BALA

Also Known As
Country Mallow
Flannel Leaf
Flannel Weed
Heart-Leaf Sida
Heartleaf
Silky White Mallow
White Mallow
INDIA [BENGALI]:
Brela
INDIA [GUAJARATI]:
Junglimethi
INDIA [MAHARASTRA]:
Chikana
INDIA [MALAYALAM]:
Velluram
INDIA [PUNJAB]:
Simak
INDIA [SANSKRIT]:
Bala
INDIA [HINDI]:
Kungyi
INDIA [TAMIL]:
Mayir-manikham
OTHER INDIAN REGIONAL NAMES:
Bariar
Batyalaka
Beejband
Bijband
Brela
Chikana
Chiribenda
Chitimutti
Hettuti-gida
Janglimethi
Kharenti
Khareti
Kisangi
Kungyi
Mayir-manikham
Muttuva
Paniyar-tutti
Simak
Tupkaria
Tutturabenda
Velluram
ALSO
Abutilon en Épi 
Bariar, Guimauve 
Herbe de Douze Heures 
Indian Chikana 
Khareti 
Malva Blanca (Brazil) 
Malva-Branca 
Malva-Branca-Sedosa 
Mauve Blanc 
Mauve du Pays 
Vatya 
... damn, that sure is a long list of names. 
BALA OIL: The famous oil in Ayurvedic medicine is derived from the roots and is known as 
- Narayana Taila or
- Bala Siddha Taila


Order:   Malvales
Family:   Malvaceae
Genus:    Sida
Species: cordifolia

Florida n c s

Edible Parts
Leaf Caution
Animal Interaction
Butterfly
Other Uses
Mug Medicinal Cordage
This non-native wireweed species is common across most of Florida. This particular species has unusually soft and velvety leaves, hence one of the common names, Flannel Leaf. Even the calyces are hairy. Take the time to appreciate the very pretty yellow flowers which often have orange centers. THE FDA OUTLAWED THIS HERB IN 2004 DUE TO ITS EPHEDRINE CONTENT. That said, herbalists still use it to treat coughs, bronchial issues, asthma, wheezing, nasal congestion, etc. Before it was outlawed, I harvested the leaves and dried them to make a stimulating tea that I would rank as one of my favorites. There is a background flavor that I adore, sort of cocoa-like. I feel that it should not have been banned. Plant medicines, left to the people, become an integral part of being human, what ALL of our ancestors ALL knew intimately. Herbalists should be active in every community. Follow your own path. I do agree that certain people should avoid taking this tea as it contains the alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which are contraindicated for pregnant women, those with heart issues, pacemakers, people in a weakened condition, nursing mothers, and a whole bunch of others. It is known as Bala in Sanskrit, in its native India, and this is how I refer to the plant. The seeds and roots, and to a lesser degree the leaves, have long been used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine. Externally, this herb has been made into healing salves and massage oils to treat muscle cramps, wounds, nerve pain, numbness, etc. Narayana Taila, aka Bala Oil, is the famous Ayurvedic oil made from the roots of Bala. I would love to see some Florida herbalists make such topical applications. In the fields, butterflies like to nectar at the pretty flowers. I often notice that Zebra Swallowtails are especially fond of the nectar. 

