Marshmallow isn’t just about roasting s’mores over a campfire. It’s a herbal medicine that has been used for thousands of years … going back as far as ancient Egyptian times.
Marshmallow root is safe for dogs, and a natural way to help heal any digestive issues your dog might be experiencing. It comes from the Althaea officinalis plant that grows in marshy areas … hence “marsh mallow.” And marshmallow root brings many health benefits for your dog.
Of course, the first thing the word marshmallow makes you think of is those sweet, sticky white treats (which these days are made of sugar, corn syrup and gelatin). But natural marshmallow root was once used to make a sweet treat reminiscent of today’s marshmallows. That’s because marshmallow root can contain up to 35% of a thick gelatinous substance called mucilage. And that mucilage is also what makes it such a powerful herb to soothe and protect irritated and inflamed tissue.
Marshmallow Root Benefits For Dogs
Here are 12 reasons to give your dog marshmallow root. The plant’s leaves, flowers and seeds also have therapeutic qualities.
1. Marshmallow Root Is Versatile
Marshmallow root has many different actions …
- Diuretic – removes water from the body
- Antimicrobial – stops growth of viruses, bacteria and fungi
- Anti-inflammatory – lowers itchiness, redness and swelling from inflammation
- Expectorant – helps expel mucus from the respiratory tract
- Hypoglycemic – lowers blood sugar
- Immunostimulant – boosts the immune system’s ability to fight disease
2. Marshmallow Root Can Help Heal Leaky Gut
Your dog’s gut lining forms a barrier that stops harmful bacteria, toxins and other unwanted substances from getting into his blood stream. Tight junctions let nutrients in but keep pathogens out. But sometimes, the layer of epithelial cells gets damaged, causing the space between the cells to expand. This allows undigested food particles and other toxins to travel through your dog’s blood stream.
This is called leaky gut, and it can evolve into a whole slew of health issues. It leads to chronic inflammation throughout the body. And inflammation is the source of many chronic diseases, such as allergies, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Marshmallow root is an important herb that can soothe and reduce the inflammation and heal your dog’s leaky gut.
3. Marshmallow Root Eases Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs (IBD)
IBD is an autoimmune disorder where your dog’s immune cells attack his digestive tract, leading to chronic inflammation. This inflammation makes it harder for your dog to absorb nutrients from his food.
Some symptoms of IBD in dogs include:
- Mucus or blood in the stool
- Chronic flatulence
- Unexplained weight loss
- Irregular or painful bowel movements
- Gastric distention
To give your dog marshmallow root for IBD, herbalists Greg Tilford and Mary Wulff recommend mixing …
- 1 part marshmallow root
- 1 part licorice root
- 2 parts slippery elm or plantain
- 1 part fennel seed
For any size dog, give this mixture twice a day as a tea, tincture or dried herbs, dosing 1 tbs. of dried herbs or 1 ml of a low alcohol tincture combination or 2 tbsp of a strong tea.
It shouldn’t take long for this mixture to help ease the symptoms of IBD and help promote healing in your dog’s gut.
4. Marshmallow Root Can Help With Constipation
If your dog is having difficult with bowel movements, his infrequent stools are going to be dry and hard. It’s pretty easy to call this one – constipation.
These are some things that can make your dog constipated:
- Change in diet
- Not enough exercise
- Too much bone in a raw diet
- Too much or too little fiber in his diet
- Age (older dogs can get constipated)
Note: Bowel obstruction can also be a reason for constipation. This can be a true emergency requiring surgery, so if you suspect it, get your dog to the vet right away.
If the constipation isn’t chronic, marshmallow root can help soothe and lubricate the digestive tract and relax muscles.
5. Marshmallow Root Can Help With Diarrhea In Dogs
Getting the runs isn’t fun, but, at one point or another, all dogs get diarrhea. It can be caused by things like …:
Again, inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract is the enemy. Marshmallow root can soothe both, and give the intestinal tract time to heal. Give 1/2 to 1.5 ml per 20 pounds body weight, twice daily.
6. Marshmallow Root Can Help With Nausea And Vomiting
Sometimes your dog may throw up once and that’s it. And then you don’t need to do anything because he got rid of whatever was bothering him. Other times, he might be vomiting continually. If you see repeated vomiting like this, then marshmallow root can come to the rescue!
Marshmallow root can lower the inflammation that’s upsetting your dog’s digestion. To keep him dehydrated, make sure your dog has access to water.
Then, try giving him this recipe:
- Take equal parts chamomile, marshmallow root and dandelion tinctures
- Dissolve them in a small amount of warm filtered water
- Each day, give your dog 3 drops of the mixture by mouth per 5 lbs. of bodyweight 2-3 times a day
In no time, the inflammation should go down and his nausea and vomiting will subside.
7. Marshmallow Root Can Help Transition To A Raw Diet
A whole food, raw meat based diet is the best food to give your dog a solid foundation of good health. If you’re switching your dog from kibble to raw, you might encounter some hiccups.
Lots of dogs transition easily. But depending on your dog’s age, health, and how long he’s been on kibble, he might experience some digestive upset.
But, if you’ve read so far, you know marshmallow root is great for just about any kind of gut issue. Use either of the marshmallow root recipes above to help regulate your dog’s digestive system!
