The wild mallow (Malva sylvestris), also known as the common mallow, is a beautiful lilac flower of great medicinal value. Mallow is best known for its capacity to reduce inflammation in the body and help treat common afflictions such as gastritis, sore throat, rashes, ulcerations and toothaches. It makes an outstanding antibacterial, astringent and anti-inflammatory and is thus useful for the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions.
Mallow flowers and leaves are an excellent cough soothing tea, while the roots make a good summer salad. What is mallow and where can one find it? Mallow is both a beautiful wild flower and a strong medicinal herb found throughout Western Europe, Asia, the US, Canada and Australia. Other names include wild mallow, common mallow, tall or high mallow (reaching 3 meters in height), blue mallow or country mallow.
What does mallow look like? Mallow is a tall field flower with deep green lobbed leaves and bright pink, purple or lilac wrinkly petals with darker-colored veins. When infusing dried flowers (and leaves), you will notice that your tea will turn an almost beautiful lavender-blue color. Mallow seeds or fruits are tiny, mucilaginous, brown capsules. The seeds (and stems) may or may not have small hairs. Mallow flowers, seeds and leaves are all used in traditional medicine to cure a variety of ailments.
1) Respiratory problems. Mallow is recognized as an efficient herbal remedy for colds and asthma. According to research, the leaves and flowers boast strong anti-inflammatory properties and thus efficiently reduce inflammation at the level of the throat. Moreover, mallow seeds contain mucilaginous substances which cover the inflamed tissue, forming a protective layer which allows the tissue to recover.
Mallow appears to be highly efficient in treating inflammations and irritations of the mouth as well, and provides relief in cases of dry cough, making a good natural antitussive. Rinsing your mouth or throat with a mallow gargle is said to help maintain calm throat irritation and maintain a healthy mouth and throat mucous lining.
2) Soothes gastritis pain and reduces inflammation at the level of the stomach and intestines. Apparently, the same mucilaginous substances that promote sore throat healing allow the stomach mucosa and intestinal walls to heal through the same mechanism.
If you are suffering from gastritis or stomach acid, it might help to drink one or two cups of mallow tea (with roots) a day. Mallow will not only calm irritation, but it will also reduce inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Studies suggest that the roots are particularly efficient at reducing inflammation.
3) Treats rashes, ulcerations, insect bites, burns and eczema. Traditional medical practices recommend applying a poultice made from crushed flowers and seeds locally on affected areas in order to reduce itching, redness, swelling and soothe the skin.
4) Reduces gum inflammation. A mallow gargle used at regular intervals is said to reduce painful gum inflammation. This is believed to be a result of the presence of compounds with antibacterial properties.
5) Recommended for kidney problems. In traditional medicine, mallow is used to treat kidney stones, kidney inflammation and gallstones. Herbal infusions were drank to promote diuresis and help restore normal kidney function.
6) Other health benefits. Mallow infusions are said to treat headaches, insomnia and constipation. Poultices were sometimes applied on the stomach to help relieve cramps and pain.
Mallow owes its health benefits to potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory natural compounds such as flavonoids, tannins and other polyphenols which offer significant protection against free radical damage. Also, its high mucilage content is supportive of the soothing effects it has on the pharynx, mouth and gastric mucosa.
Conclusion. Overall, mallow is a lovely ornamental plant and a strong medicinal herb. It boasts incredible soothing properties due to its strong anti-inflammatory action. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds of the plant are all edible, adding to its value. Nevertheless, remember that, when consumed in too large amounts, mallow can cause severe allergic reactions with symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting and gastrointestinal discomfort, which you might want to avoid.