If you experience occasional heartburn, belching or the taste of regurgitated food and stomach acid at back of your throat after eating, you may have acid reflux. This digestive disorder is the result of stomach contents flowing backward into the esophagus, and the medical term for the condition is “gastroesophageal reflux.” Marshmallow root may help ease the discomfort of acid reflux, but it can’t replace professional medical advice. Consult your doctor if you suffer from two or more episodes of acid reflux in one week.
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Marshmallow Root Properties
Marshmallow root, or Althaea officinalis, contains mucilage, which produces a soothing film on the lining of mucous membranes. The sweet tasting root also contains pectin, sugar, cellulose and a number of nutrients, including vitamin B-complex, calcium, iron and zinc, according to the “Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.”
Potential Benefits for Acid Reflux
Mucilage, when it encounters fluids, develops a spongy gel-type consistency. Mucilage coats the lining of the esophagus, which may reduce the burning sensation associated with acid reflux. Tea or an infusion prepared from marshmallow root may also counter stomach acidity to ease digestion and sooth stomach ulcers. Clinical studies confirming these benefits are lacking, however.
Method and Dosage
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests preparing an adult dose of marshmallow root tea by combining up to 5 tsp. of dried herb in 5 oz. of hot water and letting the mixture soak for an hour before straining. You may consume up to three doses per day. Leaves of the marshmallow plant may also be made into a tea, although the leaves contain less mucilage than does the root of the plant. Consult your doctor for dosage alterations before giving marshmallow preparations to a child.
Marshmallow produces no known side effects, according to the "Gale Encyclopedia," but that may be due, in part, to a lack of research on the side effects of the herb. Since it does coat the stomach, the herb may possibly interfere with the absorption of nutrients or other medications you’re taking. Your doctor is the best source of advice for treating acid reflux.
- “Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, Volume 2”; Jacqueline L. Longe; 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Marshmallow