There is something so sweet and pleasant about being around the lovely woodland violet (also commonly referred to as blue violet, although the flowers may vary in color). The heart shaped leaves and cute little flowers are quite delicious and sweet, complimenting salads, meals, baked goods and desserts. They also have wonderful healing and medicinal benefits and are very nourishing, high in various vitamins and minerals.
Just to clarify, woodland violet is very different than the common household plant, African Violet, which is not in the violet family and is not edible or medicinal. All true species of violets are considered medicinal and include the following botanical names:
Viola odorata, Viola tricolor (Pansey), Viola yezoinsis, Viola spp.,
They grow well under the shade of trees and other plants, in woodland forests and damp meadows. They make a beautiful addition as a border in a garden bed or as a ground cover along landscaped or wild pathways and trails. Their flowers can vary in color, ranging from blue and purples to light pink, yellow or white. This sweet plant brings a heart-felt and fairy-like presence to any garden and forest.
Harvesting & Drying Violet
If the plants are small, then just graze and harvest a few leaves from every plant. If the ground is covered with numerous violet plants, then you can take some shears or scissors and cut sections of the leaves which helps to thin the plants for more growth.
Use the fresh leaves and flowers in culinary preparations, tea infusions, tinctures, vinegar infusions, oxymels, syrups, etc. Or dry the leaves and flowers by spreading them in a light layer in a basket in a cool, dry and well ventilated area to wilt, rotating the plant material 1-2 times daily. Once fully dried, store the leaves in a jar. I like to keep the leaves whole so I can appreciate their heart shape when I use them and so the medicine stays stronger longer. (Medicinal properties of plants can dissipate when chopped or ground down.)
Medicinal Benefits and Uses of Violet
Highly Nourishing Edible
Violet leaves have been used as an edible green for centuries and recent studies now show the medicinal strength and nutritional density
of this gentle and delicate plant. It is very high in vitamins A & C, calcium and magnesium. The whole plant is edible but the roots should be eaten sparingly as they can be emetic in high doses (in other words, if you eat lots of violet roots, they can make you vomit). Use the fresh leaves as you would any green but I personally like to eat it in raw salads and avoid cooking it which damages its vitamin C. The flowers can be sprinkled over salads, desserts, jello, pudding, etc. The cute blue flowers can be used for decorating baked goods and they especially pop against white frosting. The flowers do tend to fade quickly after being picked so they can be candied to preserve their shape and color.
"As far back as 1885, a study compared violet leaf vitamin C content to that of oranges and vitamin A content to that of spinach. From the basal leaves, if collected in spring, this early research reported that violets contain twice as much vitamin C as the same weight of orange and more than twice the amount of vitamin A, gram for gram, when compared with spinach!
(Erichsen-Brown, 1979)." [ii]
Violets are probably most well-known for their powerful lymphatic actions which can stimulate and break up lymph congestion and reduce lymphatic swelling. This is one of the reasons it is commonly used in spring detox blends, cold and flu blends, respiratory and cough blends and to help dissolve and clear out cysts and tumors, especially in the breasts and arm pits.
"Herbalist Matthew Wood recommends a fresh poultice of leaves and flowers for cancers of the lymphatic system, breasts, lungs, and skin. I've heard many stories of oil infused with fresh violets being used for dissolving lumps of the breast or simply as a preventive."[iii]
~Rosalee de la Foret
Violet helps to relieve signs of dryness and heat and is known to help reduce arthritic pain and inflammation. Topically, it soothes red, hot, dry and inflamed skin.
Demulcent and Emollient
Violet's mucilaginous quality helps to moisturize, sooth, coat and protect internal tissues as well as the skin. This quality benefits sore throats, colds, flu, dry coughs, respiratory infections, IBS, and constipation as well as inflamed skin and scalp conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, cradle cap, dandruff, etc.
Violets are a very gentle nervine. Drinking a cup of tea or eating some leaves and flowers can sooth nervous tension and anxiety especially if affects the heart (i.e. elevated heartbeat, heart palpitations, tight constricted feeling in the chest, etc.). This plant is not sedating and can be used to take the edge off and unwind as needed.
