin, phenolic acids and many other healthy compounds. When it comes to treating cough though, the main compound is a type of polysaccharide called mucilage.

Most of the mucilage in marshmallow is found in the roots of the plant.  Older plants will contain higher amounts of mucilage.  Thus, for best results, choose a marshmallow supplement which only contains the root of a mature plant (7, 8)


Best Marshmallow Root for Cough

Because mucilage isn’t digested or broken down in alcohol well, the best marshmallow root products for cough are glycerin extracts.  Marshmallow root tea and dry root powders also work against cough but you may need to take more of them to get the same results.


1. Christopher’s Original Formulas Lung Plus Bronchial Supplement

This is one of the best natural cough formulas you can find.  It contains marshmallow root as well as mullein, chickweed, lobelia, lungwort and pleurisy root.  All the plants were extracted with glycerin, which is known to work better for mucilage than the alcohol extraction method.

  • Glycerin extract
  • Contains six respiratory herbs
  • Mostly organic ingredients
  • 2 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here

2. MaryRuth’s Organic Respiratory Health Liquid Drops

Here is another great respiratory formula.  The main ingredient in this one is mullein, followed by marshmallow root, angelica root, elder berry, orange peel and calendula flower.  I personally think the Christopher’s formula is better for lung health, but the orange peel in this one gives it a nice taste.

  • Glycerin extract
  • Contains 6 medicinal herbs
  • Organic
  • 1 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here

3. HawaiiPharm Glycerin Extract Marshmallow Root

While this small brand isn’t very well known, they make a lot of great medicinal plant extracts.  Their marshmallow root is extracted using glycerin so it should contain a high amount of mucilage.  The company also always lists their menstruum ratio (amount of plant matter to solvent used) and the country of origin of their plants – both very good signs!

In this case, the marshmallow is sourced from Albania.  I’ve actually been to Albania several times and it has amazing nature and a great climate for growing marshmallow.

  • Glycerin extract
  • 1:3 menstruum ratio
  • Sourced from Albania
  • 2 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here

4. Nature’s Answer Marshmallow Root Extract

Nature’s Answer is a very large, popular brand which sells medicinal plant extracts and remedies.  Their marshmallow root is made with their patented “bio-chelation” process.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t actually tell us much about how the marshmallow root extract was made.

It is possible that the marshmallow was extracted with alcohol and then the alcohol was evaporated afterwards and finally glycerin was added for shelf stability.   Because alcohol typically does not extract mucilage well, this would not be an ideal process.   However, the extract does still seem to be very concentrated with its 1:1 menstruum ratio. It is very popular so may be worth buying if you like the brand-name trust that come with Nature’s Answer.

  • Bio-chelation extraction process
  • Non-alcohol formula
  • 1:1 menstruum ratio
  • 1 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here

5. Frontier Organic Marshmallow Root

When it comes to bulk natural herbs, you can’t get much better than Frontier.  They have connections with organic growers around the world.  Their marshmallow root comes from Bulgaria and seems to be very fresh.  It’s great if you want to make your own marshmallow extracts, syrups, or marshmallow tea.

  • Dried cut marshmallow root
  • Sourced from Bulgaria
  • Organic
  • 1lb bag
  • Buy Here

6. Nature’s Way Marshmallow Capsules

While capsules may not be the best way to take marshmallow root for coughs, it is definitely the most convenient. These capsules by Nature’s Way are organic and certified non-GMO. They are also a very reputable company when it comes to using trusted suppliers and testing their products for heavy metals.

  • Capsules
  • 480mg root powder per capsule
  • 100 capsules per bottle
  • Buy Here

7. Elanen Organic Marshmallow Root

Here’s another good option for dry marshmallow root.  The company claims it is organic but they do not maintain certified organic status (it is expensive to get certified).  I like that they list their country of origin, which is Croatia or Bulgaria.   It’s a great product for making tea or your own marshmallow extracts.

  • Dried cut marshmallow root
  • 8oz bag
  • Organic*
  • Sourced from Croatia or Bulgaria
  • Buy Here


Types of Marshmallow Root Supplements

Marshmallow root supplements comes as:

  • Tea: Dried root steeped in hot water
  • Loose powder: The powder is mixed into a liquid and then consumed. These are sometimes called “extracts” even though they are not true extracts.
  • Capsule: Capsules usually contain dried root powder
  • Extract: The dried root is soaked in a solvent (alcohol, glycerin or oil) and then strained out.


Best Way to Take Marshmallow Root for Cough

When it comes to treating cough, the best way to take marshmallow root is as a glycerin extract.  This is because the human body generally does not digest mucilage well.  The extraction process concentrates the mucilage and allows it to be absorbed by the body better so it can act on the lungs.  Glycerin appears to do a better job extracting mucilage than alcohol.  Oil extracts are another option but have a shorter shelf life.

Tea, powder and capsule forms of marshmallow root can also be used for cough but they are generally better for digestive health.


For Best Results, Combine Marshmallow with Other Herbs

In one study, researchers found that marshmallow root worked better against cough when combined with other natural herbs. (9)

This shouldn’t come as a surprise: no single plant is “perfect” at fighting coughs. Each plant has its own unique chemical profile.  By taking multiple herbal remedies, you can attack the cough from multiple fronts and get better results.

Some other natural herbs for dry cough are:


Marshmallow Dose for Cough

The dose of marshmallow root for cough is usually:

  • Glycerin Extracts: 1-2ml (20-30 drops) of extract up to 4x per day
  • Capsules or powder: Up to 6,000mg per day, in divided doses
  • Tea: 1 Tbsp. of marshmallow root steeped in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes and strained; drink 3-4x per day


Other sources for this article:

Image credit: “IMG_8011” (CC BY 2.0) by shalommama

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