Althaea officinalis, Linne'. The dried root deprived of the brown, corky layer and small roots.

Habitat. Europe, Western and Northern Asia; naturalized in salt marshes, New England, New York, Australia; cultivated in Europe.

Syn. Marsh Mallow Root, Marsh Mallow, White Mallow, Mortification Root, Sweetweed, Wymote, Fr. Racine de Guimauve, Guimauve; Ger. Radix Althaeae, Eibischwursel, Eibisch.

Al-thea'a. L. fr. Gr. to heal, cure -- i.e., its medicinal qualities (Dioscorides).

Of-fi-ci-na-'lis. L. see (Smilax) officinalis.

PLANT. Perennial herb .6-1.3 M. (2-4') high, having several woolly stems; flowers large, 2.5-5 Cm. (1-2') in diameter, purple. ROOT, slenderly tapering, 15-30 Cm. (6-12') long, 1-2 Cm. (2/5-4/5') thick; usually cut into small pieces, 5 Mn. (1/5') thick, whitish, longitudinally furrowed, frequently spirally twisted and covered with somewhat loosened bast-fibers (hairy); facture fibrous (bark), short granular (wood); internally yellowish-white; bark 1-2 Mm. (1/25-1/12') thick, porous (due to mucilage cells) and separated from slightly radiating wood by grayish cambium zone; odor slight; taste sweetish, mucilaginous.

Powder

whitish -- many starch grains up to .03 Mm. 91/833') in diameter, usually with long central cleft; groups of fibers with thick, more or less lignified walls; tracheae, scalariform thickenings or bordered pores, few calcium oxalate crystals in rosette aggregates. Tests: 1. Macerate 1 Gm for 30 minutes in water 10 cc., stirring occasionally, filter through purified cotton -- pale yellow, neutral mucilage, + a few drops of sodium hydroxide, T. S. -- turns deep yellow; mucilage does not have a sour or ammoniacal odor. Leaves (Althaeae Folia, Marsh Mallow Leaves, N. F.). The dried leaves with not more than 5 p.c. stems and fruits or other organic matter. Crumpled or matted, gray-green, densely and finely tomentose, petioles 1-6 Cm. (2/5 - 2 2/5') long; blades 3-15 Cm (1 1/5 - 6') long, 3-10 Cm. (1 1/5 - 4') broad, thin, cordate, rounded at base, acute, doubly serrate-dentate, lobed, 2-6 principal veins from midrib in the petiole; odor slight, scarcely characteristic; taste mucilaginous. Powder, grayish-green -- stellate and glandular hairs, calcium oxalate in rosette aggregates, stomata, mucilage cells, pollen grains. Solvents: water -- cold, dissolving asparagin, mucilage, sugar; hot, also starch. Dose 3 ss-1 (2-4 Gm.).

Adulterations

Root

Belladonna root, when young and peeled, resembles althea, but distinguished by absence of hair-like bast-fibers, and by possessing visible yellowish wood bundles. Old, dark-colored althea roots sometimes are whitened with calcium oxide or sulphate, which subside to the bottom upon soaking in water, thereby readily being detected. Root sometimes marketed cut in small cubes, rendering admixtures more likely. Powder: Starchy substances recognized by shape of starch granules.

Commercial: Plant, during first two years, produces only a tap-root, which soon thereafter becomes tough, woody, inert, and much branched, the branches having little medicinal value. The unscraped root is yellowish-brown, non-fibrous, and should be collected (late autumn) from cultivated plants, peeled and dried carefully. Leaves and flowers sometimes used.

Constituents

Root

Asparagin (althein, amido (-succinamide, -succinic acid, asparamide), 1 - 2 p.c. Mucilage (bassorin, althea mucilage, upon which value depends), 35 p.c., starch 37 p.c., pectin 11 p.c., betaine, sugar 11 p.c., fat 1.25 p.c., ash 4 - 8 p.c. Leaves similar but less mucilage.

Asparagin - C H0N, H0: Obtained by putting the thick, viscid, mucilage of althea into a dialyser, with water outside.  Asparagin passes into the water, which, upon evaporation, yields the crystals.  These are colorless, neutral, transparent, lustrous, sp. Gr. 1,520, soluble in water (47), acids alkalies, converted by these latter into ammonia and aspartic acid; therapeutically inactive.  Dose: gr. 5 - 10 (.3 - .6 Gm.).

Preparations

Root

1.  Massa Hydrargyri, 15 p.c.  2.  Piluloe Ferri' Carbonatis, 1/6 gr. (.01 Gm.).  3.  Piluloe Phosphori, 1 gr. (.06 Gm.).  4.  Syrupus Althaeae, N.F., 5 p.c., + alcohol 3, glycerin 10, sucrose 70, water q.s. 100.  Dose: 3j-4 (4 - 15 cc.).  5.  Species Pectorales, Breast Tea, N.F., 40 p.c., + coltsfoot 20, glycyrrhiza 15, anise, mullein flowers, aa 10, orris 5.  Leaves:  1. Species Emollientes, Emollient Cataplasm, N.F., 20 p.c. -- althea leaves, mallow leaves, melilot, matricaria, linseed, aa 20 Gm., hot water q.s. 100.  Poultice.

Althaea officinalis: 1. Expanded flower. 2. Vertical section of flower. 3. Stamen. 4. Stamen after discharge of pollen. 5. Fruit. 6. Outside calyx as seen from beneath.

Unoff. Preps: Decoctyion, infusion, each 5 p.c., 3j-4 (30-120 cc.). Ointment.

Properties

Root And Leaves

Demulcent, emollient, protective.

Uses

Inflammations of pulmonary, digestive, and urinary organs, mucous membranes; skin eruptions, herpes, psoriasis, enema (decoction) for vaginal and rectal irritation. In pharmacy, the powdered root, being very absorbent, is used to harden pills, troches, electuaries, etc. A. Ro'sea, Hollyhock. Levant, formerly cultivated in gardens for flowers (petals - Flores Malvae Arboreae), 7.5 - 12.5 Cm. (3 - 5') broad, nearly sessile, composed of tomentose calyx and 5 purple petals.