CAUTION: THE FDA OUTLAWED THIS HERB IN 2004 DUE TO ITS EPHEDRINE CONTENT. Avoid taking this herb as it contains ephedrine compounds which are contraindicated for pregnant women, those with heart issues, pacemakers, people in a weakened condition, nursing mothers, those with high blood pressure, prostate or thyroid problems, anxiety, etc. ONLY USE IT UNDER THE DIRECTION OF A TRAINED HERBALIST, AND NOT IN THE UNITED STATES. SIDE EFFECTS: ”Sida cordifolia, when used excessively, can cause ephedrine related side effects like insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, and increase in blood pressure, memory loss or even stroke.” [3] “Ephedrine coupled with caffeine can prove fatal.”[3]
MEDICINAL USES: READ CAUTION ABOVECAUTION: From Webmed: it “contains ephedrine, which is an amphetamine-like stimulant (usually found in Ephedra species) that can cause harmful side effects, including “psychostimulant properties, affecting the central nervous system and also the heart.  “Recent analyses have revealed that ephedrine and pseudoephedrine constitute the major alkaloids from the aerial parts of the plant.”  Since April, 2004 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned ephedra, Sida cordifolia, and other products that contain ephedrine.”  It has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is known as Bala, and is said to “alleviate vata and pitt dosha.”  “It is an aphrodisiac, rejuvenative, & tonic.  It strengthens the body, cures epipstaxis, diabetes, menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, uterine weakness, paralysis and facial paralysis.  The seeds and roots are used most often, the leaves being used less for medicine.  Webmd: “Despite serious safety concerns, (it) is used to treat bronchial asthma, tuberculosis, colds, flu, swine flu, chills, lack of perspiration, headaches, nasal congestion, cough and wheezing, urinary infections, sore mouth, and fluid retention.  It is also used for heart disease, stroke, tissue pain and swelling (inflammation), sciatic nerve pain, insanity, nerve pain, nerve inflammation (found to contain an analgesic alkaloid), ongoing achy joints (chronic rheumatism), unwanted weight loss,” “before and after cancer chemotherapy to speed recovery from the treatment,” as a stimulant, painkiller, & to increase urine flow. .  In combination, it treats many other ailments, including weight loss & bronchitis.  Some experts say that it “is best used for obesity.”
- BRAZIL AND AFRICA: Also used in Brazilian & African folk medicine for various ailments. 
MEDICINAL ACTIONS: It is said to be “most effective as an antibiotic and vulnerary, highly effective as an antiarthritic and nervine, and effective as an adaptogenic, analgesic, anthelmintic,” and many other properties. [2] 
MEDICINAL SEEDS: “The seeds as considered as aphrodisiac.” [3]
MEDICINAL BARK: “Bark - Considered as cooling. It is useful in blood, throat, urinary system related troubles, piles, phthisis, insanity, etc.” [3]
MEDICINAL ROOTS: “The root infusion is given in nervous and urinary diseases and also in disorders of the blood and bile.” [3] “Roots -It is regarded as cooling, astringent, stomachic, and tonic, aromatic, bitter, diuretic.” [3]
ALKALOID CONTENT: The Chrysalis Natural Medicine Clinic writes, "The amount of total alkaloids in [the] Bala plant by average dry weight is 1/15th of that found in ephedra.  Bala seeds, usually not commercially available, contain about four times as much of the alkaloids, about 1/4 of that found in ephedra, and so should not be used unless under the care of a professional health care provider (reported in Kapoor, 1990; reported in Huang, 1999).” “The quantities are low, with less than 2% of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine found in the leaves of Sida cordifolia.” [3] 
—EXTERNAL MEDICINAL USES: Webmd: Externally, it “is applied directly to the skin for numbness, nerve pain, muscle cramps, skin disorders, tumors, joint diseases, wounds, ulcers, scorpion sting, snakebite, and as a massage oil.” Herbpathy lists it as being “super effective” at treating wounds. “Sida cordifolia oils are used topically to the sore muscles and sore joints in rheumatism and arthritis with the crushed leaves can be carried out a cataplasm to alleviate local pains and because of its astringent value for the cure of external wounds or imperfections of the skin.” [3] “Externally, the medicated oil of Bala, Bala Siddha Taila, is massaged to alleviate pain and swelling in vata disorders. The paste of its leaves is applied in ophthalmic diseases and for wound dressing. In children, the famous oil preparation of bala – Candan bala laksadi taila is used for massage in muscular weakness.” [3]
BALA OIL IN INDIA: “Bala root is a major ingredient is the famous medicinal oil called Narayana Taila.” The oil extracted by the infusion of” Bala “is known as Bala Oil.” It “is a popular massage oil in Ayurveda.” Herbpathy writes, “The oil strengthens the nerves and the muscles. It supports the joints by improving the health of the ligaments and the tendons. Bala Oil is a potent remedy when dealing with conditions like paralysis, paraplegia and hemiplegia.”   
A DETAILED ONLINE ARTICLE: “Sida cordifolia – An Overview,” an online pdf article from the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science can be found at: http://japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/16_pdf.pdf
FURTHER RESEARCH: There is much information available online, should you wish to look into this medicinal herb further.
CORDAGE: The stems may be made into string and rope. 
WILDLIFE: Butterflies, especially Zebra Swallowtails, love to nectar at the flowers. 

—NATIVE TO: India.  Naturalized in throughout the world.  Invasive in parts of Africa, Australia, Hawaii, New Guinea, French Polynesia, and parts of the southeastern U.S, including most of Florida.  
—DESCRIPTION: Erect perennial subshrub.
- HEIGHT: 20 – 79 inches tall.
- STEMS: “Yellow-green, hairy, long, and slender.” 
- LEAVES: Yellow-green, oblong-ovate, 1.4 – 3 inches long, covered with “soft white felt-like hair that is responsible for one of its common names, flannel weed.” 
- FLOWERS: “Flowers are dark yellow, (often) with a darker orange center, with a hairy 5-lobed calyx and 5-lobed corolla.” 

More Details

Flower Color
Yellow

Habitat
Pine Flatwood Disturbed Fields
Native?
Non-Native
Height
7 feet
Width
2 feet



References

[1] Chrysalis Natural Medicine Clinic 
[2] Herbpathy
[3] “Sida cordifolia – An Overview,” a deatailed online pdf article from the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science 
[4] WebMD 
Last Updated: October 28, 2017

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