Emotional and Physical Heart
The heart shaped leaves are a doctrine of signature indicating the physical and emotional benefits of using violet for the heart. Violet is high in a constituent called
which is known to help strengthen capillaries and prevent platelet aggregation.
Another name for violet is hearts-ease and it has been traditionally used to sooth any emotional heart ache especially if it is accompanying feelings of being alone. Violet can help you become more heart-centered which eases your connection to your Self, environment and others around you.
Energetic Benefits and Violet Flower Essence:
According to the Flower Essence Society,
helps one to
"let its essence flow into others [and] helps shift awareness from fear of losing the Self, to trust that the Self will be warmed and reveled by others, so that their beautiful soul nature may be shared with the world."[v]
~Flower Essence Repertory
When I was a child, I was very shy, quiet and soft spoken. Then, as I became an adult I became more outgoing in nature. I have always appreciated and loved working with violets energetically as they tend to bring me into a balance between the two. The violet plant reminds me of my gentle and sweet nature and how I can hide some of my qualities and strengths like the way the flowers can hide under its leaves. When I am feeling too shy and introverted or have a difficult time connecting to others from a heart-centered place, I can rely on violets to help me flow out of my shell and radiate with those around me.
You can use the flower essence in many ways. Try adding 1-2 drops in a large water bottle and sip on it throughout the day especially in social situations. Or add a drop directly under the tongue. I really like to add 3-5 drops per ounce of water in a small spray bottle and spray it around my body as needed. Or I rub 1 drop into my heart center or wrist points.
Herbal and Culinary Preparations using Violets
If using dried leaves and flowers, use 1 heaping tbsp per 8 ounces of water. If using fresh leaves and flowers, loosely fill a mason jar 1/3 - ½ of the way full. Bring the water to a boil and remove it from the heat source. Pour the recently boiled water over the violets, cover and allow it to steep at least 20 minutes; however, I personally like to make strong nourishing infusions and allow the tea to steep up to 12 hours. I usually prepare the tea the night before and allow it to infuse overnight. In the morning I either drink it cold, add it to my morning smoothie or protein shake instead of juice/milk substitute/water or I gently heat it back up on the stove until it starts to steam so I can enjoy a nice hot cup of tea.
Violet Syrup (Sugar Free)
There are different ways to prepare herbal syrups. I will discuss two possible ways to make and use violet syrup. If you would like a sugar free recipe which can be used to support coughs and sore throats or you would like an alcohol free violet extract then try the following:
Take 1 firmly packed cup of fresh violet leaves and flowers and add it to 12-16 ounces of recently boiled water. If using 1 cup of dried violet leaves add 16-20 oz of recently boiled water. Keep covered and allow to infuse overnight or all day if possible (about 12 hours or so). Gently warm up the tea infusion again just until it starts to steam. Remove it from its heat source, strain and add ¼-1/3 part honey to preserve it. The honey will blend better if the infusion is warm-hot. Store this preparation in the fridge for up to 2 months and take 1 tbsp as needed.
Violet Flower Simple Syrup
If you are using just the flowers and/or are interested in making a fun tasty sugar-based syrup then try the following recipe served with crepes or pancakes or drizzled over ice cream. Use it as a cocktail mixer for a martini or fizzy beverage, or add it to champagne or a white wine spritzer.
Fill a jar with violets flowers. Pour boiling water over violets and allow it to steep covered for up to 12 hours. Strain off the liquid. The color of the water can range from anywhere from blue to green. At a 1:1 ratio, place violet liquid and sugar in a large pan (for every cup of infused flower water, add 1 cup of sugar). Add a very small amount of lemon juice to the mixture until the desired color of violet is achieved. Be careful not to add too much lemon, otherwise, it will turn a pink hue. Bring syrup mixture to a gentle boil and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. If the color fades a little during cooking, you can add a few more drops of lemon juice to maintain the violet color. Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up 6 months.
