Monograph of Viola Species

Viola spp.

Violet commonly known as Heartsease Herb

Family- Violaceae

Energetics of Violet: Cooling, Moistening, Astringent, Bitter (to some), Aromatic (some species more than others)

Vitalist Actions: Mucilaginous, Nutritive, Emollient, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Antiseptic, Expectorant, Anti-oxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-allergenic

*The strength of these actions can differ between species.

Some herbalists suggest Violet is a nervine, however Jim Mcdonald believes this quality comes more from the way violet nourishes, strengthens and soothes. He states he uses Violet to “comfort and strengthen the heart”.

Common Forms & Dosages:

Because of Violet’s gentle nature and nutritive quality it can be taken for long periods of time without any toxicity. The flowering herb of violet is used, both leaf and flower.

Most commonly used in tea form or tincture of the fresh plant.

Used topically in poultices or salves.

Constituents:

Ascorbic Acid commonly known as vitamin C, is an important water soluble antioxidant. Vitamin C occurs and acts with flavonoids to protect plants from photo oxidation and UV damage. In humans it acts as both an enzyme co-factor for collagen synthesis and supports capillary integrity. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the antioxidant system and acts as an enzymatic partner for glutathione; an enzyme that attaches to certain molecules to make them more water soluble so they can be excreted through the urine. Glutathione conjugation plays an important role in both phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification systems. This ultimately making violet a valuable partner to support your daily detox.

High levels of rutin in Violet could contribute to the beneficial aspect to the heart. Rutin is a water soluble glycoside of quercetin (a plant pigment flavonoid). It’s often taken in supplemental form for its effect on the vascular system. Supplementation is intended to strengthen the heart and increase flexibility in the blood vessels. It’s been used in cases of hemorrhoids, spider veins, and bruises.  

Methyl Salicylates is the constituent found in ibuprofen. It’s commonly thought with herbs that contain this constituent that if you drink it, you’ll reduce your aches and pains. However, this logic seems to be too reductionistic and doesn’t always work for everyone.

Clinical Actions:

Violet is used to clear heat inward and outward. It is used for choleric humours and is known as a liver cooling herb. Homer and Virgil used it to moderate anger, a symptom often associated with choleric humours. It is often used when gout, arthritis, or pains of the back or reins is present. It’s cooling and moistening nature is used to cool the heat and quench the thirst. In my own experience this anti-inflammatory effect on the liver can be useful for people with gallbladder issues. When the gallbladder is inflamed the muscles around the right shoulder can become extremely tense. Paired with something like Nepeta cataria (catnip) it can be really useful to ease that muscle tension.

The mucilaginous quality in Violet is nourishing, relaxing and soothing to tissue that is inflamed and dry. Because of it’s additional diuretic action Violet is often used in nephritic diseases, this is inflammation of the kidneys and as well as diseases of the chest. It’s found effective in pleurisy, diseases of the lungs, hoarseness of the throat, sharpness in the urine, and bladder. Professor Scudder states he’s seen violet “stimulate waste and secretion, relieve nervous irritability, and improve nutrition.”

Violet is used for diseases of the skin both internally and topically. Anything from swelling of the eyes, boils, acne, hemorrhoids, inflamed sinuses, or acute congested states when lymph nodes are tender, swollen and seem hot to the touch.

Violet can often be a perfect ally for the pregnant or postpartum woman. It’s nutritive and mucilaginous quality is beneficial to both in supporting the mother’s health by nourishing her as well as keeping her tissues moist and hydrated (something new moms tend to experience particularly if breastfeeding) It’s a remedy that has an affinity for breast tissue as well. Although some don’t find it to be a very strong lymphatic herb, I’ve found it’s lymphatic quality to be quite beneficial in preventing clogged milk ducts, used as either tea, tincture or medicinal oils. In many cases it can be effective for mastitis as well, particularly at the onset. You can enhance the lymphatic decongestant, and immune stimulant action by adding Echinacea spp. Nicholas Culpeper says that it should “eseth pains in the head from wanting sleep” During the postpartum period sleep depravity and dehydration are common and headaches are often associated with this.

Michael Moore says that violet is slightly laxative, however some say this quality is due to the mucilaginous action of the herb, it helps bulk stools and promote lucidity through the intestines. Either way because of it’s gentle nature the syrup of violet flower is used for infants with constipation. It can be ingested by breastfeeding mama or given in tea for to a child that is drinking water.

Has a long traditional use of being used for cancer. This has more to do with the action of the herb ( it’s anti-inflammatory and supports detoxification) rather than the herb being “anti-canter”. There is some indication in old information about dissolving “tumors” or growths on the body. It was used in oil and tallow with beeswax and rubbed on the body.

Precautions & Contraindications:

This species is threatened in certain areas of the U.S- look at plant savers to see if it’s near you.

There are some violet look alikes that are toxic. Be sure to identify the correct species when foraging.

Violet can be sensitive to degradation be aware of this when drying and storing the herb.



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