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Also known as bala, country mallow is a type of shrub that originates in the nation of India. Over the years, bala has been successfully cultivated in a number of places around the world, including parts of North America, French Polynesia, and the Hawaiian Islands. The leaves, stems and even the roots of country mallow are utilized in many types of alternative medicine to treat respiratory ailments, as well as a host of other health problems.
Country mallow is classified as a perennial, and is distinguished by a felt-like coating that is found over the entire plant. This coating has led the shrub to be known as flannel weed in some parts of the world. The leaves tend to be somewhat heart-shaped, and typically a yellow-green color. The flowers of the shrub are usually a deep yellow, accentuated with an orange center. Depending on the climate, the plant may grow to a height of anywhere between 20 inches (about 50 centimeters) to around 80 inches (about 200 centimeters).
Just about all parts of country mallow are used as home remedies for a number of ailments. The stems and roots are known to contain ephedrine, an alkaloid that can be helpful with nervous disorders as well as aiding in regulating the function of the heart. A tea or tincture prepared using the roots of the plant are said to be ideal for alleviating fatigue, leaving the individual feeling rested and rejuvenated. There are also claims that country mallow can aid in promoting increased circulation which many alternative medical practitioners believe helps to expedite healing. The increased circulation also means that there is less potential for numbness in the extremities or inflammation in the joints that could impair mobility.
The properties of country mallow are also said to aid in treating impotence, promoting healthy function of both the male and female reproductive systems, often by promoting increased blood flow and sensitivity to those areas. In like manner, the dietary supplement is said to provide almost instant relief for people suffering from bronchitis or some form of asthma, making it possible to breathe normally without pain. For people who are experiencing a cold or the flu, country mallow is said to minimize nasal congestion, calm headaches, and in general relieve the pain of various types of body aches.
While country mallow is utilized in several different alternative healthcare traditions, research by proponents of Western medicine into the effectiveness of the shrub has been somewhat limited. As with most herbs and plants used in folk or home remedies, a physician should be consulted before using any type of country mallow supplement along with a prescription medication. This will help prevent situations where the properties of the supplement either offset the benefit from the medication, or magnify the effect in a way that is not in the best interest of the patient.