Scientific Name/Common Name: Malva sylvestris / High Mallow
Part(s) Used: Flower and leaf
Constituents/Active Ingredients: 8-10% mucilage, which on hydrolysis produces arabinose, glucose, rhamnose, galactose, and galacturonic acid. The leaves also contain a small amount of tannins and flavonoids. Also noted are several 8-hydroxyflavonoid glucuronides; gossypetin 3-glucoside 8-glucuronide, and hypolaetin 8-glucuronide. The polysaccharides include pentoses, methyl-pentoses, and hexoses that form a soothing gelatinous fiber or mucilage. The blossoms also contain high concentrations of antioxidants including flavonoids and small amounts of tannin. Less than 0.1% leucoanthocyanins, 7% (based on dry wt.) anthocyanins, about half of which is malvidin 3,5-diglucoside (malvin); delphinidin and malvidin 3-glucosides are also present.
Overview: High mallow, otherwise known as blue mallow, is rich in mucilage, a complex mixture of polysaccharides that form a soothing gelatinous fiber when water is added. The leaf tea is considered an emollient, expectorant, and laxative and was traditionally used internally for soothing sore throats, laryngitis, and tonsillitis, coughs, dryness of the lungs, and digestive upsets. The German Pharmacopoeia recommends high mallow tea for treating irritation of inflamed mucous membranes in the mouth and throat and in the gastrointestinal tract. They also recommend the tea for alleviating catarrh (mucous) of the upper respiratory tract. Studies on irritated mucus membranes have shown that the mucilage of Malva sylvestris binds to buccal membranes and other mucous membranes of the body. Mucilage, as a good source of soluble fiber, is particularly recommended for soothing gastrointestinal issues. The viscous fiber has several beneficial effects on digestion: 1) it reduces bowel transit time (i.e. it acts as a mild laxative); 2) it absorbs toxins from the bowel; 3) it increases fecal bulk and dilutes stool materials thereby reducing stool contact with the intestinal mucosa; and 4) it enhances beneficial bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract and provides an excellent substrate for bacterial fermentation.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: To soothe respiratory and digestive systems; for cough, sore throat, indigestion, constipation, and stomach ulcer.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 104; 119; 181; 187; 169-170; 372; 479; 491. Rodale Press.
Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Malvae folium – Mallow leaf. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 315-316.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.