Viola (Viola Odorata and Viola Tricolor) are known as sweet violets, miniature pansies, and Johnny-jump-ups. In herbal medicine, the plant is often referred to as heartsease because of its ability to strengthen blood vessels.
Violas are known to have strong anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. The plant is often used to gently stimulate the circulatory and immune systems. Most people can benefit from the cleansing properties of a viola spring-tonic.
Violas make excellent additions to cough syrups. They do not suppress the coughing reflex, but act as a strong expectorant to rid the lungs of phlegm. Viola tinctures are good treatments for colds and bronchitis.
Violas have anti-microbial properties that are excellent treatments for skin problems like boils, abscess, skin ulcers, diaper rashes, varicose veins, and insect bites. Just mash up the leaves and apply as a poultice.
Violas are sometimes used as a laxative and as a remedy for rheumatism. They are also used in gargles for sore throat and mouth infections. Violas are good for treating digestive conditions including stubborn urinary tract infections.
The herb is sometimes used as an anti-tumor remedy. Violas may prove useful in the treatment and prevention of secondary cancer tumors. Preliminary findings suggest that violas contain substances that can help control the growth of breast and lung cancers.
Many poems make mention of the wonderful scent of viola (and violet) flowers. Herb books describe the smell as delicious and sweet. Expensive perfumes list violets as essential ingredients. (Actually, I have never found a wild or cultivated one that has a scent. The blooms may smell faintly of green leaves, but certainly nothing floral or extraordinary. Maybe it’s my nose. Who knows why violets have lost their scent? If anyone has answers please contact me at the email address below.)
Viola flowers do make beautiful garnishes for salads and drinks. Try floating one in a freshly squeezed lemonade or fruit smoothie. They also make elegant cake decorations, especially when sugared.
Violas are one of our most beautiful spring flowers. The blooms come in many color combinations including white, lavender, purple, and every shade of blue. Viola leaves are heart-shaped and deep, rich green. The plants grow in a wide range of conditions but prefer moist, rich soil. They spread rapidly when happy and can crowd out less vigorous plants. Let them have their way as a groundcover and they will produce a fabulous spring display.
For medicinal purposes, harvest viola while flowering in spring. Use the whole plant immediately in a spring tonic or dry completely and store for winter use.
*Large doses of viola may cause nausea and vomiting. Start out with small doses. Always consult with a physician before using any herbal remedy.
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