8. Marshmallow Root Can Relieve Heartburn
Heartburn and acid reflux are uncomfortable for your dog. Just like another favorite, slippery elm, marshmallow root can help protect your dog’s esophagus from stomach acid.
Dissolve 1 tsp marshmallow root powder in a cup of warm water to form a gel. Add to your dog’s food or mix into some homemade bone broth. Give up to ¼ cup per 20 lbs body weight per day (split into different doses if needed).
9. Marshmallow Root Can Help With Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections can be extremely painful for your dog, so you want to help him out quickly. Marshmallow root soothes irritation and inflammation in the urinary tract. It also helps protect the lining of the urinary tract from bacteria.
Marshmallow root will also increase the acidity of his urine, helping stop bacterial growth. And its diuretic effects help flush out excess fluids.
Sprinkle marshmallow root powder on your dog’s food, giving ½ tsp per pound of food.
10. Marshmallow Root Can Ease Respiratory Problems
Marshmallow root is amazing for easing respiratory problems in dogs. It has antitussive and analgesic properties that help prevent coughing and relieve pain. It soothes the respiratory tract and reduces inflammation because of its mucilage. It’s antimicrobial, and can help loosen mucus.
If your dog has a dry, raspy cough, bronchitis, angina, a sore throat, kennel cough or asthma, marshmallow root can also help him! It can even prevent respiratory infections when combined with other healing herbs.
11. Marshmallow Root Can Heal Skin Problems
By now you know that marshmallow root is a great tool to reduce inflammation, kill bacteria and soothe the gut. But it’s also been shown to improve wound healing better than antibiotics, and help soothe eczema and skin damage from sun exposure.
Marshmallow root is great for cuts, boils, skin ulcers, burns, insect bites and abscesses.
For skin problems you can use marshmallow root topically. See below for how to do this.
RELATED: DIY recipes for skin healing …
12. Marshmallow Root Can Ease Joint Problems
It’s distressing to see your dog suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis and joint pain as he ages.
Conventional treatment for joint pain is usually non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDS. However, they can have negative side effects such as vomiting, bloody stools, loss of appetite, lethargy, and … this one’s a kicker … ironically, they can speed up osteoarthritis and cause cartilage to break down.
But, there’s an alternative. Never fear, marshmallow root is here! It’s anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and can help reduce swelling and discomfort.
Marshmallow Root Mixes Well With Other Herbs
If the 12 benefits of marshmallow root haven’t convinced you yet, here are some herbs you can combine with marshmallow root to benefit your dog.
- Urinary tract: couch grass, horsetail, uva ursi, corn silk, echinacea, ginko, other diuretic herbs
- Respiratory tract: mullein, coltsfoot, elecampane, grindelia
- Digestive tract: licorice, chamomile, calendula, cleavers, fennel, dill, mint
- Skin conditions: calendula, mullein, garlic, comfrey, aloe vera, plantain, chamomile
How To Find Marshmallow Root For Dogs
Marshmallow root is easy to find. You can order it online or find it at your local health store. Marshmallow root is sold as a supplement with other herbs, or on its own as a tincture, tea, dry herb or powder.
It’s also easy to grow yourself. It’s a perennial that comes back every year. It likes marshy areas so plant it in rich, moist soil with partial sun.
To harvest the root, cut the stocks at ground level. If you loosen the soil with a trowel you should then be able to pull the root out of the ground. If you’re not using it right away you can dehydrate it for future use. Wash and grate the root, then use a dehydrator (or warm oven at 130F or less) to dry it out until brittle. Let it cool then store in a glass jar with a lid.
Cautions With Marshmallow Root For Dogs
There are so many benefits to marshmallow root, but there are one or two things to be careful about.
Avoid marshmallow root for dogs with diabetes because it lowers blood sugar. Don’t give it without checking first with your vet about adjusting your dog’s medication levels.
Marshmallow root can interfere with the absorption of some drugs. If your dog is on any medications, check with your vet before giving marshmallow root.
To make your own marshmallow root tea, add 1 tsp dried marshmallow root, or 2 tsp fresh marshmallow root to 1 cup of hot water. Once the water has cooled, check to make sure the tea feels slippery. That gooey feeling comes from the mucilage. If it isn’t slippery feeling, add more marshmallow root to the tea.
Start by giving your dog 1 tsp of tea at a time for digestive issues. You can add it to food or some homemade bone broth,.
If you use a tincture, buy one with 20% or less alcohol because the mucilage isn’t well absorbed in alcohol. Glycerin tinctures are best for marshmallow root. Give glycerin tincture directly in the mouth, using about ¼ tsp per 20 lbs, two to three times a day.
Topical Marshmallow Root For Dogs
For topical use, test it on a small patch first and wait a few hours to make sure your dog doesn’t have any irritation.
You can use the tea mixture as a salve. It should have a gel-like texture. You can also mix it with MCT oil.
If you have fresh leaves, you can use them as a salve by mulching the leaves and placing them on the wound.
Dried Herb Or Root Powder
Mix dried or powdered herb and hot water to make a paste. Let it cool until warm to the touch and apply it to the affected area.
As you’ve seen, marshmallow root is an extremely versatile plant that can help your dog with a wide range of health problems. Give it a try next time your dog has one of these issues.
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