Violet, Viola odorata, as a favorite herb of renowned American herbalist Susun Weed, so I'll be drawing heavily from her book Healing Wise to highlight some of violet's magic. Susun highlights violets as an alterative, dissolvent, mucilaginous, emollient, expectorant and anodyne medicine. Let's dive into what those plant actions mean.
Alterative medicines are those which work on the whole body, supporting multiple systems and bringing about a subtle overall change for the better.
Dissolvent qualities mean that violet is helpful in dissolving blockages in the body. For a person dealing with cysts, stones, tumors, or other growths, violet can be a useful ally. This action is likely linked to the high salicylic acid content in violet's leaves.
Mucilaginous plants contain mucilage, it may surprise you to know. That means these plants contain saponins, which make them slick and soapy when macerated (crushed). If you pluck a violet leaf and crush it in your hands, you'll see immediately how plentiful the mucilage is. Now imagine that in your body, soothing and smoothing out rough edges and raw spots (which is what emollient means), cooling inflammation and pain (anodyne), and un-sticking any manner of gunk from your respiratory, digestive, and genito-urinary tracts in particular. Speaking of which:
Expectorant qualities are also present in violet, which means this plant can help move mucous out of the lungs and sinuses. Susun Weed uses it specifically when mucous is "thick, yellow, sticky and rattling" (245).
I wanted to highlight violet right now because this is a peak spring and summer herb, and it doesn't need any processing to enjoy. In the spring you can identify Viola easily from its sweet purple flowers; now that it's high summer, the flowers are gone but the leaves, with their recognizable heart-shape, are abundant. Just remember to pay attention to where you're picking. Avoid trail-sides where dogs might have been, and pick at least eight feet back from roads where cars travel often. Enjoy the gifts of violet all summer by adding the leaves to your salads at dinner. Be well!
Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman
Healing Wise, Susun Weed
Legalese: In our society, only MDs get to say they are "treating" disease. As such, this blog post has not been analyzed by the FDA, and the advice within has not been scientifically proven to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Please see a health practitioner for medical treatment.