Tincture & Vinegar Infusions
Violet leaf extracts are really helpful for those who need to work on their lymphatic system. You may choose to tincture in vinegar, alcohol, or glycerin. Take a mason jar and loosely fill it ¾ of the way with fresh violet leaves and flowers. Pour in your alcohol, glycerin or vinegar until the violets are completely covered and moving freely in the liquid. If using glycerin, you will need to dilute it with 20-30% water first. Stir well and release any air bubbles. Cover with a seal-tight lid and shake daily for 2-4 weeks. Strain extract through a stainless steel mesh strainer, muslin cloth or cheese cloth. Bottle and use as needed.
Violet Vinegar can be diluted 50/50 with water and used topically on the skin for general healing or as a hair rinse to ease an itchy scalp, fungal infections, assist in removing soap residue, and can help control dandruff. Or use it in culinary preparations such as making your own marinade and dressings.
1 cup freshly picked violet leaves and flowers
¼ cup lemon juice or violet infused vinegar
1/3 cup nourishing oil (olive, avocado, flax, pumpkin, etc.)
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt and pepper
Blend all ingredients except the oil in a blender until well blended. While the blender is running on medium-high speed, very slowly drizzle your oil into it so it emulsifies well with the other ingredients. Once the dressing is well blended and creamy pour into your container and use as needed in salad dressings. Store in the fridge.
Harvests and wash a handful of fresh violet leaves and flowers. Puree or finely chop the plant material until the juices are exposed. Placed the poultice on the skin, to help sooth irritated and dry skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, skin dermatitis, etc. Or apply the poultice over stagnant and swollen lymph nodes, cysts or tumors to help reduce their size and clear away stagnant and congested lymph fluid. Be sure to cover the plant material by wrapping it with a towel or plastic wrap. Keep in mind the fresh plant is most effective for a poultice. If you want to have access to fresh violet poultices all year you can puree large batches of the violets and freeze the mixture in small jars or ice cube trays to use later.
Violets are virtuous, vivacious, and valuable! Violets are unassuming but oh, so powerful!
DIY: Natural Herbal Deodorant
As we become more conscious as consumers and aware of the ingredients we put on our body from our personal care products, we can become discouraged and feel like we are limited on affordable and healthy options. There are many "natural" deodorants on the market but they tend to be very expensive and many brands are not as natural as they advertise themselves to be. In my experience and from what I have gathered from many other folks is that these more expensive deodorants do not seem to be as effective especially on those hot and humid days when we need deodorant most.
So what is the solution? Personally, after years of going back and forth between wasting money on deodorants which did absolutely nothing and choosing to not wear deodorant at all, relying on aromatic sprays and wipes to maintain freshness under my arms, I started experimenting with my own recipes and found that making my own deodorant is easy, fun and inexpensive. I can get creative with the ingredients and scents and make larger batches to give away to friends and family or trade for other herbal goodies.
Many recipes typically use an oil such as coconut, olive, almond, etc. melted with solid butters and waxes. I like to add another step to the process and make that oil an herbal infused oil using healing, nourishing, anti-inflammatory and/or lymphatic herbs such as Calendula, Chickweed, Comfrey, Figwort, Lavender, Roses, Violet, etc. These herbs can help reduce red, irritated skin and razor burn. The lymphatic herbs can help reduce congestion and prevent or help reduce cysts/growths in the breast tissue and in the arm pits.
Double boiler or small crock pot
Pyrex glass measuring bowl
Cheese cloth, muslin or stainless steel mesh strainer
Deodorant containers, glass jars or metal tins
1/2 cup coconut oil infused with violet, calendula and chickweed
(Instructions on how to make an herbal infused oil below)
Coconut is moisturizing, provides a silky like consistency, is anti-microbial and melts at body temperature. The herbs are healing, help sooth inflamed skin and stimulate the lymphatic system to support healthy breast tissue and prevent cysts in the breasts or under the arms.
I use beeswax only if I want a firmer consistency and am pouring it into deodorant stick containers or if I plan on being in really hot weather to prevent the deodorant from melting.
