Violets: the New Fad Herb.

Botanical name: 

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 20:58:43 +1000
From: Michael Bailes <adamtfg.OZEMAIL.COM.AU>
Subject: Lets start our own fad was General Hype and Fanfare

Anita F Hales wrote:
> Paul Iannone wrote
>>Folk medicine regularly embraces solo herbals with a kind of hysteria. I have lived through many of these cycles. Remember when Pau 'Arco was the healing agent of the ages? Brewer's Yeast? Royal Jelly? Alfalfa? Pycnogenol? Youghurt? Kefir? Miso? Gingko? Molasses? Chromium? Co-Q10? Golden Seal? Echinacea? Garlic? Kelp? Chlorella? ...? The list is endless,

Comfrey ?
Fashions in herbs are like any other.
Fads do serve some useful purposes in raisng conciousness. The fad is often precipitated by some new or groundbreking research (Feverfew Ginko) or someone's revival of a forgotten herb (Golden Seal, Chilli) or some "new" western disease that responds to an ancient herb (Yoghurt garlic)

> If it takes a "fad" to see what great things can be accomplished with natural healing and herbs, then I'm all for the fads. Let them come. There will be a few who will abuse but for most it will be beneficial.

Lets start our own fad on this list just for fun?

I find herbs are a little like people; boring and unimpressive at first then the more you get to know them the more amazing and facinating they become.

To start a fad then we need lots of information stories etc about any herb.

This then needs to be publiciced as much as possible.

Anyone feel mischievous and like to suggest some obscure herb we can start collecting informatoion on (getting to know?) Not too obscure please

From: Sandra Hoffman <sandrap.DRAGON.ACHILLES.NET>

> Anyone feel mischevous and like to suggest some obscure herb we can start collecting informatoion on (getting to know?) Not too obscure please

Actually, I'd pick something fairly common, but that has little known beneficial properties. I'd nominate violets or dandelions.

From: C Oinonen Ehren <TOIVO.AOL.COM>

I'd like to second the nomination of violets, you know, the regular wild cracks-of-sidewalks and your neighbors' lawns kind. I love them. I have a recipe for violet syrup, as in to put on pancakes and icecream or in soda water, and of course the leaves are nice in salads. I have collected a lot of seed, in hope of cultivating them (they have long, kind of oblong seed pods. I try to get them green because once they've dried they dry they kind of shoot the little seeds out of them. I've observed that some of the seeds are white, while others are black). Problem is I can't get them to germinate for me. Thinking I should try freezing them first, or putting them on the surface instead of burying them, etc. but I only have so many, not enough to experiment with. Anyone have suggestions?

Oh, and they made my nails grow, and I lost 20 lbs in five days!!! and bigfoot is the father of Elizabeth Taylor's twoheaded love child! : )

From: Shirley Bates <shirley.BATESX.CS.HOU.COMPAQ.COM>

> are white, while others are black). Problem is I can't get them to germinate

The seeds might need to be "scratched" first. Try combining the seeds with some sand in a container. Then shake the container. Also, try contacting your local agricultural department.

From: Michael Bailes adamtfg.OZEMAIL.COM.AU

>that has little known beneficial properties. I'd nominate violets.

Here's my tuppence worth

Will violets cure cancer?

An ancient Australian herbalist thinks so. In a fascinating new book recently published he has shown that violets have been used as an anti-cancer remedy for 100 years. They are especially popular in French and English country folklore. Documented evidence of total remission of cancer has existed for hundreds of years while being ignored by the modern medical establishment. Has this plant missed being analysed because it is too common? While huge corporations screen thousands of plants from the Rainforests of South America the answer could be sitting in their own corporate garden.

etc etc.There is a journalist on the list somewhere isnt there?


"Violets secrete a soft substance called mucilage which is useful in cases of inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestine. In the official medical records there is a case of a man who cured himself of cancer of the throat by infusions and compresses of Violets.''
Maurice Messegue 1975

Violets are one of the best of all blood purifying herbs. Maude Grieve and Maurice Messegue, two of the greatest herbalists of this century, speak glowingly of the humble Violet, although they are cautious in recommending its use for cancer.

