Indian mallow has been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems and is native to the Indian subcontinent from where it has spread, becoming invasive in some Pacific islands. In ancient Sanskrit writings it is called Atibala and has been used to treat a number of illnesses including jaundice, piles, leprosy, headaches, peptic ulcers and gastro-intestinal problems as well as being used as a laxative, aphrodisiac and to increase semen production. It has the reputation of being an aphrodisiac for both genders.
   In some countries it has been cultivated as an ornamental and flowers between June and September. The seeds then ripen until November, and the pod as you can see from the picture, gives it the appearance of a seal so it is called “mudra” in some parts of India. It is a member of the Malvaceae family of plants and so is related to the common mallow and to hibiscus, durian fruit, okra and the red silk cotton tree.  Like the Evening primrose, it opens its flowers in the evening and these may be bright yellow or orange-yellow.
  In previous times the powdered plant was given to prospective brides, mixed with honey and taken once a day for six months before marriage to ensure a quick and safe pregnancy and delivery.
  The leaves are used for bladder infections and gonorrhoea as well as the ailments listed above and as a poultice for piles. It has been found that a petroleum ether extract of the plant can kill mosquito larvae which, is very useful in countries which are stricken with dengue fever such as Pakistan.
  It is said that the plant has rejuvenating properties in that it is a strong tonic for the heart and body. The roots have analgesic properties and in a study Tripathi P. et al. 2011, “Anti-inflammatory activity of Abutilon indicum extract” conclude that the extract used was comparable with the action of “standard ibuprofen” and “The results prove the traditional use of the plant in the treatment of inflammation.” More studies are needed of course to verify the claims.
  This plant has been the subject of various research studies with the leaves being tested in most of them. In The International Journal of Biological and Medical Research, 2011 Vol.2 (4) pp. 908-11 Ganga Suresh P. et al “Evaluation of wound healing activity of “abutilon indicum” Linn in wister albino rats” state “…the petroleum ether extract of “Abutilon indicum” Linn had greater wound healing activity than the ethanol extract.”
    Further studies include that of Dashputre N.L. and Naikwade N. S. 2011, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research “Evaluation of Anti-Ulcer Activity of Methanolic Extract of Abutilon indicum Linn Leaves in Experimental Rats” conclude “the anti-ulcer properties of the extract may be attributed to the presence of phytochemicals like flavonoids (quercetin), alkaloids, and tannins present in the plant extract with various biological activities.” In other words it seems to work but more research is needed to discover how it works.
  Quercetin is found in many pants with good concentrations in red apple skins and is known to have antioxidant properties.
  Dashputre al also published research in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research in 2010, Vol. 1 (3) “ Immunomodulatory Activity of Abutilon Indicum Linn on Albino Mice” and conclude that the “aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Abutilon indicum leaves may be beneficial in the treatment of impaired immunity.”
  The plant has also shown antifungal and anti-bacterial activity although more research is needed to establish the mechanisms of how it works in the human body. However it is clearly a plant that has some excellent health benefits, which have been shown in traditional medicine systems over thousands of years.


  1. This beautiful plant is in our front and back yards. It's exciting to learn of its healing qualities.

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