341. Althaea.—Althea. Marshmallow.

Botanical name: 

Fig. 174. Althaea officinalis. Fig. 174a. Cross-section of a portion The dried root of Althae'a officina'lis Linné, deprived of the brown corky layer and small roots.

BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Stem 2 to 4 feet high. Leaves ovate, or slightly heart-shaped, toothed, downy. Flowers pale rose color.

HABITAT.—Europe, Asia, United States, and Australia.

DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—Whitish, cylindrical, or conical pieces deprived of the outer corky layer, from 75 to 150 mm. (3 to 6 in.) long, and about 10 mm. (2/5 in.) or more in diameter; longitudinally wrinkled, and marked with numerous brownish scars; somewhat hairy externally from loosened bast fibers; it breaks with a short mealy fracture, with projecting fiber-ends near the outer edge; odor faint, but characteristic, stronger in infusion; taste sweetish and mucilaginous. A cross-section shows small wood-bundles of scalariform and pitted vessels scattered throughout the prevailing parenchymatous tissue, but

with an indistinctly radiate arrangement near the edge. The cells of the parenchyma contain starch and mucilage, with a few stellate rhaphides. Most of this drug now appears cut into fine pieces or granules. This often looks beautifully white, but on scrutiny it is found coated with lime. (Rusby.)

Powder.—Characteristic elements: Microscopical elements of: See Part iv, Chap. I, B.

CONSTITUENTS.—Asparagin, C4H8N2O3H2O, 1 per cent. (a colorless, nearly tasteless, crystalline principle), bassorin, C12H20O10, 25 per cent. (althaea mucilage, a turbid, slimy, non-adhesive mucilage, which when dried forms a very coherent mass), sugar 8 per cent., pectin 10 per cent., ash 5 per cent., starch 35 per cent., a fixed oil, and a trace of tannin. Ash, not to exceed 8 per cent.

ACTION AND USES.—Used as a demulcent application to inflamed mucous tissues, as in bronchitis. Powdered marshmallow root being exceedingly absorbent, is used advantageously to impart consistency to soft pill-masses. (In Mass. Hydrarg., 15 per cent. In Blaud's Pills and Pil. Phosphorus.)

ALTHEA FOLIA—recognized by the N.F.

A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.