Malva Herb: Traditional and Medicinal Use
Farwa Nadeem1, Mahmood Ul Hasan2, Muhammad Tahir Akram2, Muhammad Muzahir3
1Department of Chemistry, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
2Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
3Faculty of Food Nutrition and Home Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
Human beings are getting and improving knowledge about medicinal plants through their continuous contact with natural environment with time being. Plants are cultivated for numerous purposes such as food, shelter, clothing, flavors, fragrances, wood, transportation and medicine. While some uncultivated plants and wild herbs have astonishingly important medicinal effects. Ethnic or traditional system of medicines has served mankind by providing efficient remedies against various diseases. These medicines are equally beneficial for many domestic and nondomestic animals. In world famous drugs the contribution of natural medicinal components obtained from plants is more than 50%. In spite of modern medicine discovery the majority of world’s population is still relying on herbal medicines obtained from different parts of plants such as seed, flowers, leaves, roots, stems, wood and bark. But the use of same plants can be varied in different regions of the world.
The Malva sylvestris L. is a biennial–perennial herbaceous plant found as a weed in many parts of the world. The origin of Malva sylvestris L. is southern Europe and Asia and it belongs to family Malvaceae. Malva sylvestris L. or common ‘mallow’ is known by different vernacular names such as ‘Panirak’, ‘Khabazi’ in Iran, ‘Marva’ in Italy and ‘Malva in Portugal’. These plants have broad, heart shaped large leaves, two to three feet high stem, perennial juicy root and purple colour flowers. Malva flowers closely resemble to honey suckle. Malva sylvestris L. can also be used as a source of food however, the use of common mallow in kitchen is almost negligible or nearly forgotten. Its leaves, flowers and even seeds can be used as salads because seeds have similar taste to young hazel nuts. This plant is a rich source of minerals including calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc and copper.
Malva sylvestris L. has many traditional and modern uses as medicine because its leaves have huge amount of vitamin-C, essential oils, tannins, mucus and flavonoids. Its flowers contain one of the most important naturally occuring chemical compound known as ‘anthocyanin glycoside malvin’. Traditional phytotherapy uses include treatment of inflammations of mucus membrane, cough, stomach ache, non-specific dermatitis, emphysema, sore throat, and severe throat infections. It has some strong antioxidants of nature that protects the body from free harmful radical chain reactions due to the presence of atomic oxygen that can cause degenerative diseases like aging and recognize cancer causing agents. These antioxidants can be used by humans as dietary or food supplement and as medicine. In the present age, the central focus of research on industrial scale is to find out the antimicrobial and antioxidant phytochemical properties of various fruits and vegetables. These properties are mainly due to different types of flavonoids, vitamins, terpenoides, minerals and some other phytochemicals.
The Malva Sylvestris L. is also used widely in folk medicines for the treatment of stomatitis, nasal congestion and asthmatic bronchitis. The larger and younger leaves that are not infected by fungus can only be used as food and medicine. Due to high mucus substances, these flowers are used extensively in herbal medicine. This plant can be used for treatment of boils, insect bites, wounds, skin rashes, acne, pimples, swellings and eczema due to anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and astringent properties. Other uses include treatment of insomnia, toothache, kidney stone, gastritis, inflammations of kidneys, headache and constipation. Phytochemical screening of some extracts of leaves of Malva sylvestris L. are used in different concentrations such as 0.1% and 0.3% as antioxidant during heating cotton seed oils for different time periods. It helps to treat the severe respiratory disorders such as healing of mucosa of upper respiratory tract.
A tea made from the leaves or flowers may be used as a remedy for cough, catarrh and hoarseness. The dried flowers and extracts are used in many commercial tea blends and over-the-counter medication intended as a relief for coughs. Tea made from the herb is said to help nursing mothers to produce more milk. Besides its health benefits to human it is reported to have
drug interactions with other medicine particularly it shows digestive or respiratory-related issues in humans. Before adding this powerful herb to your health diet, consult your physician regarding any other medications you may currently be using.