Malva: Effects, Uses, Tips, Beauty & Health Recipes


Malva was used for its properties already at the time of the Greeks and Romans. It was so appreciated that the famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, referring to the properties of this plant, wrote: ‘sow malva, but do not eat it; it is such a precious good that we must not use it with selfishness to our advantage, but it must be reserved for our neighbor. ‘For the Pythagoreans it was a sacred plant; it was also much appreciated by Charlemagne as an ornamental plant. In the Middle Ages it was used in love potions as a soothing against aphrodisiacs. Since 1500 this plant is called ‘omnimorbia’ that is remedy for all ills and even today is one of the best-selling herbal solution in herbal medicine.

What is malva?

Malva, whose scientific name is Malva sylvestris, is a bushy herbaceous plant belonging to the Malvaceae family. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant and for its extraordinary phytotherapeutic properties; has been known since ancient times thanks to its characteristics. The name ‘malva’ derives from the Latin ‘mollire alvum’ which means to soften and from the Greek ‘malakos’ meaning sweet and calming, ‘sylvestris’ means wild, it is native to Europe and Asia, it is widespread in all the Mediterranean and mountain regions and we can find it up to an altitude of 1300 m; it grows spontaneously in the fields, in the grassy places or along the roads.

Malva has a robust erect stem and covered with hair, with a height ranging from 30 cm to 1 m and a tap root; the leaves have a long petiole, consist of 5-7 lobes, have serrated margins and are covered with hair like the stem; the flowers are composed of 5 bilobed petals and are pink to purple (called mauve) with darker purple veins and are found in the axil of the leaf. This plant presents heliotropism, that is, the flower moves following the movements of the sun, as happens in the sunflower.


Chemical constituents


The term derives from flavus (= blond) and refers to the function that they perform as vegetable pigments. Today more than 4 thousand different types have been identified but potentially in nature there are many others because only a small percentage of plants has been studied in this sense. It is the flavonoids that confer some of the most vibrant colors found in nature, including the yellow, the red or the orange of the flowers but also the green scalloping of the leaves or the violet of the roots. However, the primary function they perform in plants is to protect them from ultraviolet rays. In fact, although they are not visible to the human eye, they absorb strongly in the UV spectrum.

Here’s what they’re for. Flavonoids not only protect plants but also human beings. We have seen that in particular they are precious allies to curb degenerative and aging processes. In fact, flavonoids have been recognized antioxidant properties that counteract free radicals. These functions are not a modern discovery: some jobs have centuries-old history even if the first chemical use is relatively recent and dates back to 1936.

It was more specifically a Hungarian scientist to show that the extract of citrus peels, combined with vitamin C , it was effective for strengthening the capillaries. Many modern studies have focused on understanding why flavonoids are so important to health. This led, as mentioned above, to confirm its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The role of flavonoids in reducing the risk of heart disease has been widely demonstrated. But not only: some research would have found anticancer effects.


Tannins are generally non-glycosylated molecules (although there are exceptions), which owe their name to the ability to precipitate proteins. From the molecular and structural point of view the tannins are different compounds, but have the same properties; an example is the saponins, glucosylated molecules where the aglycone can be either steroid or triterpenic. Gallic acid In the case of tannins are distinguished: hydrolysable tannins deriving from gallic acid (C6-C1), of use in cosmetics, and condensed tannins deriving from flavonoids, strong passive defense agents of plants.

The hydrolysable tannins or gallotannins are high molecular weight polymers of gallic acid, in particular they are polyphenols; they are called hydrolysable because they can be attacked and depolymerized by an enzyme called tannase. These tannins are structurally different than condensed tannins, although both are high molecular weight polymers.

Condensed or catechinic tannins are polymers of more complex molecules, C6-C3-C6, and their monomeric unit is the catechin, which has the same formula C6-C3-C6 as flavonoids. Epicatechin despite the two categories having a different molecular structure, both cinnamic acid originate; while this derivation is more evident for hydrolysable tannins, it is less so for catechinic tannins; in reality the latter derive from the stabilization of hydroxycinnamic acid, which – by introducing two hydroxyl groups, – lactonic or pyranoic ring cyclones (C6-C3), which binds to itself another C6 complex, variously hydroxylated, forming the catechin monomer. Monomer which also characterizes the flavonoid active principles. Polycatechins are not hydrolysable by tannase, being structurally more complex molecules.

