scientific name: Malvestrum sylvestris other common names: Malva, malva grande, malva real
growing areas: Native to much of South and Central America
physical description: It is a bush herb that grows to a height of 3 feet and generally is found at low elevations. Its stem has been described as stiff with hair, and its leaves have sharp teeth on the edges. Its flowers are reddish purple, and its flat fruit produces seeds that are shaped like kidney beans.
The mucilage contained in the leaves of this species is believed to be the reason why the herb has soothing, emollient qualities.
traditional uses: Mallow has been eaten and used medicinally for thousands of years. In Costa Rica it is thought to stimulate lactation. It is also fiold as an emollient and for use as an enema. According to Fetrow and Avila, mallow is used for irritations of the throat, bronchitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, and hoarseness. It has also been used in Central America and the Caribbean to treat sores and wounds, as well as as an astringent.
availability and dosage: It is available as a dried leaf or flower. Fetrow and Avila report that the suggested dose is 5 grams daily of chopped, dried herb; an infusion may also be used.
contraindications: Fetrow and Avila recommend it not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
medical research: None noted.