Marsh Mallow, Althaea officinalis, is a member of the mallow family that grows in marshes, hence the name. The genus name Althea is from the Greek word "altho" and means, "to heal or cure." This root is an emollient and demulcent. Demulcent herbs have a high content of mucilage which are large carbohydrate (sugar) molecules. When this mucilage comes in contact with water, it swells and forms a smooth, slippery gel used to relieve skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.
For centuries herbalists have rubbed marsh mallow roots on insect bites, burns, and rashes. Marsh mallow's mucilage content helps soothe, moisturized, and protect dry, irritated, or inflamed skin and scalp.
Years ago, children were given a piece of marsh mallow root to chew on when they were teething. Early candy marshmallows were made from marsh mallow root. The root was boiled with water and sugar to create sweet, spongy sticks.
Back then people were actually getting health benefits from eating marshmallows since the mucilage helps strengthen the mucous membranes. I wonder how s'mores would taste using that early confection? Although they have kept the name, marshmallow treats roasted over campfires no longer contain any part of the plant.
In hair care, marshmallow root soothes the scalp, often providing relief from scalp irritation. It also detangles, conditions, and provides a great natural moisturizer for dry hair. The natural mucilage in marshmallow root binds with hair proteins to make hair strands appear thicker which adds volume.