Although native to areas of Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, mallow can now be found growing wild throughout world. Its ability to take root in even the poorest of soil has made cultivation of this hardy plant a simple task. Mallow's hardiness is also the reason it can be seen growing in the wild, beautifying cliff sides, roadsides, and hillsides around the world. When left unchecked, mallow often resembles a shrub, climbing fences and taking on a hedge like appearance. The fact that mallow is a perennial makes it valuable to gardeners for its beauty and continuity, but for those interested in natural healing mallow supplies additional benefits as well.
Part of the Melvaceae family, common mallow is also known as wild or high mallow. Mallow is also sometimes called the "cheese-plant" due to its slightly cheesy aroma. Often reaching five feet at maturity, the mallow plant makes a beautiful addition to any garden or flower bed and adds color to the landscape. The stem of the common mallow is thick and hairy, a perfect base for its delicate blooms which range in color from light pink to shades of pink-purple; the veins of the flower are darker in color adding the stunning contrast an artist strives for when working on canvas. Although in this case the artist is God, and his canvas the world...............
Historical Uses of Common Mallow
Ancient Greek and Roman physicians used mallow medicinally to treat both internal and external disorders. They called the herb omnimorbium, "the remedy of all illnesses." Roman scholar Pliny went as far as to recommend a small daily dose of mallow juice to prevent illness, and ancient Persian literature also mentions the herbs use for medicinal purposes. The Chinese have used mallow leaves in tea infusions for thousands of years as a treatment for digestive disorders, as an expectorant, and as a gargle for sore throats.
Benefits of Common Mallow
Common mallow's healing properties are derived from the mucilage and flavonol glyocides contained within its leaves and flowers. Mallow leaves were used by Arabs as a poultice intended to suppress inflammation. Today, they continue to be utilized for their soothing qualities in everything from emollients to throat lozenges. Mallow flowers, boiled in oil and water make an excellent gargle for scratchy throats. After boiling, you need only to add honey to taste. Marshmallow water is an excellent remedy for coughs or bronchitis. One popular recipe from Francatelli's Cook's Guide reads as follows:
'Soak one ounce of marsh mallow roots in a little cold water for half an hour; peel off the bark, or skin; cut up the roots into small shavings, and put them into a jug to stand for a couple of hours; the decoction must be drunk tepid, and may be sweetened with honey or sugar-candy, and flavoured with orange-flower water, or with orange juice. Marshmallow water may be used with good effect in all cases of inveterate coughs, catarrhs, etc.'
Unfortunately, I don't see many of us using this method. I prefer to keep things simple, thus, making an infusion of mallow tea is more easily achieved by purchasing leaves at the health food store; two to fours teaspoons of dried leaves should be boiled in a cup of water for approximately fifteen minutes, strain, and sweeten. It's that easy. Note, pregnant or nursing mothers should always consult their doctors before trying anything new. For the rest of us, it is recommended to limit ourselves to no more than three cups in a day.
Sources:The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers
AB.Francatelli's Cook's Guide