The properties ascribed to tannic compounds, be they gallotannins or catechinic tannins, are different:

  • astringent: determined by a stop of glandular secretion, a decrease in the permeability of membranes and capillaries, and by vasoconstriction, which reduces the metabolic work of tissues, with anti-inflammatory action.
  • hemostatics: determined by vasoconstriction of the vessels and by the precipitation of blood properties in favor of thrombus formation. This action was used for leather tanning.
  • antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal: carried out by polyphenols; in particular, tea is rich.
  • antidiarroic: inducing a reduction of intestinal peristalsis.
  • antiflammatory: the formation of a small clot protects the tissue from further inflammatory states.


Mucilages are normal cellular constituents of some algae (agar-agar) and plants; in the latter they are mainly concentrated in the seeds, where they perform the peculiar function of retaining water to avoid drying. From a chemical point of view – although they have not yet been precisely defined – they are made up of heterogeneous polysaccharides, which, when in contact with water, dilate to form colloidal, viscous but non-adhesive solutions (the latter, which differentiates them from the rubbers).

The phytotherapeutic interest in mucilage derives precisely from this ability to swell in contact with water, forming plastic masses or viscous dispersions that, once ingested, can have a good activity:

  1. laxative (make the stool softer and stimulate the progression of intestinal contents)
  2. anorectic (by dilating the walls of the stomach, suppressing the stimulus of hunger).

They also demonstrate a certain effectiveness in counteracting inflammation of the respiratory tract (expectorant, antitussive properties), irritations of the digestive tract and intestinal inflammation; they are also used externally to prepare compresses with soothing properties. Classic remedy against constipation, they represent a sweet laxative of natural origin that, unlike many other products with more drastic action (purgative), has few undesirable effects, limited mostly to the appearance of flatulence, meteorism and abdominal cramps. They are contraindicated when constipation is due to mechanical obstruction.

By reducing the absorption of cholesterol and positively modulating that of sugars, some mucilages can make an important contribution in the fight against hypercholesterolemia and in the prevention of diabetes.


Anthocyanins, whose name derives from the union of the Greek words ‘antro kyanos’ = blue flower, are colored pigments present in different flowers and common fruits. From the chemical point of view we speak of anthocyanic glycosides. A glycoside is a substance derived from the union of a sugar, called glycine, with an organic molecule of another nature, called aglycone. In the anthocyanins the non-sugary portion of the molecule is commonly called anthocyanidin. Anthocyanins In nature there are several types of anthocyanidins, including the six most important, called, respectively, pelargoidine, cyanidin, delphinidin, peonidine, petunidin and malvidin.


As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the anthocyanins are found in almost all the fruits and vegetables present in nature, to which they give the nuances of red and blue. Their coloring is in fact linked to the vacuolar pH (the vacuoles are vesicles containing reserve substances, including anthocyanins and other secondary metabolites). Similarly to the litmus paper, in an acidic environment the anthocyanins take on a reddish color; on the contrary when the pH is high (basic environment) they express the various shades of blue.

Before explaining why anthocyanins are so important for human health, it is good to spend a few words about their function in the plant kingdom. In this regard, various hypotheses have been put forward; some, for example, believe that anthocyanins are essential to attract pollinating insects on the flower first, and then animals on the fruit. Certain authors attribute to these pigments the ability to filter out harmful solar radiation; others still extend this hypothesis by attributing to anthocyanins a protective function from drought in moments of high illumination.

The richest natural sources of these substances are berries, aubergines, dark grapes and red chard. Anthocyanins also abound in malva and carcass flowers, as well as in oranges, cherries, apples, strawberries and pears. In general the more their color (reddish or bluish) is intense and the greater the load of anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins, although not essential for human nutrition, have a positive effect on the whole organism. Thanks to their strong antioxidant properties, they are compared to a true natural antidote against aging. By rationalizing the miraculous terms of this statement, the most interesting property of the anthocyanins is the protective action on the microcirculation.

