Mallow, the very mellow plant
Just hearing the name makes you feel more relaxed, isn’t it? We want to tell you all about origins, properties and uses of mallow, the emollient plant par excellence.
Let’s start with a bit of botany: Malva Sylvestris, also called wild mallow, belongs to the Malvaceae family; it is a biennial or perennial herbaceous plant that can reach one meter in height. Its leaves are divided into 5-7 lobes with 5 petals purple-pink flowers that appear from spring to autumn. Mallow loves rich and porous soils, you can often spot it growing on the edge of submontane roads.
With its Euro-Siberian origin, today it is present throughout the Italian Peninsula. Among the varieties of Mallow used in traditional medicine, the Sylvestris type emerges for its multiple benefits as archaeological studies in Syria have proven the consumption of this plant for medicinal purposes already 3000 years ago. Let’s dig deeper to find out more!
What are the properties and benefits of mallow?
Mallow has been called the ‘softest’ plant because it has anti-inflammatory, slightly laxative and soothing properties. It is recommended to regulate the intestine and as an emollient of the mouth and throat in case of bronchitis, dental abscesses, canker sores, gingivitis or general inflammation. It can also act as an expectorant and decongestant of the mucous membranes. Even in traditional medicine it has always been used as a detoxifier for the liver and for heartburn.
How to use mallow?
In medicine: mallow is widely used in herbal teas and pharmaceutical preparations for its sedative and emollient properties. It is no coincidence that we have decided to select it as an ingredient for our Remedium n.1 – Night, the one dedicated to reconcile sleep and improve the quality of night’s rest. Furthermore, by re-appropriating the traditional use of consuming mallow for liver purification, we wanted to include this wondrous herb also in Remedium n.4 – Hangover, together with 11 other plants that synergistically work in favor of the liver, stomach and intestine releasing a distinct and pleasant sensation of tone and energy.
In the kitchen: you know what they say: of the mallow nothing should be thrown away! Young leaves and shoots, rich in calcium and iron, can be eaten in a fresh mixed salad or cooked as a vegetable. Its more tender branches can be put in soups to enrich the flavour, eaten as a side dish dressed with oil, salt and lemon or even used as a filling for ravioli, meatballs and omelettes. The beautiful flowers can be fried in batter or left natural to enliven the color of cakes and salads; as a last suggestion, if dried, they can also be used to add a touch of color to herbal tea blends.
In cosmetics: hand cream, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, mouthwash and skin lotion… mallow can enrich all of these products: softness guaranteed!
Many believe that the name mallow comes from the Greek malakos, “soft”, precisely referencing the emollient virtues of the plant; but not everyone agrees, however, as others find the derivation would be from “mal va” that is “away to evil”. In ancient times it was sown around tombs, because it was a symbol of sweetness and gave peace and serenity to the souls of the dead. The Pythagoreans considered it a sacred plant, with the power to free men from the slavery of passions.
- Luciano, R. and Gatti, C., 2014. Erbe spontanee commestibili. Boves (CN): Araba fenice.
- Bulgarelli, G. and Flamigni, S., 2015. Guida pratica alle piante officinali. Milano: Hoepli Editore.
- Gasparetto, João Cleverson, et al. “Ethnobotanical and scientific aspects of Malva sylvestris L.: a millennial herbal medicine.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 64.2 (2012): 172-189.