If I want a softer consistency which can be easily scraped out of a jar, I omit the beeswax.
Provides a solid consistency which melts easier than beeswax. Skin nourishing and healing and provides a subtle hint of chocolate aroma.
A very nourishing butter which has a fairly soft consistency, melting at body temperature. This helps the deodorant melt onto the skin during application.
Used to help absorb perspiration.
2 tbsp Baking Soda (optional; use in a smaller part or omit with very sensitive skin)
Used to help neutralize body odor.
Helps to absorb and reduce excess sweating and perspiration. Helps pull toxins from the skin.
1 tsp Vitamin E Oil (optional)
Vitamin E nourishes the skin and encourages skin healing. It is also used to help preserve the ingredients and extend the shelf life of the deodorant. (
You can squeeze the oil out of Vitamin E gel caps or purchase the oil in bulk at herb shops and some health food stores.)
Essential Oils (Use any safe oils of your choice. This is the blend I personally like to use)
Essential Oils are anti-microbial to help keep odor causing bacteria at bay and help enhance the scent of the deodorant.
How to Make Deodorant:
- Make Infused Oil
Melt 1 cup or 8 ounces of coconut oil in a small double boiler or crock pot. I like to use a little over ¼ oz or approximately ½ cup of violet leaves and flowers, ¼ oz or ½ cup firmly packed
calendula flowers and 2 tbsp of chickweed. If you harvest any fresh herbs they need to wilt and dry as much as possible before infusing in the oil to prevent rancidity. Slightly blend in your blender any large or whole herbs until they are all finely cut but not a powder. Add all herbs and stir them into the melted coconut oil. Keep heat on low or warm and gently cook the oil for 1-2 hours. I then like to let the oil continue to infuse overnight but this is optional. Skip that step if you want to make your deodorant on the same day. Once infused, gently reheat the oil if needed to warm it up again. Remove from heat and strain the herbal material out using a stainless steel mesh strainer, cheese cloth or muslin.
- Melt all Butters/Waxes and Infused Oil Together
Measure out ½ cup of the herbal infused oil and add it back to the double boiler/crock pot. Add the beeswax, shea butter and cocoa butter. Stir as needed until all ingredients are fully melted.
- Add in Powdered Ingredients
Whisk in arrowroot powder, baking soda and bentonite clay until mixed well.
- Add Heat Sensitive Ingredients
Mix in the vitamin E oil and essential oils. It is best to remove the mixture from its heat source and quickly add the heat sensitive ingredients before the mixture starts to cool and solidify.
- Pour and Allow to Cool
I find it helpful to pour the mixture into a glass pyrex measuring cup/bowl with a pour spout so it is easier to pour it into
containers without spilling and making a mess. Once it has been poured allow the container/jar to sit uncovered for a few hours or up to a day. Once the deodorant has solidified, use as needed by rubbing it under the arms.
This recipe makes 4 regular sized deodorant containers. They should be good to use for about 12 months depending on the freshness and quality of your ingredients.
Herbal Remedies Advice - Violet Flower Benefits by Rosalee de la Foret
More on Violet Lore and Science
Herbal Remedies Advice - Violet Flower Benefits by Rosalee de la Foret
Herbal Remedies Advice - Violet Flower Benefits by Rosalee de la Foret
Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz
Violet, Page 295; Copyright 2004
The Herbal Academy, "The Virtues of Violets - Health Benefits of Violets"; April 29, 2014
About the Author:
Candice Brunlinger has been studying and practicing herbal healing since 2004. Her passions include making herbal medicine, developing connections with plants, cooking, growing herbs, gardening, wild crafting, teaching workshops and classes, practicing tai chi and qi gong and being an "herbal mama". She teaches for the Northwest School of Botanical Studies, has a small clinical practice and an herbal product line, Herbal Infusions. Candice is inspired by plants and integrating a holistic lifestyle. You can visit her blog at http://nourishingherbs.blogspot.com/ or become a member of her facebook group "Herbal Living" at www.facebook.com/groups/herballiving/.