Crude Fibre Determination of Malva sylvestris L. and Evaluation of its Faecal Bulking and Laxative Properties in Rats

Francesca Busuttil-Griffin, Claire Shoemake, Everaldo Attard, Lilian M. Azzopardi


Malva sylvestris L. or as it is widely known, the common mallow, is a renowned medicinal plant which can be found growing in abundance in Europe, North Africa and Asia. The percentage crude fibre content present in M. sylvestris samples collected from Malta was studied. Variation in crude fibre content with time and location was also considered in this study. Results showed that the percentage stem fibre content (27.61%) significantly (p<0.001) supersedes the percentage content in leaves (6.49%). These values confirm results attained by various authors in similar studies. Statistical analysis demonstrated that the down trending in percentage leaf fibre content observed over the 3-month study period was only statistically significant (p<0.01) for one locality (N=4). In the latter, a significant (p<0.01) dip in fibre content was noted for samples collected in April. Conversely, the percentage stem fibre content increased as the plant matured. This observed increase in stem fibre was statistically significant (p<0.05) for two of the localities (N=4) studied.

The faecal bulking competency of this fibrous plant was studied in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Throughout the study, the control group was fed fibre-free pellets. Whilst the test group, was fed pellets containing 100 g/kg     M. sylvestris ground stems. An increase in faecal weight by 105% and 86% was observed in the test group when compared to the fresh and dry faecal weights of the control group. These findings confirm faecal bulking properties and support the potential use of this plant species as a complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of constipation.

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International Journal of Biology   ISSN 1916-9671(Print)   ISSN 1916-968X  (Online)   Email:

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