(From Althaea 388 to heal,) called also bismalva, hibiscus, malvaviscus, bolus Judaica, anadendro-ma/ache, anadendron, aristaltheca; in English, marsh-mallow. It is the althea officinalis Lin. Sp. Pi. 966, and Wildenow, G. 1289, Sp. 1. Natural Order. Columnaceae.

All the parts of this plant abound with a mucilaginous matter, with little odour or taste. The dry roots, if boiled in water, give out near half their weight of gummy matter, which, in evaporating, forms a flavourless yellowish mucilage; the leaves afford nearly one-fourth, the flowers and seeds still less.

All its virtues depend on its mucilage, and consequently, its demulcent and emollient qualities, where the membranes become abraded, or the mucus thin and acrid: it moderates tickling coughs, gives relief in hoarseness, erosions of the stomach and intestines, dysentery, difficulty and heat of urine, and nephritic complaints: two or three ounces of the fresh roots, or one ounce of the dry, may be boiled in a sufficient quantity of water to a quart, to which one ounce of gum arabic may be added, and one dram of nitre: a little of the juice of liquorice renders it more palatable, From long boiling, it acquires a bitterish taste; and when ordered in a decoction of the woods, it must be put in some time after the other ingredients.

The London College has introduced a syrup of althea; and more refined practice a very pleasing and more efficacious form - a paste made from its powder, viz. pate de guimauve.

The custom of sitting over an infusion of marshmal-low leaves for curing the piles, is useless, for nothing of the mucilage arises with the watery vapours.

Externally it is employed in emollient poultices; and in the foreign Pharmacopoeias it is an ingredient in, and gives a name to, an ointment.

The great comfrey root is preferable in all the cases wherein the althea is used.