When you think about marshmallows, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the fluffy treat. And that wouldn’t be a bad place to start. I.t’s believed Egyptians made the first marshmallows from the marshmallow plant. And it’s the plant you’ll read about here.
Healers have used the marshmallow plant as medicine for thousands of years. It’s also one of the safest and most versatile herbs for dogs, both internally and topically.
11 Ways Marshmallow Root Can Help Your Dog
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an incredibly versatile herb. It grows in Europes, west Asia, Africa and North America. It’s usually found in marshes or moist meadows and is easy to grow at home.
Marshmallow is a demulcent that’s rich in mucilage. Mucilage is a gel-like substance that soothes and protects irritated and inflamed tissue. In fact, marshmallow root can contain up to 35% mucilage. And it isn’t just the root that’s used for herbal remedies. The leaves are also therapeutic.
Marshmallow root is also a …
- Diuretic – increases the flow of urine to help remove water and salt from the body
- Antimicrobial – destroys and inhibits the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces redness, swelling and itching associated with inflammation
- Expectorant – helps remove mucus from the respiratory tract
- Hypoglycemic – lowers blood sugar
- Immunostimulant – increases the immune system’s ability to fight disease
With that background, here’s how the marshmallow plant can help your dog.
1. Heal Leaky Gut
Your dog’s digestive tract breaks down food and absorbs nutrients. It also protects your dog from harmful bacteria, toxins and other substances.
A single layer of epithelial cells lines your dog’s gut. This barrier acts as a gateway to his bloodstream. Small spaces between the cells let important nutrients pass through into the bloodstream. They also keep undesirable substances like bacteria, toxins and undigested food out. But sometimes the spaces between the cells expand.
When this happens, the contents of your dog’s digestive tract leak into his bloodstream. These include bacteria, toxins and undigested food. This is leaky gut syndrome and it can cause a lot of trouble … starting with chronic inflammation … that leads to long term health problems like …
- Autoimmune disorders
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Marshmallow root can help repair leaky gut. It protects the gut lining and improves its integrity. That’s because the mucilage coats the irritated gut lining. This soothes and reduces inflammation. It also stimulates the cells that make up the gut lining to support tissue regeneration.
2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an autoimmune disorder. It happens when your dog’s immune cells attack his digestive tract. This leads to chronic inflammation that prevents your dog from absorbing nutrients.
It can also cause symptoms like …
- Painful bowel movements
- Irregular bowel movements
- Weight loss
- Gastric distention
Marshmallow root can reduce inflammation and soothe the gut in dogs with IBD. This helps ease symptoms and promote healing. It can also help protect from ulcers. If your dog has IBD, you can try marshmallow root alone or with other herbs.
Herbalists Greg Tilford and Mary Wulff recommend this mixture …
- 2 parts slippery elm or plantain
- 1 part marshmallow root
- 1 part licorice root
- 1 part fennel seed
Combine the above herbs as teas, tinctures or dried herbs. Give your dog (any size) the following dosages twice daily.
1 tbsp of dried herbs OR 1 ml of a low alcohol tincture combination OR 2 tbsp of a strong tea
Difficult bowel movements are a common digestive issue for dogs. If your dog has constipation, he’ll poop less often and strain when he does. If he does manage to go, his stools will be dry and hard.
There are many things that can constipate your dog, such as …
- The wrong amount of fiber in his diet
- Too much bone in a raw diet
- Not enough exercise
- Bowel obstruction
- Behavioral problems
- Change in diet
If your dog has a bout of constipation, marshmallow root can help. It will soothe the digestive tract and relax muscles that have had to work too hard. The mucilage can also lubricate the digestive tract so that it’s easier for your dog to poop.
Diarrhea is something that happens to all dogs at one point or another. There are many reasons your dog may get the runs.
- Dietary indiscretion
- Food poisoning
- Too much exercise
When your dog has diarrhea, his digestive tract becomes irritated. Marshmallow root can help ease these irritations and reduce inflammation. It can also help after a bout of diarrhea to soothe the intestinal tract so that it can heal.
5. Nausea And Vomiting
In most instances, your dog will throw up once and then be back to his usual self. Other times, vomiting will be continuous. This type of vomiting is usually a result of inflammation in the digestive tract.
When your dog is vomiting, it is important he has access to water so he doesn’t get dehydrated.
You can also use marshmallow root to ease the inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve discomfort and calm the stomach.
If your dog is nauseous or vomiting, try this combination of herbs …
- Combine equal parts chamomile, marshmallow root and dandelion tinctures.
- Dissolve them together in a small amount of warm water.
- Give 3 drops in the mouth for every 5 lbs of body weight. Do this 2-3 times per day.
6. Raw Transition
If you have decided to switch your dog from kibble to raw, that’s awesome! But his age, health and how long he has been on his current diet, may affect how smoothly he transitions. Sometimes, dogs will experience diarrhea or constipation. This is because their body has to detoxify and adjust. And that’s a good thing … it’s one major reason to make the switch.
Herbal remedies can be a great way to help your dog through the change. And marshmallow root is a great choice. It’ll help regulate the digestive system and protect it from irritation.
Marshmallow root will be especially effective for these effects of a diet change …
- Gas and bloating
Like slippery elm, marshmallow root can help protect the esophagus from stomach acid. This can help relieve the pain associated with heartburn and acid reflux.
