Violet Leaves, Viola odorate
Violets are welcome in my garden. Not only are they lovely, but they are useful as a medicinal herb. The leaves and flowers of many violets are edible, but the yellow species are questionable by some. Most herbalist say that all violets are serviceable. The leaves and flowers can be used in teas, tinctures, syrups, and other herbals.
Violets are native to most parts of the world. The Viola genus contains around 550 species, mostly found in the temperate climates of the world. It is a common sight in lawns, gardens, sidewalk cracks and along trails. The common blue violet is typically considered a “weed” because of its relative ease in adapting to human disturbance, but it pushes the definition because it has been on this continent for a very long time. Some woodland species of violet are rare and should not be disturbed.
Violet’s Edible Uses
Enjoy violet leaves and flowers in salad, pesto, and in sandwiches and wraps. The roots of most violet species can cause nausea and vomiting, and should not be eaten. The leaves and flowers can be harvested throughout the spring until the leaves become too fibrous. They will often make a comeback in the fall, with a flush of tender new growth. Violet leaves can be sautéed or steamed. Stir them into soups as a nutrient-dense thickener. The flowers make a lovely garnish, sprinkle them on salads and add them to cakes and pancakes. Violet flowers are also beautiful when candied or frozen into ice cubes.
Violet’s Medicinal Uses
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers; aboveground parts in flower
Medicinal Preparations: Infusion, syrup, honey, vinegar, poultice, compress, salve, and infused oil
- Vulnerary (promotes wound healing)
- Mild laxative
Violet is cooling and moistening and is used internally as a blood cleanser, respiratory remedy, and lymphatic stimulant. It is taken as a tea or syrup, and can also be eaten for its medicine. The exact dosage is not especially important since it can safely be consumed in large quantities. As a gentle food herb, violet is generally safe for elders, youngsters, and people who are taking pharmaceuticals.
Medicinally, violet is a gentle but potent remedy. It is classified as an alterative (or “blood purifier”), which means it helps the body restore optimal functioning by aiding metabolic processes, especially the elimination of waste products. Violet stimulates the lymphatic glands, helping the body get rid of bacteria and other toxins. It is especially useful for swollen glands. Over time, violet can help clear stubborn problems like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Taking Violet after a long winter is a wonderful way to get our bodies ready for a healthy and energetic spring.
Violet also supports the immune system, helping to clear infections of all kinds. Soothing and cooling, it helps reduce fever and inflammation. It can be useful in treating sinus infections, bronchitis, sore throats and coughs.
Violet leaves can even help to shrink tumors and cancers. They are most effective when taken both internally and used externally as a poultice. They are also helpful in clearing up other growths and lumps such as cysts, mastitis, and fibrocystic breasts. See my recipe for a breast oil and salve using violet leaves HERE
Violet leaves contain a good bit of mucilage, or soluble fiber, and thus are helpful in lowering cholesterol levels (similar to oatmeal). Soluble fiber is also helpful in restoring healthy populations of intestinal flora, as beneficial bacteria feed off of this type of fiber. The leaves are high in Vitamins A and C, and rutin, which is a glycoside of the flavonoid quercetin. Rutin has been shown in animal and in vitro studies to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood thinning.
Topically, violet is used as a poultice, compress, infused oil, and salve for dry or chafed skin, abrasions, insect bites, eczema, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is cooling, soothing, and anti-inflammatory.
You can buy my Breast Salve HERE. Can be used for the list above as well.
You can also use dried violet leaves and they are available in our shop HERE
Safety & Contraindications: Avoid internal use with individuals who have the rare inherited disorder G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency, because it can aggravate hemolytic anemia.