Marshmallow root is a wonderful plant which has a host of powerful properties. Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) is a green, stalky perennial plant with large white flowers pollinated by bees. Marshmallow is a hardy plant which grows wild in fields and meadows in conditions that are sunny but cool. It grows mainly in marshy conditions (hence the name) such as on the edges of marshland and close to watercourses such as creeks, rivers and lakes. The root is dried and chopped and looks quite barky, however it's quite soft and contains soft fluff-like fibres.
When Marshmallow is growing in a grazing field, horses will readily consume it and enjoy the taste of it so palatability isn’t an issue when feeding this herb. Both the root and the leaves are edible and provide benefits but our focus in this article will be on the root.
Marshamallow root has a high mucilage content which forms a protective layer over inflamed mucous membranes. This makes it especially useful for horses with gut issues or ulcers, which are characterised by painful inflammation. The mucilage content of marshmallow root allows it to form a protective, soothing layer over the ulcerated area and prevent further contact with acid splash. These benefits extend throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract and make marshmallow root a go-to herb for equine digestive issues.
In addition to it’s high mucilage content, marshmallow root contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is high in pectin, which can improve intestinal function and help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Marshmallow has soothing and relieving effects on the mucous membranes of the respiratory and urinary tracts as well and has been shown to alleviate coughs, sore throats, cystitis and urinary tract inflammation.
The benefits of Marshmallow extend beyond just feeding it and the powdered root can be applied for relief externally as well. Mixed with water, it can be used as a poultice to address skin inflammation, rashes, cuts etc.
The profound benefits of marshmallow root for the equine gut make it a herb that I find incredibly helpful and worth including in the diet of every horse. Given that our products all have a focus on gut health and maintaining optimal gut function, marshmallow root features in a number of our products including No More Nerves, Summer Thriving and our soon-to-be-released, Cough Be Gone Blends.
Fun Fact - The sweet, candy marshmallows we eat today used to be made from cooked marshmallow root!
Do you feed your horse marshmallow root? Let us know about the benefits you’ve noticed in the comments below!