"Of late years, preparations of fresh Violet leaves have been used both internally and externally in the treatment of cancer, and though the British Pharmacopoeia does not uphold the treatment, it specifies how they are employed. From other sources it is stated that Violet leaves have been used with benefit to allay the pain in cancerous growths, especially in the throat, which no other treatment relieved, and several reputed cures have been recorded''
Maude Grieve 1931

Maude Grieve in her classic 1931 herb book "A Modern Herbal" gives specific instructions for making Violet tea (2 ½ ounces fresh leaves to one pint of boiling water). Interestingly, Violets have a very long tradition of being used for cancer. Culpeper says:

"the green leaves are used with other herbs to make plasters and poultices for inflammation and swellings and to ease all pain"

Catherine Booth, the wife of the founder of the Salvation Army is said to have used Violet leaves to ease the pain of her advanced cancer. Nelson Coon mentions the case of Lady Margaret Marsham whose throat was closed by a malignant growth, External infusions of Violet leaves were made and the cancer apparently disappeared very quickly.

"The Violet plant, as far back as 500 B.C., was used in poultice form as a cure for surface cancer. It was used in 18th century England for the same purpose. And now only months ago - a letter from a farmer in Michigan tells me how he used the Violet plant as a skin cancer remedy. When the remedy was tried on a cancerous mouse here at the Institute, we found that it did damage the cancer."

Dr. J.L.Hartwell, National Cancer Institute USA. Quoted in N. Coon 1977

There are many varieties of violet on the market at the moment. Commonly "General Herricks", the large florist's violet, is sold in nurseries as Viola Odorata. This is not the one I recommend for helping treat Cancer. The small old-fashioned, mauve garden violet of grandma's garden (Prince of Wales) with small, pretty, fragrant, violet blue flowers is the one that has been used for centuries for healing. Other violets may works as well, but no-one has really done the necessary extensive research on Violet leaves for which the repeated claims over the centuries cry out. Violets are simplicity themselves to take. Pick several leaves and infuse them in boiling water and drink. I often have Violet leaf tea when I have the flu. Its "nothing" flavour is strangely invigorating and "moreish". Perhaps my body is craving what it knows is good for it. Fresh Violet leaves can also be picked from the garden, torn and added to a salad. They are quite tasty with a dressing."

from "The Healing Garden", 1994 Michael Bailes and Kangaroo Press.


> Will violets cure cancer?
> An ancient Australian herbalist thinks so. Has this plant missed being analysed.

Hi Michael, Who is the ancient Australian Herbalist, and what is the name of the book.

I don't think that Violet leaf is a forgotten remedy amongst Herbalists - It was taught as a very important and powerful lymph alterative when I studied Herbal Therapeutics. All the Herbalists that I know use Violet Leaf.

Actions: Powerful alterative, lymphatic, resolvent, anti-neoplastic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, emollient.

From: Michael Bailes <adamtfg.OZEMAIL.COM.AU>

> Hi Michael, Who is the ancient Australian Herbalist?

We are trying to start a new herbal fashion with violet - "Hype and fanfare".

From: frgntgar.OZEMAIL.COM.AU

Blood purifying herbs are herbs that help the body eliminate its toxins. Violet leaves; the leaves of the common mauve Violet Viola odorata, sometimes called Prince or Princess of Wales, can be added to salads. They have an interesting lettuce-like flavour.

From: C Oinonen Ehren <TOIVO.AOL.COM>
Subject: Violet Syrup

You need to collect as many violet flowers as you can find. This is the hardest part--I can almost never find enough. (recipe based off of a quart of violets, increase or decrease according to what you could find. You could increase the proportion of violets to syrup, making a stronger syrup, but I wouldn't recommend making it much weaker than this) You may wish to wash the flowers, depending on where you found them.

*** only important piece of information: go through and remove all the green parts from each flower. Cooked, the green parts taste strong and spinachy. Just a little green stuff can ruin your whole batch. We learned this the hard way...

In a double boiler dissolve and heat 2 cups sugar and 3 cups water. If you like thick syrup, add more sugar, or less if you like thin. Make sure it's all the way dissolved and very hot. Fold in the flowers. Put on the lid. Turn down heat so that bottom pan is just boiling-you don't want any steam to escape from the top pan at this point (if you can help it). Let it cook for another ten minutes. Take off heat. Let cool. Put it in a jar.

