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The marshmallow plant can be found growing in damp, wet areas including meadows and marshes. While native to regions of Europe, the marshmallow plant now grows in the United States as well. The root and leaves of the plant are used medicinally. For many years marshmallow plants have been used to relieve coughs and sore throats, as well as for chapped skin and minor wounds. Both the root and the leaf of the marshmallow plant contain a substance known as mucilate, a mucusy substance that does not dissolve in water. It is this substance that causes marshmallow to swell up and become slippery when wet. This attribute of the marshmallow plant gives it the ability to soothe irritation of the mouth, throat and stomach, as well as to relieve coughing. Marshmallow is also believed to have a limited ability to fight infection and boost the immune system.
The dried root of marshmallow has been used traditionally to treat cough and sore throat. It produces a sweet, soothing smoke that can be added to blends. Marshmallow root is also useful for bronchitis and other inflammation, in tea as a digestive aid, and as a weight loss aid that blocks feelings of hunger.