For this reason the cranberry juice, which is the main natural source of anthocyanic glycosides, is often recommended to combat capillary fragility (cellulite, varicose veins, hemorrhoids); moreover, thanks to its anti-edema action, it is very useful for solving water retention problems. The blueberry anthocyanins are also important for the treatment of the fragility and capillary permeability of the eye. Recently, it is giving considerable media space to an even richer fruit of anthocyanins, maqui, typical of South America and renamed the fruit of eternal youth.

Antocyanic glycosides are attributed anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet properties that, together with the vasodilatory and antioxidant action, are a real panacea for the entire cardiovascular system. An adequate consumption of foods rich in anthocyanins is therefore one of the most valid protections against the negative effects induced by hypercholesterolemia. Finally, anthocyanins have scavenger action (detects waste) on free radicals and are therefore very important for the general well-being of the body (protection against carcinogens) and to slow down the inevitable biological phenomenon of aging.

Mineral salts

Mineral saltsMineral salts are inorganic compounds (without organic carbon) that play a fundamental role in the functioning of all living organisms, including humans. Although mineral salts constitute a relatively small part of the human organism (about 6-7% of body weight), they are part of the constitution of many tissues and are essential factors for biological functions and for growth. Mineral salts are present in the human organism both linked to organic molecules, and in an inorganic form in two different states:

  1. in the solid state: as crystals (in bones and teeth);
  2. in solution: both in ionized and non-ionized form (in blood and in biological liquids).

The mineral salts can pass from one state to another as happens for example for calcium, which in case of hypocalcemia, is moved from the bones (where it is found in crystalline form) to the plasma (in ionic form).

Depending on the daily requirement, in human nutrition, mineral salts are classified into three main groups: macroelements, trace elements, micronutrients.

Malva in herbal medicine: propertis of malva

Malva has an anti-inflammatory action on the mucous membranes with which it comes into direct contact. Therefore, being used mainly in infusion, it acts on the digestive system (oral cavity, esophagus, stomach and intestine), placating local inflammatory phenomena.

Malva in herbal medicineMalva is attributed anti-inflammatory, soothing and emollient properties. More precisely, these properties are ascribed to the mucilage present in the leaves and flowers of the same plant.

These mucilages, as mentioned above, have been shown to possess the ability to exercise anti-inflammatory activity against the mucous membranes with which they come into contact. For this reason, the use of malva has been officially approved for the treatment of inflammation of the oropharyngeal cavity, as well as in the case of coughs and bronchitis; but it is not rare to find this plant also in preparations with an emollient and soothing action for the gastrointestinal tract and for the urinary tract (this last use of malva is rather widespread, although it is not officially approved). Finally, mixed laxative and expectorant properties are also attributed to malva.

Malva against inflammation of the oropharyngeal cavity

As mentioned, the use of malva has been officially approved for the treatment of inflammation of the oropharyngeal cavity and to give relief in case of cough and bronchitis, thanks to the anti-inflammatory, soothing and emollient properties that are conferred by the mucilage contained in it.

The malva-based preparations are different and can be found in the form of capsules, syrups, solutions, etc. Usually, the dosage of product to be taken is reported directly on the label or on the packaging of the product to be used. Therefore, we recommend that you follow these guidelines. However, often malva is also taken as an infusion. In this case, it is recommended to prepare the drink using 1.5-2 grams of the preparation. Generally, the infusion can be taken two or three times a day.

Malva against inflammation of the oropharyngeal cavity

Pectoral infusion with malva

  • Altea (Althea officinalis) roots 15 gr
  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) fruits 15 gr
  • Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) Flowering summits 10 gr
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots 10 gr
  • Malva (Malva silvestris) flowers 15 gr
  • Polygala (Polygala senega) roots 10 gr
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Flowering summits 10 gr
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) flowers 15 gr

Mullein contains hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkalodes, so it should not be prescribed for pregnant women and children. The Mullein in the recipe can be replaced by increasing the dose of Helichrysum. For people suffering from gastritis and gastroduodenal ulcers, the polygala should be replaced with other licorice. Polygala can induce nausea and vomiting.

