Violet (Viola odorata)
| Violet (Viola odorata), a member of the Violaceae family, sometimes known as sweet violet, is a small tender perennial plant that only grows a few centimeters high. It is also known as Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, or Garden Violet.
It has dark green, heart-shaped leaves with downy undersides, fragrant violet-blue flowers, and an oblique underground rhizome. There are over 200 species in the Violaceae family, which are widely distributed over many temperate and tropical regions of the worlds. Grasse, in the South of France, has the largest production of Violets for the perfume trade, with smaller productions in Italy and China. The bulk of Violet Leaf absolute produced is used in high-class perfumes and occasionally in the flavoring of confectionery. Only a very small amount finds its way into the aromatherapy market.|
It is interesting to note that while the plant produces flowers both in spring and fall these flowers are quite different. The flowers produced in the spring are fully formed and sweet scented, however they are generally barren and produce no seed. These flowers are also full of nectar but, because they bloom before bee season, they are not pollinated by bees. The flowers that bloom in the fall are very small and almost insignificant. They are quiet hidden among the leaves and have little or no aroma. They do however produce an abundance of seeds and these fertile flowers are self-fertilizing. The plant is also able to propagate itself in the summer by sending out runners to form new plants.
The sweet, unmistakable fragrance of Violet has been popular for centuries, particularly in the late Victorian period and it has long been used as an ingredient in many cosmetics and perfumes. Both the leaf and flowers also have a long tradition of use in herbal medicine. It has historically been used to treat congestive pulmonary disorders and sensitive skin conditions, and in India, where it is known as Banafsha, it is commonly used to treat sore throats and tonsillitis. Its scent was also believed to comfort and strengthen the heart during times of grief. The leaf and the flowers have been used in traditional herbal medicine for congestive pulmonary conditions and sensitive skin conditions. The leaf has also been used to treat cystitis and as a mouthwash for infections of the mouth and throat. Its use has mostly been in perfumery and skin care.
The Ancient Greeks considered the Violet to be a symbol of fertility and love, so it was used in love potions. Pliny recommended that a garland of them be worn about the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. The ancient Britons used the flowers as a cosmetic, recommending that the flowers be steeped in goats’ milk to increase female beauty.
Syrups have traditionally been made from the flowers and leaves to help with respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing and sore throats. The flowers are edible and are quite often used in salads or candied for decoration. A decoction made from the dried root is used as a laxative while a tea made from the entire plant is used to treat digestive disorders. Applying freshly crushed leaves to the skin has been found to be helpful in reducing swelling and soothing irritations. The freshly crushed flowers with their relaxing aroma could be added to the bath to sooth the skin.
Violet Leaf absolute has an earthy fragrance with a slightly floral overtone and it blends well with tuberose, champaca, clary sage, tarragon, cumin, basil and other florals.
Psychologically, violet leaf has calming, comforting properties and could be useful for headaches, dizziness, insomnia and nervous exhaustion. On the physiological level it has anti-inflammatory, calming properties and can be used topically for skin complaints such as acne and thread veins, as well as coughing, bronchitis, sore throats and cystitis. On a subtle level violet leaf is thought to protect those who are shy or hypersensitive.
It is generally considered to be non-toxic and a non-irritant with the possibility of sensitization in certain individuals.
Both the leaf and the flower have a long tradition of use in herbal medicine. Violet syrup and ointments were well known and widely used. It is listed in the British herbal pharmacopoeia.
The main properties are expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and laxative. It comes up in almost all current aromatherapy textbooks as beneficial for tricky skin conditions – acne, eczema, thread veins, skin eruptions and sensitive skin. The smell would indicate its gentle action.
Skin: Violet Leaf Absolute essential oil helps to soothe and comfort sensitive, dry, itchy, red skin. It makes an excellent moisturizer and emollient and is particularly useful for eczema and dermatitis. It is good for oily skin and acne as it has antiseptic properties and helps to gently tighten and refine the pores. It can also help reduce the appearance of thread veins.
Mind: Violet Leaf essential oil is believed to comfort grief and loss and encourage independence and acceptance of change. It can also be beneficial for stress and insomnia.
Body: Violet Leaf Absolute oil is soothing and cooling and can be used to treat swellings and bruises. It can also be helpful for bronchitis, stress headaches, rheumatism, poor circulation, and sore throats.
Blends well with: Clary Sage, Lavender, Benzoin, Cumin, Basil, Helichrysum and Mimosa.
Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.