Viola or Violets, are types of small wild pansies from the Violaceae family. Some Viola species are either perennial, annual or are small shrubs, including wild, cultivated and hybrid species. The colours of the flowers range from violet, through shades of blue, white, yellow and cream, whilst some types are bicolored, often blue and yellow.
The flowers, leaves and roots of Viola are used for medicinal purposes. They are rich in Vitamin C and A. And a great antioxidant called anthocyanin. “Most violas and many plants of the Violaceae plant family contain cyclotides, which have a diverse range of in vitro biological activities when isolated from the plant, including uterotonic, anti-HIV, antimicrobial, and insecticidal activities.” (1)
It also contains the phytochemical rutin, which aids neutralisation of damaging free radicals, which help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer. It also strengthens blood capillaries, is an anti-inflamatory and may also help prevent antherogenic heart disease by reducing, toxicity to oxidized LDL cholesterol.
In the 16th century, the English used syrups made from violets for their laxative properties. Violet remedies were also used for pleurisy, epilepsy, and jaundice. Hippocrates, in the ancient times, classified the violet as best used for treating liver disorders as well as bad tempers.
Viola contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. The salicylic acid in violets is a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory; it helps people reduce the discomfort associated with arthritis and other discomfort that is felt in the joints. James A Duke a herbalist stated that “this compound prevents ‘leakage’ from the blood vessels resulting in less swelling in pain, which benefits people who suffer from inflammation.”
A paste made of crushed leaves and a small amount of water may relieve headaches and neck pain when applied externally to the painful areas. Syrup made of viola leaves and flowers treats respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, coughs and colds. Viola tea is also reported to reduce fever and ease irritated throats that can accompany colds. Dry root tea is said to be an effective treatment for constipation.
Avoid wild gathering. Some are endangered species and others are posionous. Be safe and grow your own herbs in your own garden or in pots on your kitchen window sill.
(1) David J. Craik.,"Discovery and applications of the plant cyclotides" Toxicon Volume 56, Issue 7, 15 December 2010, Pages 1092-1102
(2) Gerlach S.L., Burman R., Bohlin L., Mondal D., Göransson U. "Isolation, characterization, and bioactivity of cyclotides from the micronesian plant psychotria