Pectoral infusion with malva: version 2

  • Altea (Althea officinalis) roots 20 gr
  • Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) leaves 20 gr
  • Malva (Malva silvestris) flowers 20 gr
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) flowers 20 gr

Put 40 grams of herbal mixture in a liter of boiling water and leave in infusion (infused 4%). Filter and consume the pectoral infusion for bronchitis three times a day preferably away from meals. If necessary, sweeten the tea with honey.

Notes and contraindications

The herbal tea is not recommended for children and all women who are pregnant because it contains the Mullein and coltsfoot. The intake of coltsfoot should not exceed six weeks per year.

Expectorant herbal tea with malva

  • Butterbur (Petasites officinalis) flowers 30 gr
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) Flowering tops 20 gr
  • Malva (Malva silvestris) flowers 20 gr
  • Horehound (Marrubium vulgare L.) Flowering tops 30 gr

Put 50 grams of herbal mixture in a liter of boiling water and leave in infusion (infused 5%). Filter and consume the bechica tea for 2-3 times a day, preferably away from meals. If necessary use honey to make the taste of the tea more pleasant.

Notes and contraindications

The use of butterbur in herbal medicine is rather limited due to the presence of pyrrolididal alkalodes. In the past the butterbur was used for the treatment of dysmenorrhea.

Bechamic-expectorant tea

  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) Flowering tops 20 gr
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots 10 gr
  • Malva (Malva silvestris) flowers 20 gr
  • Horehound (Marrubium vulgare L.) Flowering tops 30 gr
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) flowers 20 gr

Put 50 grams of herbal mixture in a liter of boiling water and leave in infusion (infused 5%). Filter and consume the bechica tea for 2-3 times a day, preferably away from meals. If necessary use honey to make the taste of the tea more pleasant.

Expectorant tea

  • Butterbur (Petasites officinalis) flowers 30 gr
  • Malva (Malva silvestris) flowers 20 gr
  • Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) flowers 25 gr
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) flowers 20 gr

Put 50 grams of herbal mixture in a liter of boiling water and leave in infusion (infused 5%). Filter and consume the bechica tea for 2-3 times a day, preferably away from meals. If necessary use honey to make the taste of the tea more pleasant.

Notes and contraindications

Pay attention to the use of butterbur, which must not exceed six weeks a year. Red poppy should not be taken together with drugs or hypnotic-sedative substances. Expectorant tea is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women due to the presence of red poppy.

Licorice herbal tea

  • Altea (Althea officinalis) roots 25 gr
  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) fruits 25 gr
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots 25 gr
  • Primrose odorous (Primula officinalis) rhizomes 25 gr

Put 30 grams of herbal mixture in a liter of boiling water and leave in infusion (infused 3%). Filter and consume the licorice-flavored tisane for 2-3 times a day, preferably away from meals.

Cough infusion with malva

  • Enula (Inula helenium) roots 30 gr
  • Butterbur (Petasites officinalis) flowers 40 gr
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots 30 gr

Boil a teaspoon of the herbal mixture in 120 ml of water for about ten minutes. Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Filter and consume one cup three times a day before meals.

Herbal tea with thymus

  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) dried fruits 15 gr
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots 25 gr
  • Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) dried leaves 35 gr
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Flowering tops 25 gr

Put 50 grams of herbal mixture in a liter of boiling water and leave in infusion (infused 5%). Filter and consume the bechica tea for 2-3 times a day, preferably away from meals.

