Ethnobotanical and scientific aspects of Malva sylvestris L.: a millennial herbal medicine

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2012 Feb;64(2):172-89. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01383.x. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


Objectives: Malva sylvestris L., known as common mallow, is native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. In the Mediterranean region, this species has a long history of use as food, and due to its therapeutic relevance, some parts of this plant have been employed in traditional and ethnoveterinary medicines. The leaves in particular have been reported to have potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-complementary, anticancer and skin tissue integrity activity. Additionally, an anti-ulcerogenic effect was recently proven, demonstrating that the aqueous extract was more effective than cimetidine, a potent medicine used to treat gastric ulcers. Due to its wide use and medicinal importance, many studies have been conducted; however, the information in the literature is very extensive and disseminated, making it difficult to use.

Key findings: A complete review involving the ethnobotanical and scientific aspects of M. sylvestris has been made. The research has provided evidence that M. sylvestris has potential use as a medicinal plant and has highlighted a need for more studies involving clinical and toxicological aspects of its use.

Summary: This review can contribute to the field with its historical context, and by describing the progress made, new ideas for researchers can arise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ethnobotany*
  • Herbal Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Malva / chemistry*
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Veterinary Medicine


  • Plant Extracts