Spring has just begun in the U.K. and when I was walking into the town of Hurstpierpoint I found a small field with beautiful Sweet Violets scattered delicately amongst the grass. These Sweet Violets have five small deep purple petals but they can be light purple, blue, yellowish or white. They have heart-shaped leaves that are dark green, smooth with slightly serrated edges that grow in a radial arrangement at the base of the plant. The roots of the Violet send out runners and new plants come from these. They have a lovely smell and are quite fragrant hence the name botanical name odorata.
For such a tiny little herb it has the capacity to treat a wide range of ailments. A tea, decoction for roots, syrup or tincture can be made from the whole plant and used for respiratory complaints such as coughs, bronchitis and Pertussis. The leaves are especially high in vitamin C, twice as much as oranges w/w, and vitamin A, equal to that of spinach w/w, according to a study by Erichsen-Brown, 1979. The leaves and flowers, when made into a tea, can be used as a gargle for sore throats and gums. Sweet violet is an excellent blood purifier and has been used to treat skin conditions such as pimples, eczema, psoriasis and acne. A decoction of the roots makes a wonderful expectorant and the dried aerial parts can also be used for Rheumatic complaints and cystitis.
Sweet Violet tea, made from the dried aerial parts can also be calming and is particularly useful for insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, dizziness and headaches. The flowers and seeds have a mile laxative quality but the root in large doses acts as an emetic (cause vomiting). Sweet Violet also contains salicylic acid and can be helpful when treating body aches and pains, inflammation and as a preventative for blood clotting.
This tiny herb has amazing properties and a recent study found that the extract of Viola odorata had chemoprotective and anti-cancer properties that gave better results in experiments on mice than the anti-tumor drugs that are used currently in clinic (Lindholm et al.,2002)
What an important herb.
Sweet Violet Tea
2-3 teaspoons of the fresh violet flowers and leaves that have been chopped into smaller pieces.
300 ml of boiling water
1 Teapot and a cup.
Place all the ingredients into the teapot, pour in the boiling water and allow to sit for 20 minutes, covered, strain and drink or gargle, in the case of a sore throat or gums, and spit out.