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Violet: Viola odorata contains mucilage and salicylic acid, and this makes it a cooling, soothing remedy that is gently relaxing and slightly laxative...

Common Names: Violet, Sweet Violet

Botanical Name: Viola odorata

Family: Violaceae

Plant Type: Perennial

Parts Used: Flowers and leaves

Flowering: March to May

There are more than 500 species of violets worldwide, including more than 60 in North America. The sweet-scented violet appears at the end of April and has finished blooming by the end of May.

Description: The leaves are heart-shaped and slightly downy. The flower-stalks arise from the axils of the leaves and bear single flowers. The flowers are generally deep purple, but some varieties are lilac, pale rose-coloured or white. Violets have five petals and the spur, formed by the two side petals, points upward.

Cultivation: Violets are perennial and hardy to zone 5. They prefer a rich, moist humous, acidic to neutral pH, in full to part shade. They are often found growing wild in wooded areas. There are many cultivars of Viola, but it is the wild ones that are best for healing purposes.

Harvesting: Collect the leaves and flowers when they are fresh in the spring, and make sure that they are dry, or the scent will be lost.

Culinary Uses: Candied violets are often used as garnishes for sweet desserts and fruit dishes. Violet water is used to flavor tea breads, jellies, jams, and cold soups.

Violet Magick

Protection. Luck. Love. Lust. Wishes. Peace. Healing.

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

If you gather the first violet of spring your dearest wish will be granted.

Mixed with lavender, they are a powerful love stimulant and also arouse lust.

A necklace made from violets prevents drunkenness and ensures you hear only the truth.

Violets fashioned into a wreath or garland and placed on the head cure headaches and dizziness.

The leaves worn in a green sachet help wounds to heal and prevent evil spirits from making the wounds worse.

When the flowers are carried they offer protection against “wykked sperytis” and bring changes in luck and fortune.

Herbal Healing with Violet

Medicinal Actions: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, calmative, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypnotic, laxative, liver decongestant, pectoral, sedative, stimulant (circulatory system), uplifting, vulnerary

Medicinal Uses: In modern herbalism, it is used mainly as a cough remedy. Violet is a soothing expectorant useful in treating a wide range of respiratory infections. It is especially good in cough syrups for children. The best form of administration is the Syrup of Violets. Together with herbs like elecampane (Inula), thyme (Thymus) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza), it makes a good antidote to a sore, irritated throat.

Externally, V. odorata was thought to have the power to soften and reduce swellings, including cancerous tumors, and is still used for mastitis, cysts, and tumors in the breasts. It can be applied as a poultice, or be taken internally with herbs like sage (Salvia), dandelion root (Taraxacum), cleavers (Galium) and yellow cedar (Thuja).

Apply violet poultices to relieve feverish or hang-over headaches, and to help heal sore, cracked nipples. The flowers have a slight sedative effect.

Caution: Roots and seeds on large doses may cause vomiting.

Preparations and Dosages:

Violet Infusion: The infusion is generally drunk cold and is made as follows: Take 2 1/2 ounces of Violet leaves, freshly picked. Wash them clean in cold water and place them in a stone jar and pour over them 1 pint of boiling water. Tie the jar down and let it stand for twelve hours, till the water is green. Then strain off the liquid into a well-stoppered bottle and the tea is ready for drinking cold at intervals of every two hours during the day, taking a wineglassful at a time till the whole has been consumed each day. It is essential that the tea be made fresh every day and kept in a cool place to prevent it turning sour. If any should be left over it should be thrown away.

As a cure for cancer of the tongue, it is recommended to drink half this quantity daily at intervals and apply the rest in hot applications of the warm liquid on the surface of the tongue.

Hot Compress: For external use, dip a piece of cotton cloth into the warm infusion, made the same strength as the tea. Wrap the cloth around or over the affected part and cover with an oilskin or waterproof cover. Change the cloth when dry or cold. Use flannel, not oilskin, for open wounds. If the wet compress causes undue irritation of the skin, remove at once and substitute the following compress or poultice: Chop some fresh-gathered young Violet leaves, without stems, and cover with boiling water. Stand in a warm place for a quarter of an hour and add a little crushed linseed.

Concentrated Preparation: Put as many Violet leaves in a saucepan as can boil in the water. Boil for 1/2 hour, then strain, squeezing tightly. Evaporate this decoction to one-fourth its bulk and add alcohol (spirits of wine 1 in 15); 1 1/2 ounces or 3 tablespoons of spirits of wine will keep 24 ounces for a month. This syrupy product is stated to be extremely efficacious, applied two or three times a day, or more, on cotton-wool about the throat.

For lubricating the throat, dry and powder Violet leaves and let them stand in olive oil for six hours in a water bath. Make strong. It will keep any time.

Violet Ointment: This is an old-fashioned Herbal remedy: Place 2 ounces of the best lard in a jar in the oven till it becomes quite clear. Then add about thirty-six fresh Violet leaves. Stew them in the lard for an hour till the leaves are the consistency of cooked cabbage. Strain and when cold put into a covered pot for use. It is good as an application for superficial nodules or swelling in the glands of the neck, along with drinking Violet Leaves Tea.

Syrup of Violets

To 1 lb. of Sweet Violet flowers freshly picked, add 2 1/2 pints of boiling water, infuse these for twenty-four hours in a glazed china vessel, then pour off the liquid and strain it gently through muslin; afterward add double its weight of the finest loaf sugar and make it into a syrup, but without letting it boil.

Source: A Modern Herbal by M. Grieve is free to access and use.
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