Cough and phlegm infusion with malva

  • Ivy (Hedera helix) 5 gr
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) leaves 10 gr
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots 40 gr
  • Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) flowers 15 gr
  • Thyme snake (Thymus serpyllum) grass 30 gr

For the preparation of the infusion, the patient is advised to use the amount of about 150 ml of water at a time (as recommended by the Austrian pharmacopoeia, unlike the FU which recommends 250) and to use about one tablespoon of the mixture, three times a day, to be left to infuse for 10 minutes. In a spoon you have about 0.30 g of ivy, 2 g of licorice and 0.50 of eucalyptus. Although the tea is to be considered absolutely free of any adverse reaction to the prescribed doses, it is advisable not to administer to children under two years of age and not to prolong their use for more than 4-6 weeks.

Notes and contraindications

The ivy is reported in the monograph of the 1988 Commission E as indicated in airway catarrhs. No contraindication, no significant side effect is known. The same applies to the thymus (which in the past had been attributed to antibiotic properties).

Eucalyptus possesses secretolytic and secretory activity and to it (as in the thymus) some antiseptic properties are recognized by some. Eucalyptus is contraindicated in severe liver diseases and inflammatory diseases of the intestinal tract: in rare cases it can cause nausea and diarrhea.

Licorice has expectorant properties (secretolytic and secretory action) and in this preparation also performs the function of corrective flavor. It can enhance the loss of potassium salts caused by other drugs, such as thiazides; for this reason it is advisable not to exceed the indicated doses and not to go beyond a month of treatment. Regarding the use of poppy it must be said that even if the effectiveness as a respiratory drug and as a central sedative has not been sufficiently demonstrated, it remains true that it has a very large popular use (especially in certain regions) and has no known contraindication. It is part of a registered medicinal specialty.

Obesity and constipation decoction

For a delicate laxative action, prepare the infusion leaving 40 g of leaves and flowers, fresh or dried, in a liter of boiling water for 10 minutes; filter and drink 3 cups a day.

Punch with malva and oranges

Malva punch and oranges is prepared by pouring an infusion of malva, dextrose, orange juice and lemon juice into an ice-filled glass carafe. Before serving the cocktail, mix with bar spoon and decorate with slices of orange.

  • Malva infusion 700 ml
  • Dextrose 90 g
  • Orange juice 330 ml
  • Lemon juice 10 ml

It is advisable to consume malva and orange punch in a carafe glass. The ingredients are calculated for four glasses. Punch of malva and oranges is an alcohol-free cocktail. The Punch cocktail of malva and oranges, prepared according to the quantities specified in the traditional recipe, provides about 248 calories (Kcal).

Malva extract is obtained from the leaves of the Malva sylvestris, a herbaceous plant belonging to the Malvaceae family. It appears as a fine powder of brown color partially soluble in water. From the leaves and flowers we obtain a mucilage mainly consisting of L-ramnose, L-arbinosio, L-galactose, D-glucose and galacturonic acid which together with the anthocyanins (malvina and malvidina) and vitamin A, B1 and C, constitutes the part active drug. The mucilages are able to absorb large quantities of water forming a fluid gel which, like a thin film, slowly releases water to the stratum corneum. The extract therefore has emollient, softening and protective properties.

The malva extract, thanks to the high content of mucilage hydrating, softening and anti-reddening is used in the formulation of creams, milks and masks for dry, sensitive, irritated by environmental and atmospheric agents, in after-sun and aftershave products, toothpastes and mouthwashes with decongestant and soothing action for the mucous membranes. Also of interest is the use in shampoos, bubble baths and detergents for personal hygiene, where the mucilage reduces the irritancy of the base foam. The extract is harmless and safe when used at normal use concentrations.

Malva skin and hair recipes

Malva is a plant known for its benefits and for its healing properties, which do not have particular contraindications. It is also a very valid natural cosmetic:

Emollient and anti-wrinkle cream

Chop 30 g of flowers and leaves (better if fresh) and put them in a saucepan with 40 g of butter that you have removed in time from the fridge; heat in a bain-marie without ever reaching boiling and often mixing the dough until it has the consistency of a cream; pass through a sieve, squeezing well, leave to harden and used as a night cream.

Malva hair care lotion

Rinse after the shampoo with the decoction obtained by boiling for 200 minutes 200 g of flowers and leaves in 3 liters of water.

