Marshmallow officinalis is a perennial densely pubescent plant due to the presence of stellate branched hairs, has one or more stems and a strong branched short rhizome with rather thick, long fleshy roots. The stems are mostly erect, simple, sometimes branched in the upper part, from 50 to 150 cm high. The leaves are alternate, depending on the placement on the stem, they have a different shape of the leaf blade. The upper leaves are long-petiolate, ovate, pointed, unevenly tubular-toothed at the edges, ovate-oblong, three-lobed with an elongated middle scapula, and broadly wedge-shaped at the base; middle leaves are slightly rounded or almost flat at the base; the lower leaves are larger and wider than the rest, three-, five-lobed, sometimes heart-shaped at the base. All marshmallow leaves are grayish-green in color and pubescent. Althea flowers are located on pedicels, crowded at the top of the stem and placed on common peduncles emerging from the axils of the upper and middle leaves, with a subcup, characteristic of plants of the Malvaceae family; sepals broadly ovate, hairy, pointed. Corolla pale pink, not very open, consists of 5 petals; petals are broadly ovate, deeply notched at the apex, narrowed near the base.  The fruits are small, disc-shaped combined achenes, wrapped in a cup, pubescent with short hairs, up to 7-10 mm in diameter. Seeds are dark brown, smooth, reniform, 2-2.5 mm long. The plant blooms in summer from June to August, the fruits ripen from July.

In medicine, in industrial pharmacy, marshmallow roots (Althaeae radices) are most widely used as medicinal raw materials.

Althea roots are harvested at the beginning of the growing season before the growth of the aerial part (March - May), and also in the fall, when the stems begin to dry out. The dug roots are cleaned of soil and washed in cold water, dried a little in the sun and cut into pieces up to 30 cm, and thick roots are cut lengthwise into 2-3 parts; to obtain peeled roots, the gray surface layer is peeled off before drying. After the roots are dried in the shade, laying out in a thin layer, on nets, stretched panels, in the open air in attics and in well-ventilated areas. In dryers, raw materials are dried at a temperature not exceeding 40 ° C.

To obtain medicinal raw materials, another type of marshmallow is used - Armenian marshmallow (lat. Althaea armeniaca Ten.).

Marshmallow belongs to plants containing mucus, therefore, in the phytochemical aspect, the polysaccharides of marshmallow roots are the most well studied. It has been found that marshmallow roots contain 30 to 35% mucus. In 1912, monosaccharides, D-glucose and D-L-xylose, were identified in the mucus of the plant, and in 1946, uronic acids, methylpentoses, and hexoses were found. Dry mucus contains from 19.52 to 21.68% of reducing polysaccharides in terms of glucose. In addition to mucus, marshmallow roots contain from 5 to 11% of the linear polysaccharide triticin and up to 78% of inverted sugars, tannins (from 4.11 to 7.96%), essential amino acids, in particular asparagine (from 0.8 to 2%) and betaine (up to 4%); starch (37%), pectin (11-20%), fat (2%), organic acids, carotene.


Althea officinalis has an expectorant, enveloping, anti-inflammatory and mild analgesic effect, which is due to the high content of heterogeneous mucus. Althea root in the modern pharmacological nomenclature belongs to the group of antitussives. Mucous decoction of marshmallow root, flowing down the back wall of the pharynx, wets the vocal cords, penetrates into the trachea, softening the dense coating, protects the nerve endings of the mucous membranes of the pharynx and trachea from irritants and accelerates the healing of the affected areas of the mucous membrane. In addition, due to its colloidal properties, mucus facilitates expectoration.

When used together with other more active anti-inflammatory drugs, marshmallow root mucus has the ability to slow down their evacuation, which contributes to a longer and more complete effect of other medicines on the affected areas.

An aqueous extract of marshmallow root, taken orally, also has an enveloping effect on the gastric mucosa. The effectiveness of the enveloping action increases with increased acidity of gastric juice, since when interacting with hydrochloric acid, the viscosity of mucus increases. Plant mucus from the marshmallow root and colloidal aqueous solutions envelop the mucous membranes of the organs with a thin layer for a long time, protecting them from further irritation by harmful factors, in particular cold or dry air, chemical irritants, preventing them from drying out and creating favorable conditions for healing. Mucus is able to adsorb and inactivate toxins from bacteria and viruses, toxic products that damage epithelial cells, and prevents contact of toxins with the mucous membrane. As a result of the action of mucus, spontaneous regeneration of damaged tissues decreases, and the intensity of the inflammatory process decreases.

For medical purposes, infusions, decoctions, dry and liquid extracts of the root, marshmallow syrup are used.

In folk medicine, water infusion of marshmallow roots as an adjuvant is used for inflammation of the mucous membrane of the respiratory organs with a large separation of mucus: for whooping cough, pneumonia, bronchitis, cough. The infusion is used for inflammation of the bladder, painful and involuntary urination, inflammation of the intestines, for simple diarrhea, dysentery, dyspeptic diarrhea in children, kidney disease, and especially for stomach and duodenal ulcers.


