The sweet violet plant belongs to the same family as the pansy. Both flowers are beautiful and delicate. The difference between them is that the sweet violet has two petals growing up and three down, while the pansy has four up and one down.
In the 15th century B.C., Hippocrates recommended the sweet violet plant for the treatment of migraines. In the early 20th century, they were supposed to heal cancer, which has yet to be proven. This violet is one of the most appreciated pectoral plants in phytotherapy.
Sweet Violet Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Garden violet.
- French: Violette.
- Spanish: Violetta
- Environment: Wet forests and meadows all over Europe. Spread and cultivated in America, the plant is widespread, though not very common.
- Description: Vivacious plant of the Violaceae family, which grows from 5 to 15 cm high. It does not have aerial stems; hence its leaves and flowers grow from a central root in large peduncles. Characteristic violet flowers (more rarely white or pink) with five petals and a strong aroma.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Flowers, leaves, and roots.
Healing Properties and Indications
The whole plant contains saponins (especially its root), with expectorant and diuretic properties; mucilage, with emollient, bechic (antitussive) and laxative properties; salicylic acid, with anti-inflammatory and sudorific properties; coloring substances (anthocyanins), and glycosides, to which it owes its mild diuretic properties, as well as essence in the flowers, which gives the plant its pleasant aroma. The flowers have the following applications:
- Respiratory disorders: Due to their content in saponins, the sweet violet plant flowers make the bronchial secretions more liquid, reduce the congestion of the bronchi, and ease coughing. The mucilage exerts a soothing and anti-inflammatory action on all mucous membranes. The mucilage of the sweet violet acts specifically on the respiratory mucous membranes. The violet is, thus, a beneficial plant in the treatment of bronchial catarrh, bronchitis, tracheitis, and bronchial pneumonia. They also have sudorific properties, therefore being especially recommended when the respiratory afflictions are accompanied by fever, as in influenza. Their mild diuretic and laxative properties are suitable for people suffering from fever.
- Cystitis: The sweet violet plant is recommended in this case due to the anti-inflammatory action exerted by the mucilage on the urinary system.
- Migraines and headaches: It has been successfully used since ancient times, though it is unknown which active principles are responsible for this action. Sweet violet flowers are traditionally applied orally (infusion) and in compresses or fomentations on the forehead.
- Mouth and throat disorders: In external applications, the violet infusion is used to make rinses or gargles in the case of stomatitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth), gingivitis, pharyngitis, tonsilitis, laryngitis, and aphonia.
- It is also applied in eye irrigations for blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and conjunctivitis.
The leaves of the sweet violet plant have similar properties to those of the flowers, though with stronger sudorific, diuretic, and laxative effects. They are usually employed mixed with the flowers.
The roots are rich in saponins, having thus emetic (vomitive) properties. They are administered to induce vomiting for food poisoning or upset stomach.
How to use Sweet Violet
- Infusion with 30-40 g of leaves per liter of water. Drink three to four cups daily. It has a good flavor.
- Violet syrup: The syrup can substitute the infusion, especially when given to children. It is made with 50 g of flowers in cold extract in half a liter of water for 12 hours. After straining, add 200 g of honey, and boil for five minutes. Give from one to three spoonfuls every two hours.
- Vomitive decoction, with 10-20 g of ground root and a quarter-liter of water. Boil until it reduces to a half. Take one spoonful every five minutes until vomiting occurs.
- Root powder, 1-4 g dissolved in half a glass of water. The vomitive effect is more intense.
- The same infusion is used internally in mouth rinses, gargles, eyelid cleansing, or compresses and fomentations.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 344, 345. Print.