Marshmallow is a perennial flowering plant originally native to Europe, where it is typically found along stream banks, salt marshes and other damp places. Also known as Mortification Koot and Schloss Tea, marshmallow leaf has a long history of use as a culinary herb and the root of the plant is the original source of the confection of the same name. Because the entire plant and especially the root contains a high degree of mucilage, the herb is often used to make syrup and throat lozenges. Marshmallow is also commonly used in teas and to produce lotions, creams and ointments.
Marshmallow is a member of the mallow family, which includes cotton and okra. The long, thin roots have been used for food during times of scarcity for centuries. Marshmallow root is not only nutritious but also contains a high concentration of mucilage.
Although the powdered root is sometimes encapsulated, it is most often used to make a mouthwash for sore gums or infused oils and salves for minor skin irritations. Marshmallow root is also used to make natural shampoos and conditioners for dry or damaged hair.