Genus and Species
Viola odorata (odor), Anchietea salutaris, Hybanthus ipecacuanha, Hybanthus parviflorus, Viola arvensis, Viola cucullata, Viola pedata, Viola tricolor
Blue violet, Bird's-foot violet; Sweet violet, Sweet-scented violet
Sweet, Slightly Salty
Degree of Action
Heat, Stagnation, Atrophy
Salicylic Acid, Saponins (roots), Mucilage, Flavanoids (quercitin and rutin), Alkaloids, (scopoletin, violin), Volitile Oils
Moistening, Cooling, MucilagenousProperties: Lymphatic, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, emetic (in high doses), emollient, antitussive, antibacterial
Violet seeds and roots contain emetine which acts as an emetic and causes vomiting when used is large doses. Thus, it is recommended to only use the flowers and leaves.
Infusion: Cold maceration of the fresh flowers and leaves for 8 hours helps to ensure the properties of this delicate flower are preserved. This can be gently warmed and taken as a tea 4-8 oz three times daily.To enjoy violet tea anytime of the year, use 1 teaspoon dried violets and/or leaves to 1 cup of boiling water and let steep 15 minutes. For inflamed respiratory tract use 1 tsp marshmallow, 1 tsp violet and ¼ teaspoon licorice per 1 cup boiling water.For Fun: Add violets to your salad, pancakes and muffins, ice cubes and anything else that beckons a splash of spring color and fun. Decorate your plate with them! Experience this gentle powerhouse of an herb.
Lymphatic stagnation especially in the breasts, throat and ears; dryness of the upper respiratory tract – including dry cough, sore throat and sinus catarrh; general inflammation and inflamed eyes; mild constipation
Violet has been used for centuries as a common medicinal herb. This gentle and dainty flower grows vigorously in Europe, North America and North Africa under shady trees, in meadows and in woodland areas. There are over 500 known species. Violet odora is the common type of violet used in Europe for both medicine and perfume making. Violets makes their appearance in the spring with a brief encore again in late summer. As I look outside my front window each spring I am mesmerized by a yard bespeckled with the brilliant purples hues of these hardy yet gentle plants. Last year my daughter and I spent an afternoon harvesting the flowers of our native blue sororia as well as a few of a variety streaked with blue and white. Heart shaped leaved give us an indication that this plant may well be good for the heart and cardiovascular system and, indeed, being high in rutin, vitamin C, and vitamin A, the leaves have been used historically for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The greeks used it for a cardiotonic. Just a taste of the leaf will give you a sense of its cooling mucilage as you feel a bit of slipperiness on your tongue.
Culpepper (1616-1654) stated that the flowers of white violets ripen and dissolve swelling and are used to cool the heat and quench the thirst. Violet is also antitussive due its high saponin content. It’s cooling, moistening properties has make it a valuable respiratory medicine, especially to those experiencing a dry hacking cough, a sore throat or the dry inflammation indicative of bronchitis. It also acts as an expectorant in cases of excess mucus and is especially helpful for sinus infections. The markets in Bengal sell the whole violet plant in a dried form and use it as a diaphoretic to help reduce fevers. Because of it’s malic-acid and quercitin content it is also bacteriocidal. We all of the above components we can u--nderstand why it has been used for all ailments of the respiratory tract (Culpepper 1616-1654) and how using a bit of violet in a tea could help bring comfort to someone dealing with an acute respiratory condition. Have you ever pulled up the roots of the violet, they look like a mass of lymph nodules. Here too, violet does not fail us as it has been used to move stagnant lymph, especially around the area of the ears and throat and the breasts. Both Native Americans and European herbalists have a long history of using violet in the treatment of breast cancer. It has been also used successfully in cancers of the skin, lymph and lungs. In conditions of the skin it was traditionally used both internally as a tea or tincture as well as topically as a poultice, salve or oil. Skin conditions that are dry, such as eczema, also benefit from violet’s moistening energetics.Violet flowers and leaves were traditionally made into a tasty syrup for medicinal use. This was given to babies and children as a mild laxative. Violet is noted for its calming effect on the nervous system as well. It would marry well with other calming herbs such as blue vervain, skullcap or linden to cool and soothe an anxious nervous system.
One study showed a viola extract inhibited proliferation of activated lymphocytes (Hillinger 2014) and negatively affected other hyper responsive immune function.
“Violet's Edible and Medicinal Uses.” Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, 16 Oct. 2019, https://chestnutherbs.com/violets-edible-and-medicinal-uses/.Academy, Posted ByHerbal. “The Virtues of Violets: Health Benefits of Violets.” Herbal Academy, 25 Jan. 2018, https://theherbalacademy.com/health-benefits-of-violets/.Editorial. “Violet Properties.” Botanical Online, 3 Apr. 2019, https://www.botanical-online.com/Violet.htm.“Viola.-Violet.” Viola.-Violet. | Henriette's Herbal Homepage, https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/viola.html.Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal, a Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books, 2008.
Qasemzadeh, Mohammad Javad, et al. “The Effect of Viola Odorata Flower Syrup on the Cough of Children With Asthma.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, vol. 20, no. 4, June 2015, pp. 287–291., doi:10.1177/2156587215584862