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Both kinds of mallows,1 on the other hand, the cultivated and the wild, are held in very general esteem. These kinds are subdivided, each of them, into two varieties, according to the size of the leaf. The cultivated mallow with large leaves is known to the Greeks by the name of "malope,"2 the other being called "malache,"3—from the circumstance, it is generally thought, that it relaxes4 the bowels. The wild5 mallow, again, with large leaves and white roots, is called "althæa," and by some persons, on account of its salutary properties, "plistolochia."6 Every soil in which mallows are sown, is rendered all the richer thereby. This plant is possessed of remarkable virtues,7 as a cure for all kinds of stings,8 those of scorpions, wasps, and similar insects, as well as the bite of the shrew-mouse, more particularly; nay, what is even more than this, if a person has been rubbed with oil in which any one of the mallows has been beaten up, or even if he carries them on his person, he will never be stung. A leaf of mallow put upon a scorpion, will strike it with torpor.

The mallow is an antidote, also, against the poisonous effects of white9 lead; and applied raw with saltpetre, it extracts all kinds of pointed bodies from the flesh. A decoction of it with the root, taken in drink, neutralizes the poison of the sea-hare,10 provided, as some say, it is brought off the stomach by vomiting.

Other marvels are also related in connection with the>e mallow, but the most surprising thing of all is, that if a person takes half a cyathus of the juice of any one of them daily, he will be exempt from all diseases.11 Left to putrefy in wine, mallows are remedial for running sores of the head, and, mixed with honey, for lichens and ulcerations of the mouth; a decoction of the root, too, is a remedy for dandriff12 of the head and looseness of the teeth. With the root of the mallow which has a single stem,13 it is a good plan to prick the parts about a tooth when it aches, until the pain has ceased. With the addition of human saliva, the mallow cleanses scrofulous sores, imposthumes of the parotid glands, and inflammatory tumours, without producing a wound. The seed of it, taken in red wine, disperses phlegm and relieves nausea; and the root, attached to the person with black wool, is a remedy for affections of the mamillæ. Boiled in milk, and taken as a pottage, it cures a cough within five days.

Sextius Niger says that mallows are prejudicial to the stomach, and Olympias, the Theban authoress, asserts that, employed with goose-grease, they are productive of abortion. Some persons are of opinion, that a good handful of the leaves, taken in oil and wine, promotes the menstrual discharge. At all events, it is a well-known fact, that if the leaves are strewed beneath a woman in labour, the delivery will be accelerated; but they must be taken away immediately after the birth, or prolapsus of the uterus will be the consequence. Mallow-juice, also, is given to women in labour, a decoction of it being taken fasting in wine, in doses of one hemina.

Mallow seed is attached to the arms of patients suffering from spermatorrhœa; and, so naturally adapted is this plant for the promotion of lustfulness, that the seed of the kind with a single stem, sprinkled upon the genitals, will increase the sexual desire in males to an infinite degree, according to Xenocrates; who says, too, that if three roots are attached to the person, in the vicinity of those parts, they will be productive of a similar result. The same writer informs us also, that injections of mallows are good for tenesmus and dysentery, and for maladies of the rectum even, if used as a fomentation only. The juice is given warm to patients afflicted with melan- choly, in doses of three cyathi, and to insane persons14 in doses of four. One hemina of the decoction is prescribed, also, for epilepsy.15 A warm decoction of the juice is employed, too, as a fomentation for calculus, flatulency, gripings of the stomach, and opisthotony. The leaves are boiled, and applied with oil, as a poultice for erysipelas and burns, and raw, with bread, to arrest inflammation in wounds. A decoction of mallows is beneficial for affections of the sinews and bladder, and for gnawing pains of the intestines; taken, too, as an aliment, or an injection, they are relaxing to the uterus, and the decoction, taken with oil, facilitates the passage of the urine.16

The root of the althæa17 is even more efficacious for all the purposes above enumerated, and for convulsions and ruptures more particularly. Boiled in water, it arrests looseness of the bowels; and taken in white wine, it is a cure for scrofulous sores, imposthumes of the parotid glands, and inflammations of the mamillæ. A decoction of the leaves in wine, applied as a liniment, disperses inflammatory tumours; and the leaves, first dried, and then boiled in milk, are a speedy cure for a cough, however inveterate. Hippocrates prescribes a decoction of the root to be drunk by persons wounded or thirsty from loss of blood, and the plant itself as an application to wounds, with honey and resin. He also recommends it to be employed in a similar manner for contusions, sprains, and tumours of the muscles, sinews, and joints, and prescribes it to be taken in wine for asthma and dysentery. It is a singular thing, that water in which this root has been put, thickens when exposed in the open air, and congeals18 like ice. The more recently, however, it has been taken up, the greater are the virtues of the root.19

1 See B. xix. c. 22.

2 The Malva silvestris of Linnæus, or wild mallow.

3 The Malva rotundifolia of Linnæus, or round-leaved mallow.

4 From υαλάσσω, to "soften," or "relax."

5 These wild varieties are the same in every respect as the cultivated kinds; their essential characteristics not being changed by cultivation. See further as to the Althæa or marsh mallow, at the latter end of this Chapter.

6 The meaning of this name appears to be unknown. "Pistolochia" is a not uncommon reading.

7 Mallows were commonly used as a vegetable by the ancients; and are so in China and the south of France, at the present day. The mucilaginous principle which they contain renders them emollient and pectoral; they are also slightly laxative.

8 The only benefit resulting from the application of mallows would be the reduction of the inflammation; the plant having no efficacy whatever in neutralizing the venom.

9 Sub-carbonate of lead. The mallow would have little or no effect in such a case.

10 See B. ix. c. 72, and B. xxxii. c. 3.

11 The same was said in the middle ages, of the virtues of sage, and in more recent times of the Panax quinquefolium, the Ginseng of the Chinese.

12 Q. Serenus Sammonicus speaks of the accumulation of dandriff in the hair to such a degree as to form a noxious malady. He also mentions the present remedy for it.

13 Some commentators have supposed this to be the Alcea rosa of Linnæus; but Fée considers this opinion to be quite unfounded.

14 It would be of no use whatever in such cases, Fée says.

15 Without any good results, Fée says.

16 "Permeatus suaves facit." We can only make a vague guess at the meaning; as the passage is, most probably, corrupt.

17 The Althæa officinalis of Linnæus, or marsh-mallow. The medicinal properties are similar to those of the other varieties of the maliow.

18 It is the fact, that water, in which mallows are steeped, owing to the mucilage of the root, assumes the appearance of milk.

19 Fée says that this milky appearance of the water does not depend on the freshness of the root; as it is only the aqueous particles that are dried up, the mucilage preserving its chemical properties in their original integrity.

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