Social Media Rage: Marshmallows for Sore Throats?
Do marshmallows for sore throats really work?
What is a sore throat?
Sore throats (acute pharyngitis) is the symptoms of painful to swallow, scratchiness, discomfort, and generalize pain.
What is a marshmallow?
Marshmallow (althea officinalis) is a herb that has been used in food and medicine for 2,000 years by Chinese, Egyptians, Romans, and Syrians. Arabs used the herb to make poultices and reduce the inflammation in skin. Althea officinalis roots and leaves create a gummy substance called mucilage. Adding water and mixing mucilage together forms a gel that reduces irritation to the entire GI track from the throat to the stomach. Exterior use to the body, the mixture will resolve pain from chapped skin.
How do you make a modern marshmallow?
Marshmallow recipes vary in content and ingredients. Marshmallows use to contain herb althea officinalis (mucilage mixture) but modern mixtures replaced the herb with unflavored gelatin. Gelatin is a protein based, partial hydrolysis of collagen extract from collective tissue, bones, and skin of animals, with the main source beef bones. Gelatin is a topical haemostatic. This means it stops bleeding by sealing injured blood vessels and acting as vasoconstriction agent. What do both gelatin and marshmallow have in common? Both althea officinalis and gelatin contains polysaccharides. Polysaccharides swell in water and produce antitussive-mucous releasing action. It is the polysaccharides in althea officinalis and gelatin that stop coughing and sooth the throat.
Evidence-based research was the concern if this was a myth or really worked. The treatment of question was a person with a sore throat was to ingest several modern marshmallows to relieve a sore throat. But where do you get a sore throat to test the experiment?
The next morning my subject appeared. My husband indeed had acute pharyngitis aka sore throat. He agreed to try eating marshmallows to see if it indeed works. After searching for the bag of marshmallows, I found a bag of mini-marshmallows. Note the mini-marshmallows ingredients did not have althea officinalis but the modern ingredient gelatin.
Now the social media claims were to use big marshmallows but you work with what you have. As the experiment progressed I posted results to my social media group of Nurse Practitioners, who also were interested in the results. Over 44 confirmed Nurse Practitioners observed the experiment’s progress from the social media live-time platform, Facebook.
8:20 Subject begins ingestion of one mini-marshmallow. No change. Continue to eat mini-marshmallows 1-3 at a time.
8:25 Subject states pain is actually subsiding in throat. Swallowing still painful. Continue eating mini-marshmallows. Chewing and allowing marshmallows to dissolve in mouth. Approximately ten mini-marshmallows have been consumed.
8:30 So about ten minutes of eating mini marshmallows and waiting, the Subject states that the pain has been deaden. Subject says it is uncomfortable but more tolerable now. Subject says it is similar to the spray chloraseptic.
8:50 Okay we are 30 minutes in. Subject has voice quality back. No throat pain in general, only pain with swallowing now.
The experiment lasted 51 minutes.
Conclusions of evidence-based field experiment. It takes more than several mini-marshmallows to be effective. Time of relief begins between 5-10 minutes, with overall pain relief complete in 30 minutes. The relief is not permanent but lasted approximately two hours before symptoms were noted again.
More evidence-based research is needed on this alternative health commodity. A recommendation would be to culture the throat before and after to see any notable differences, research with althea officinalis verses gelatin, and if ingestion of seasonal sugar coated marshmallow treats reduces acute pharyngitis in the spring sinus season.
Cautions with ingestion gelatin marshmallows:
Dietary restrictions with consuming gelatin for religious or cultural rules include Jewish kosher, Islamic Halal, Romani, Vegans, Vegetarians, Hindu, and Jain.
Observation in small children to prevent choking or obstruction of airway.
Thank you to Jeffrey Goins PhD and UNP for their involvement with the field experiment.
Reference links for more information:
European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngologyand Head & Neck (2011).
University of Maryland Medical Center (2003).
Mission Statement: "Couturing individual patient's/client's