Althea hemp (Althaea sannabina); Hemp altea
Perennial herbaceous pubescent rough plant of the mallow family. The stem is erect, branched, 60-150 cm tall. Leaves alternate, long-petiolate, finger-5-dissected, with narrow-lanceolate lobes; the upper leaves are divided into 3 narrow, oblong, pointed lobes with unequal-sized pollen grains along the edge. The flowers are regular, bisexual, single or 2 in leaf axils, on long stems; petals are pink, dark red at the base, 2-3 times longer than the calyx. The fruit consists of numerous carpels-seeds arranged in a ring. Blooms in June – September.
Distribution . Althea hemp occurs on meadows, on shrubs, on rocky slopes and limestone outcrops in the foothills and mountainous areas and on the southern coast of Crimea, in the steppe and in the southern areas of the forest-steppe.
Roots are used for medicinal purposes. The plant is harvested starting from the age of two, in autumn, after the above-ground part has died. The dug roots are immediately washed with cold running water, dried, the bark is removed from them and cut lengthwise into 2-4 parts. Then the obtained raw materials are quickly dried under shelter in the air or in a dryer at a temperature of 30-35°C. Store in dry, well-ventilated areas. The shelf life of raw materials is up to 3 years.
Althea roots contain a large amount of mucilage (up to 35%), starch (37%), sugar (8%) and many other complex organic substances, including a small amount of essential oil.
Medicinal properties of altea have been known since ancient times. Avicenna also recommended drinking a decoction of plant roots for bladder stones and tumors. Preparations obtained from the roots of the plant have a softening, expectorant, enveloping and anti-inflammatory effect. Roots are used in scientific and folk (long ago!) medicine in the form of decoctions and infusions for diseases of the respiratory system (bronchitis, tracheitis, pharyngitis, inflammation of the lungs, bronchial asthma, whooping cough), stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastritis and diarrhea. Eczema and psoriasis are treated with the infusion and extract of the plant (taken internally). In folk medicine, in addition, a decoction of the roots is used for diseases of the urinary tract and kidneys, for rinsing the mouth cavity and washing the eyes for various inflammatory phenomena.
Althea is widely used in dietary nutrition – mucous decoctions are prepared from it, which have a beneficial effect on the work of the gastrointestinal tract in the case of relevant diseases. Root plants are also included in therapeutic breast teas.
Althea is a wonderful honey plant. In the southern regions of Russia, its honey productivity in the second year is about 400 kg from 1 hectare of plantations. Bees visit the flowers of the plant well, collecting not only nectar, but also light yellow pollen.
Decoction of roots. 2 tablespoons of crushed dry althea roots per 200 ml of boiling water. Heat in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes, cool, filter and wring out, add warm boiled water to the original volume. Drink the decoction warm (30-35 °C) 1/2-1/3 cup 3-4 times a day after meals.