What is marshmallow root?
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is the root of the marshmallow plant. It appears as a long, slender root with a rough brownish surface and a ‘fluffy’ white inner flesh which has a high concentration of mucilage. For many centuries marshmallow root has been used very successfully in both human and veterinary medicine to help with a range of health concerns. It can be particularly beneficial for our horses and ponies due to its high mucilage content, which forms a gelatinous consistency when exposed to moisture (such as in the gastrointestinal tract).
Benefits of marshmallow root for horses
Marshmallow root is renowned for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a valuable aid in addressing a number of digestive issues in horses. It can be especially beneficial for horses with or prone to developing gastric ulcers. The herb's mucilage content forms a gel-like coating along the gastrointestinal tract, protecting the sensitive stomach lining from acid exposure, promoting the healing process for existing damage and reducing irritation. For this reason marshmallow root is also an ideal dietary additive for particularly stressy and anxious horses, performance horses, thoroughbreds and horses fed a high concentrate diet as they are much more prone to developing gastric ulcers.
Benefits of marshmallow root for seasonal mares
Mares can often lose their appetite whilst in season. Whilst this is relatively common and not a huge concern, it can increase their risk of developing gastric ulcers if they are not consuming enough forage. Adding a mucilage such as marshmallow root to your mare’s diet whilst she is in season can help protect her stomach lining to minimise the risk of developing ulcers. Older horses with a more limited appetite and those who struggle to consume adequate amounts of forage can also benefit from having marshmallow root added to their diets for this reason.
Marshmallow root for specific health concerns
Hind gut health
Marshmallow root is also a great option for promoting hind gut health. Marshmallow root works to promote a healthy and balanced microbiome which is essential for the optimum digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. It can also work to improve stool quality making it useful for horses who suffer from frequent loose droppings and faecal water syndrome.
Marshmallow root can be extremely beneficial for horses who experience a range of respiratory issues including coughing, COPD and allergies, all of which can effect athletic performance and overall well-being. Marshmallow root acts as a natural expectorant which helps to loosen and expel mucus to alleviate congestion in the respiratory tract. Its high mucilage content can also help soothe irritated mucous membranes in the respiratory tract, which are commonly seen with these conditions, to help keep your horse breathing comfortably.
Skin & Coat Health
Marshmallow root has also been known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For these reasons it can help provide relief for horses with sweet itch and other allergic or inflammatory skin conditions. By binding to and eliminating toxins from the body, marshmallow root supports blood cleansing which is the perfect way to promote skin and coat health from the inside out.
Where to find marshmallow root
Look for a natural alternative and check the ingredients list! Often it will be mixed with other natural ingredients to ensure maximum efficacy for your horse. That way your horse will get the benefit of the wonders of multiple natural ingredients!