Medicinal altea also has its side effects. It should be understood that the medicinal altea root has strong covering properties, which will directly reduce the ability of other medicinal products to be absorbed by the body, accordingly, the effectiveness of these products will decrease.


The young leaves of the plant are mainly used in food, but they are usually boiled or stewed. The leaves of the plant are hairy, so eating them fresh is not very pleasant. However, it is possible to use altea roots in food, mainly due to the mucilage content, the plant was used to thicken cysts.


The use of medicinal altea for cosmetic purposes is based on its composition of mucilaginous substances, tannins, phytosterols and pectin substances.

Mucilage: alteya rhizome contains 30-35% mucilage. They have a covering effect, which has a beneficial effect on tissue regeneration, relieves inflammation and treats irritation. Mucilage is also useful for hair. They moisturize the scalp and the hair itself.

Phytosterols: These complex compounds are found in plant fibers and make up their structure. Knowing the nature of phytosterols, they are often called plant hormones, which are similar in their action to human hormones.

Phytosterols act as a building material for skin cells: they activate the production of collagen in the cells, which ensures the normal condition of the skin, maintaining its elasticity and firmness. Plant sterols promote epithelial regeneration, relieve irritation and soften rough skin areas.

Phytosterols are useful for hair as root-strengthening and growth-stimulating agents. In addition, it reduces hair loss and treats seborrhea.

Tannins: they work in complexes with mucilages. These herbal compounds affect the structure of the skin, smoothing it, increasing its elasticity, and also makes the skin soft and durable. Thanks to the properties of tanning substances, they also create a safe protective layer on the skin.

Thanks to its tannins, altea root is useful for oily hair: it regulates the activity of the glands, prevents irritation accompanied by itching and normalizes the condition of the skin.

Pectin substances: similar to phytosterols, pectin substances promote cell regeneration, strengthen the protective function of the skin, strengthen the skin. This group of substances is useful for problematic skin to get rid of inflammation, soothe it and gently cleanse it.

Pectin substances are also useful for hair, making it shiny and iridescent.

In addition to the listed substances, alteya root also contains such substances as lecithin, carotene, essential oils and amino acids. There are also important minerals: calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, etc.

Face, neck and hand health

Medicinal altea works gently. It is suitable for different skin types (normal, dry, oily) and is used to prevent various skin problems.

Althea is the most popular remedy for moisturizing dry face and neck skin. In this case, lotions and compresses are used.

Compresses are suitable for treating very dry skin that has already begun to peel. For this purpose prepare the setting: 2 tbsp. sprinkle chopped roots with 300ml of water (boiled and cooled), leave to stand for at least 1 hour. Make openings for the eyes and mouth in a gauze napkin and soak in the solution, which has previously been filtered from the coarse parts. The gauze napkin is placed on the face and neck for 20-30 minutes.

The lotion is prepared as follows - 1 tbsp. sprinkle the chopped roots with 200ml of hot water and leave for at least 2 hours. Separate the thicknesses and fill in a container. This lotion can be used several times a day to treat the skin of the face and neck using cotton swabs.

Althea root is a natural remedy for pimples and acne. In such cases, applications are made. For 1 tbsp. chopped roots pour one glass of boiled and cooled water. Hold for 2h and separate the layers. Such a position will prevent inflammation and redness, and will also reduce the activity of the glands if the skin is oily.

It is important to use altea root also for people with normal skin type, which will help maintain skin health. One of the easiest ways is to make ice from the solution and use it instead of washing your face in the morning. Prepare the following setting as follows: 1 tsp. chopped roots are poured with a glass of boiled-cooled water and allowed to stand for 30 minutes. We separate the thicknesses, wait for complete cooling and pour into molds, which we then freeze.

A cold infusion of altea helps prevent skin separation and dryness between the toes, reduces sweating of the feet. Men can also use it after shaving to reduce skin irritation.

Medicinal altea root will also help in solving more complex problems:

  • Burns;
  • Eczema;
  • Purulent wounds;
  • Fungal diseases;
  • Dermatitis.
  • Hair health

In hair care, altea root is most often used as a hair growth stimulator. This is thanks to the phytosterols in the plant, which awaken the follicles.

To promote hair growth, the altea extract is rubbed into the hair. For preparation you will need 3 tbsp. crushed altea roots, pour them with 100-150ml of boiled-cooled water. Leave for at least 1 hour. The obtained setting is gently massaged into the scalp. Before that, it is recommended to wash your hair and dry it a little.

It is also possible to keep chopped rhizomes in your favorite oil for 10-14 days. And massage the obtained extract into the scalp 1 hour before washing your hair.

Due to the fact that altea root contains mucilage, it is often compared to linseed, which is often used in case of hair loss. If you use altea root after washing your hair, for rinsing, then you will get the effect of a conditioner.

In addition, altea root will make hair easy to comb, moisturize the scalp, and protect from environmental influences.

Medicinal altea root rarely causes an allergic reaction, but there are cases when hives or itching may appear. In such cases, altea preparations.