Mallows are plants with showy flowers that have been attributed in different cultures being the remedy for almost any disease. In ancient Greece and Rome its medicinal use was already recognized and it appears registered with the name of alcea in Natural History, the excessive collection of knowledge that in the first century AD Pliny the Elder did. Its origin seems to be China, where its flowers have been used for herbal tea for more than 5000 years.
Alcea rosea is a variety of marshmallow that was introduced from East to Europe by the Arabs of al-Andalus. Appreciated for its ornamental value, it actually appears in the texts of the andalusies geophones -agriculturist- as 'ornamental rose' for the beauty of its flowers and its ornamental features. Of those Arab agricultural texts perhaps the more complete is the work of the Sevillian Ibn al-'Awwam, known as the Book of the Nabatean agriculture, basic treaty to know about the life and work in the fields of al-Andalus, the species of plants that were known and the most common uses they were given. Ibn al-'Awwam recalls that according to the customs of the Nabatean Agriculture, if a person turns around the marshmallow plant, watching the leaves and flowers for about an hour, he is filled with joy and happiness, and his spirit is stronger: comments like this from Ibn al-'Awwam show that the therapeutic use of plants to treat simply sadness or depression was known if not for the civilizations of the Near East as the Nabatean, then at least by the Andalusian botanists.
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