Ask pretty much any wellness experts, and they’ll tell you that drinking lots of water is one of the best ways to combat the dehydrating effects of riding in airplanes. But what if there was a genius travel hack that could help you get more out of every ounce of H20 you consume so you didn’t have to spend your entire time in-flight either chugging from your reusable water bottle or waiting in line for the bathroom? Luckily, one little root can turn even the smallest amount of regular H2O into wildly hydrating, jet-lag-fighting, super liquid—and it comes from the marshmallow plant.
Marshmallow root is demulcent, which means that it’s high in anti-inflammatory mucilage, a gelatenous substance produced by all plants in varying degrees that helps them store H2O. (Mucilage-rich plants have been used to fight inflammation for over 4,000 years, FYI.) And its ability to hold on to water carries over in your system. That means the water literally sticks to your insides, which has a moistening and soothing effect on you internally.
The thick, viscous quality of marshmallow root water is beneficial not only to your hydration, but also your digestive system, including your stomach and intestinal lining, your respiratory system, your urinary tract—even your skin. Few scientists have studied the health benefits of marshmallow root, meaning the bulk of what’s known about its healing properties is what’s been pass down in perpetuity—ancient cultures from Egypt to Rome and China have used it medicinally for 2,000 years.
Marshmallow root water is beneficial not only to your hydration, but also your digestive system, including your stomach and intestinal lining, your respiratory system, your urinary tract—even your skin.
All it requires is remembering to put a healthful pinch (approximately 1 Tbsp) of the dried plant in the bottom of your water bottle before you leave to catch your flight. If you’re already in the habit of bringing your empty water bottle to the airport, this small step can make a big difference in how you feel when you exit on the other side. Marshmallow root’s demulcent qualities are activated in cold water, which makes it the perfect thing for airport drinking fountains. Once cold water is added to the root, the mucilage is released. The longer the root sits in the water, the more slippery the water becomes; it’ll even change the color of the liquid. Best of all, you reap the root’s major healthy benefits without paying a premium: An ounce of marshmallow root from Mountain Rose Herbs is just $3.
In an ideal world, you would let this sit for 4 hours to overnight; at home, you can do just this. In the morning you’ll awake to a slimy—but highly effective!— hydrating liquid. For the purpose of air travel, it’s enough to let the root sit for 15 minutes and to just add water to the root for the remainder of your flight. You get the benefit of an earthier-tasting water and the moisture-boosting, soothing benefits of marshmallow root.