Sweet violet flowers and leaves have been in use as a medicine around the world for centuries and prized for their various therapeutic properties. They may be small but they are very impressive with their exquisite beauty, intoxicating fragrance and plethora of medicinal actions including mild sedative, moistening, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, diuretic, anti-cancer, decongestant, antihypertensive, anti-lipemic (reducing blood lipids/fats), diaphoretic, pre-anesthetic, antipyretic, anti-fungal, mildly laxative as well as having positive effects on body-weight reduction.
It’s a great herb for children suffering from coughs, the onset of a cold, fevers, restlessness and temper tantrums and is also rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C. It is a gentle acting plant, no forceful drama yet powerful and thorough in its healing.
Violets in a shady hedgerow
This plant has inspired love poetry for centuries and now it seems medical science is also falling in love with sweet violet, evidenced here by the sheer volume of scientific studies it has spawned.
Find out exactly what sweet violet can achieve and how easy it is to use as a medicine at home here.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” (Mark Twain).
Unlike some medicinal plants, these flower heads may not have a list of medicinal actions as long as your arm – but what they do, they do incredibly well. If thinning the blood and improving the elasticity of all blood vessel walls weren’t enough, they have hormonal constituents (phytoestrogens) that can greatly help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and bone density loss. Add to this a strong history of treating chronic skin conditions, beautifying the complexion and an excellent reputation for helping to treat a variety of cancers.
Red clover (Trifoilum pratense) in an Alpine meadow
The plant needs little description as it is so recognisable and is incredibly easy to find, harvest and use. To find out what else these gorgeous flowers can do, including dosage and cautions, visit the Wild Pharma ‘red clover’ page.
The European mistletoe is drenched in magic and has a long held place in the mythology of Europe. Many other parts of the world have their own varieties of mistletoe equally held in high esteem. Aside from its medicinal properties, the Druids and Ancients noted where and how it lived its life, not of the Earth and not of the Sky but somewhere in between, in the trees. The trees themselves are connectors of sky and earth (roots reaching down, branches reaching up) and the mistletoe thrives in that in between space. I find it no coincidence that the mistletoe has an affinity for the heart – the organ that is in between above and below – right in the middle of the 3 lower chakras and the 3 higher chakras and the seat of the soul to so many ancient cultures.
European Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Read the full medicinal story, cautions and how to use mistletoe as medicine here.
the gentle blue haze of chicory (Cichorium intybus)
I came across this beautiful blue tinged field yesterday on my daily ramble. At first sight I thought it was flax/linseed but on closer inspection, I realised it was in fact chicory.
The leaves and root can be used as both food and medicine and have been foraged for and cultivated for many centuries. The leaves are best eaten when the plant is still young, before flower stalks arise but the root can be harvested in spring and autumn and used fresh or dried or roasted as a half decent coffee substitute.
Named “the friend of the liver” by the 2nd century physician Galen, modern research has verified chicory root has the ability to stimulate the flow of bile, act as a pre-biotic (encourages the growth of friendly gut bacteria), improve digestion and also to help prevent cancer (particulary gastro-intestinal cancers), atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. It is also rich in anti-oxidants, folic acid, manganese, potassium, vitamins A & B6 and contains substances that are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, cholesterol lowering, mildly sedative, blood sugar stabilising and immune stimulating.
chicory flower (Cichorium intybus) close up
This wild variety is the original plant from which many modern vegetables are now cultivated including the pale blanched chicory heads, endive and raddichio. All of these leaves share a mild bitter taste and have tonic effects on the liver and digestion and are well worth including in the diet on a weekly/bi-weekly basis throughout its growing season.
young chicory leaves, ready for picking