Ta-dah. You're done. You could strain out the flowers if you wanted. I recommend keeping the syrup in the fridge. I bet you could use any edible flower instead of/in addition to violets, but I haven't tried it.

From: christopher hedley <christopher.GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: Violets, was fad herb.

I agree.... Violets are an excellent choice for a new fad herb.

Let me add a piece to the growing mythology.... which is all the better for being true,

Violets, of course, have an ancient reputation in the treatment of tumours, both internally and as a compress.

A collegue of mine has made himself quite a reputation treating Sarcoidosis. This is a connective tissue disease which damages, mainly, the lungs and kidneys. It is quite common here, in the UK, in the West Indian community.

The presenting symptoms are often lumps - swollen lymph glands, painful red lumps on the shins and various nodules in the connective tissue. Such symptoms should of course be checked to exclude malignancy or stubborn infections such as TB. He finds that adding a little Violet, Viola odorata, tincture to the medicine can often make all the difference. This disease is NOT one for home treatment, but Violets can be used in conjunction with other therapies, when they can only be benificial ... which brings us to the biggest danger that arises from using fad herbs, even those of a very mild nature, vis. that people may take them instead of getting 'proper' treatment.

How do we make sure that this proviso is added to the story ?
Any thoughts ?

Christopher Hedley MNIMH

An extra bit...the Grete Herbal says that Violets are good against; fevers, hot headaches, hot abcesses in their begining and 'chaffings of the liver'. It adds that medicines should be made from the fresh herb, or flowers.

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>

Dear Netters,

I think Violets are perfect for a fad herb.

Why? What qualifications should a fad herb have?

1. Environmental Considerations: We don't want a unique unusual plant only growing in one area. This can cause environmental damage and gives one area or country political control. Violets are exceptionally good because we can use any violet (mas or menos) rather than the specific Viola Mostexpensiva. People love Osha, Ligusticum porteri, from the southern Rocky Mountains. But if you live in Eastern Washington, go for the local L. canbyi. Save resources and the populations of the more known herb. But Violas, every one has them. Around here they are plentiful, not threatened or endangered, and can handle ethical wildcrafting. Plus it grows in the garden easily. Even desert species can be grown in the arid regions.

2. Strength: a fad herb should be mild. No ten drops only, ten more causes side effects. Let's face it, with the fad herb 100's of 1000's of folks will be taking it every day because they heard it was good for you. Maybe we should even give it to grandma. These folks will often take more of it when they feel bad, after all, if I take more I'll get better quicker. This leads us to

3. Minimal side effects: Since by definition, the fad herb will eventually be believed to cure nearly everything, including increasing sex drive, cure cancer, arthritis, grey hair, slow or reverse aging, and let you lose weight while reading email, it better have minimal side effects. It will be mixed with a variety of pharmaceuticals, without the knowledge of the doctor. It will be taken long term everyday without true knowledge of its effect. Violas are perfect again.

4. Not too specific an herb; works gently on a variety of problems: Once again, because of it's blatant overuse, it shouldn't be too active on any one system of the body. Plus it has more of a chance of curing everything.


So I've seen the yellow people who have taken Goldenseal every day like a vitamin. How many doctors are looking for a hidden low grade infection, not realizing that it's the really the high doses of Echinacea stimulating the immune system whether or not there is an infection. And some of mushroom people with foul burping (hey..two gallons a day, what do you expect?) No problem like this will arise from the ever-gentle Viola. But then, will I be seeing Violet colored people in a few years? ;-)

One student of mine always ate the violets on classes. There are many of them in the Cascades, and the students see at least 12 species of them. Some were tasty, some bitter, bland, rich, or sweet. Seems where and what species at what time makes a big difference in palatability. Luckily taste is not a requirement of a fad herb.


Susan Weed has an excellent book, Wise Woman Herbal, that wisely covers a few gentle weedy herbs in depth. Many pages on the uses of Violets.


Off topic, another student of mine let her mushroom of the ancients free (careful not to use the "K" word (Kombucha was a pest on this list for a while --Henriette)) I offhandly suggested. It mutated and took over the pond.


Violets and Wizardry Herbs, Inc.

oops, I mean

Columbines and Wizardry Herbs, Inc.