8. Urinary Tract Infections
Marshmallow root is a common solution for urinary tract conditions. It can ease irritation and inflammation in the urinary tract, like it does in your dog’s digestive tract. And because of its diuretic properties, it can flush out excess fluids. This helps cleanse the kidney and bladder to reduce bacteria, toxin and mineral build up.
Marshmallow root also increases the acidity of urine. A 2015 study suggests this can prevent bacteria growth. Marshmallow’s anti-inflammatory properties can also be helpful for kidney disease or kidney stones.
9. Respiratory Problems
Research shows that marshmallow root has antitussive and analgesic properties. This means it can help prevent coughing and relieve pain. Marshmallow is also antimicrobial. And its mucilage soothes the respiratory tract and reduces inflammation. As an added bonus, this herb can help loosen mucus.
All these qualities make marshmallow root a good solution for dry, raspy coughs as well as …
- Sore throats
- Kennel cough
And when combined with other healing herbs, marshmallow can prevent respiratory infections.
10. Skin Problems
Marshmallow helps speed up the healing process. It reduces inflammation, kills bacteria and can be an effective pain reliever. One study showed that marshmallow leaf extract could even improve wound healing better than antibiotics. But the root can also be used. (I’ll provide instructions later on).
That makes it a great solution for …
- Insect bites
- Skin ulcers
Research also shows that it can be effective for eczema and skin damage from sun exposure.
11. Joint Problems
Inflammation plays a role in many chronic diseases including arthritis and joint pain. Conventional treatment for joint pain usually involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
But NSAIDs can have negative side effects:
- Bloody stools
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
Yes, you read that right. NSAIDs can cause the problem they’re supposed to solve … joint pain. Thiat’s because they can cause cartilage to break down, speeding up osteoarthritis.
Marshmallow root can be an effective natural alternative. This is because of its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. It can help reduce swelling and discomfort associated with joint problems.
Remedies That Work With Marshmallow Root
There are many herbs that you can combine with marshmallow root …
- Couch grass
- Uva ursi
- Corn silk
- Other diuretic herbs
- Aloe vera
How To Give Marshmallow Root
You can buy marshmallow root as a tincture, tea, dry herb or powder. You can find it online and at health food stores.
Because marshmallow lowers blood sugar, it’s not recommended for dogs with diabetes. More researchis needed to find out if it can help manage certain types of diabetes.
Marshmallow root can also interfere with the absorption of some drugs. If your dog takes any medication, speak with your holistic vet before you use this herb.
Marshmallow Root Internal Dosage
For problems deeper in the digestive tract, marshmallow root is the best choice. Marshmallow root is very water soluble. That means the mucilage may not make it to the lower digestive tract if you use tincture or tea. For health problems close to the rectum, a gel capsule or suppository may work better.
When you use tincture, look for a glycerin tincture or an alcohol tincture with less than 20% alcohol. Too much alcohol could cause nausea.
You can also find supplements that contain marshmallow root in combination with other helpful ingredients.
Glycerin tincture: 0.5 to 1.5 ml per 20 lbs, two to three times daily.
Tea: 1 tsp is a good dose to start at for dogs.
To make tea add 1 tsp dried herb or 2 tsp fresh root to 1 cup of water. Let cool, then rub the tea between your fingers. You should be able to feel the gooey texture of the mucilage. If you can’t, add more herbs.
Marshmallow root powder: ½ tsp of dried root per lb of food, sprinkled onto food once or twice daily.
Marshmallow Root Topical Usage
If you use marshmallow root topically, you should test it on a small patch first. If your dog doesn’t experience irritation or inflammation it should be safe to use.
Tea: You can use the tea mixture as a salve. It should have a gel like texture. You can also mix it with MCT oil.
Leaves: If you have access to fresh leaves, you can make them into a salve. Mulch the leaves and place on the wound.
Dried herb or root powder: Mix ground herb or powdered marshmallow root and hot water to make a paste. Let it cool until warm to the touch. Put it on the affected area and cover with soft cotton to make a poultice.
You can also put the powder or herb inside the soft cotton and tie off to make a sac. Soak it in warm water and dab it on the wound until it cools.
Grow Your Own Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow plants are easy to grow at home. And they’re a staple of many gardens. Marshmallow is a perennial, that comes back every year. The herb prefers partial sun but will grow in full sun and shade.
As its name suggests, marshmallow plants like marshy areas. You’ll want to plant them in moist rich soil and water them often … but avoid areas with standing water.
How To Harvest And Dry Marshmallow Roots
Unlike other herbs, you can’t tug on marshmallow plants to expose the root. Instead …
- Cut the stocks at ground level.
- Loosen the soil with a trowel to expose roots.
- Lift the plant out of the ground.
If you want to continue to grow marshmallow, use a knife or trowel to split the plant in two. Put one half back into the soil and push soil down around it.
To dry the roots for future use …
- Wash the roots.
- Grate or chop into small pieces.
- Use a dehydrator or warm oven to dry out the fresh root.
- Wait until they are dry and brittle. This means they’re done.
- Let sit until room temperature.
- Store in a glass jar with a secure, airtight lid.
Marshmallow Root For Dogs
Marshmallow root is a safe and versatile herb for dogs. It’s especially useful for digestive, respiratory or urinary tract problems. Marshmallow can …
- Relieve pain
- Heal wounds
- Reduce inflammation
- Kill bacteria
- Stimulate the immune system
- Cleanse the kidneys and bladder
So it’s a must-have for any dog first aid kit.