Prepare the maceration by putting 50 g of fresh plant in 1 liter of apple vinegar for a week, shaking occasionally. Filter, bottle and put small amounts before and after the shampoo on the hair making it absorb everything with a long message.

Malva skin and hair recipes

Malva lotion against acne

Boil 2-3 fresh malva leaves, drain and immerse them in a mixture of a grapefruit and a tomato juice; apply the leaves on the affected area leaving in place for 30 minutes, then rinse with cold water acidulated with the juice of half a lemon and pat dry, without rubbing. Repeat a couple of times a day.

Heat the pieces of dried root in a pan over a gentle heat and apply them warm on the boils to accelerate their maturation.

Prepare the decoction by boiling 40 g of leaves, fresh or dried, in 1 l of water for 15 minutes and soak the tablets to be applied twice a day for about 20 30 minutes.

Mask for reddened or irritated skin

Prepare the infusion by putting 5 g of leaves and flowers in 2.5 dl of water for 5 minutes, filter and soak the tablets to be applied on the affected part several times a day.

Mask for sensitive and dehydrated skin

Boil for 10 minutes 10 g of leaves in a liter of water, let stand for 5 minutes and use the facial compresses for 20 minutes.

Malva planting and repotting

Malva flowers are used at the beginning of flowering and younger leaves to prepare infusions and decoctions. Leaves and flowers are preserved by drying them in the air away from the sun’s rays and then placed in glass vases. Malva has moisturizing and emollient properties (as its name indicates); you can prepare an infusion to add to the bath water or use it to prepare beauty products; it is also diuretic, laxative and sedative; It is used to treat inflammation of the mouth, digestive tract, urinary and respiratory tract. It is also used for the creation of soaps, toothpastes and eye drops. Sprouts and young leaves are also used in cooking raw or cooked seasoned with oil, lemon and salt.

Malva can grow well in any environment. The best exposure is in full sunlight, but this plant grows optimally even in partial shade. It resists well both at high and low temperatures, but it is better to place it in a place protected from the wind. As for the ground, malva has no special requirements, it can also be grown in sandy or dry soils, but it is preferable to use a substratum rich in organic material.


It is recommended to carry out the planting from the end of the summer to after the end of winter, avoiding the periods with too low temperatures. You dig a hole twice the length of the roots, put the plant in the hole and then cover it with the earth; then you have to compress the earth and water abundantly. If the seedlings grow too close they must be spaced about 30 cm. The repotting should be done in the spring when the seedlings will have reached a height of 8 - 10 cm.

It is advisable to water malva regularly during the hottest periods; in autumn and winter it should be washed less frequently. Better to avoid stagnation of water and to wet the ground too much.

Malva does not need excessive fertilization; if necessary, a slow release granular fertilizer can be used; this fertilization should be done every three, four months avoiding, however, the late spring which is the most suitable period for the collection of flowers and leaves.

Malva is reproduced by seed; sowing is done in spring or summer. Another method of reproduction is the cutting to be carried out in late spring or in summer. Malva often spreads even on its own; moreover new plants can be created by division of the tufts.

Malva planting and repottingMalva does not need any copious amounts of pruning; just shorten the branches at the end of flowering and eliminate the dry and damaged parts.

The plant blooms from spring and throughout the summer; if the withered flowers are eliminated, the flowering continues until the autumn. The flower has a very particular color, ranging from pink to violet; to this color the name of mauve was given. These plants lend themselves very well to the creation of colored spots in the gardens, thanks to their prolonged flowering.

If stagnations of water or excessive moisture are formed, malva can be attacked by fungi that lead to root rot; in this case it is necessary to intervene by drying excess water and using fungicide products. Another problem is the attack of aphids and cochineals to fight by washing the plant and treating it with specific products.

Before buying malva it is advisable to check the state of health of the plant, growth, if there have been water stress and lack of light and the presence of any diseases. It is preferable to choose healthy plants, with bright colors and without dry or damaged parts.

The family of the malvacee includes about 25 species; in addition to the malva sylvestris, there is also malva alcea, which is a plant that has showy pink flowers; another known species is the malva crispa which has curled leaves.