Pansy (Viola tricolor) is an herb that grows in the wild all over Europe and North America. Basically, the pansy plant is indigenous to Europe, North Africa and the temperate climate zones in Asia. However, over the years, the herb has acclimatized to the conditions in both the Americas and is now commercially cultivated in various parts of the world. The herb grows naturally in different environments ranging from the verdant mountains covered with grass to the coastal plains. Normally, pansy is cultivated as a garden plant, and the above ground parts of the plant that are useful therapeutically are harvested during the summer. The pansy plant has been revered for its beauty and medicinal properties since ancient times. It is also known as Bird’s Eyes, Wild Pansy, Heartsease, Johnny-Jump-Ups, Garden Violet, Yellow Wild Pansy, and Love-in-Idleness.
Heartsease is the forerunner of cultivated pansies. The flowers and leaves are edible. Whether growing wild in fields and meadows or making a random appearance on fallow land, the wild pansy is a favorite, and is often cultivated in some of the world’s most beautiful gardens. Although this plant is beloved for its beauty (check out Shakespeare’s Hamlet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream ), and its use in creating dyes; the wild pansy has been touted “medicinal” since the Middle Ages when it was heavily associated with folk medicine. The wild pansy has long been used in herbalism, and it is valued as a purifying herb.
As pansy derives its name from the French word pensée which literally translated into English denotes ‘thought’. The herb was so popular in Europe that even Shakespeare mentions about it when Ophelia refers to pansies as ‘That’s for thoughts’. Interestingly, in the conventional ‘flower language’, the three colors of the pansy flowers stand for three different things. For instance, purple, white and yellow stand for memories, loving thoughts and souvenirs respectively. And what is noteworthy is the fact that all the three terms bring a sense of comfort and ease to the heavy hearts of separated lovers. Hence, pansy is also often known as the ‘heartsease’. In addition, the juice extracted from the pansy herb was once dished up as an ingredient of love potions or tonics.
Pansies are thought of as weeds in American gardens. Like some weeds, like the dandelion, they hide a very beneficial function. Through some years of research, certain pansies that are brewed into tea and consumed, actually help out with acne.
The flowers which appear in a great variety of colors, are amazing in their beauty and for many years the herb has been associated with love. It has a great traditional value is has been used by many nations as an important ornamental element for decorating gardens and parks. In folk medicine, this remedy is used in the forms of tinctures, decoctions, poultices, or in the form of popular wild pansy tea. This herb has been utilized in herbal medicine for many centuries and is an ingredient of thousands of folk remedies for a good number of illnesses and health conditions.
Plant description and chemical properties
There are several strains and varieties of the pansy plant and the flowers appear in a wide range of colors. Useful Parts of the Plant: Flowers, stem, and roots The pansy plant is high in mineral salts mucilage and carotenoids. There are traces of vitamin C, tannin, and essential oils present in the herb as well. Pansy also contains violine, salicylic acid, and cyclotides (that are used in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries). Pansy also contains flavonoids, methyl salicylate, mucilage, gums, resin, and a saponin. Pansies, members of the violet family, come in a variety of colors, but the difference is only skin deep.
Pansy is an annually growing plant that normally grows up to 15 inches in height. However, the pansy plant generates numerous seeds that germinate so voluntarily that it often reappears like recurrent vegetation. The plant blossoms during May and September and the flowers are half to one inch long. The flowers of pansy exhibit prototypes of different colors – white, purple, and yellow. The pansy is an annually growing herb and can be harvested all the way through its cultivating season that normally lasts from March to August. These flowers tend to bloom around April and last until September. They were thought of as weeds, upon some research conducted by scientists, they actually help clear skin.
Pansies bloom during the spring and fall to produce pretty little flower blooms. These blooms come in three color varieties including purple, white, and yellow. Often, all three varieties grow together. Over their life spans, the stems of these flowers can grow to stand a total of thirty eight centimeters.
The seeds that the pansy produces can germinate very easily. If one mows the flowers down, the seeds are likely to be deposited back into the ground. The flowers can then reappear in a matter of days in the same spot.
Both the leaves and flowers of pansies are high in vitamins A and C. Pansies also contain gluey substance, mineral salts, carotenoids, small quantities of essential oil, and tannin. The latter gives the plant diuretic and anti-allergic properties. It is a great natural source of such natural substances and nutrients as vitamin C, vitamin E, as well as magnesium, calcium and other minerals.
When used medicinally, often the aerial parts of the pansy are used (petals). Gathered during the flowering season, petals are dried for future use. The petals of the wild pansy are rich in methyl-salicylate, which is used in topical pain ointments; saponins, which are beneficial in reducing blood cholesterol, stimulating the immune system, and reducing the risk of some cancers; alkaloids, mucilage, tannins, and flavonoids. Other important properties found in the plant are its natural components of vitamins C and E, in addition to calcium and magnesium.
The plant itself is a perennial, although best grown by most of us as an annual to add sparkle to late-winter gardens. They’ll grow in full sun or light shade, and they’re lovers of good soil, regular watering, and heavy feeding. Due to its high concentration of rutin, wild pansy infusions may be beneficial for other ailments as well. Rutin enables the body to effectively absorb vitamin C, something the body cannot do on its own. Rutin, a flavonoid, boosts vitamin C’s efficacy, helps to strengthen capillary walls, reduces cholesterol, and improves circulation. Recent studies indicate that flavonoids work as antioxidants and may very well have a large part in protecting the body.
As an Anti-inflammatory
The salicylates in pansy act as an anti-inflammatory. This makes pansy an effective treatment for rheumatism and arthritis. Pansy tea has a history of use in treating musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis and gout. The salicylic acid in the flower may account for its use in treating musculoskeletal disorders. Salicylic acid is one of the main ingredients in aspirin and may have anti-inflammatory properties of its own by blocking prostaglandin production, according to CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society. Thus, wild pansy teas and infusions are commonly taken as a remedy for rheumatism and cystitis. Anti-inflammatory properties of pansy tea are used to treat such infections as gout, rheumatism, pneumonia and many others. They are used to treat a wide array of health problems and diseases. However, what most people don’t know is that pansies can be used to create great herbal remedies. It has also been used for arthritis, rheumatism, and epilepsy, and for its purported anti-inflammatory, diuretic, mucus-thinning, laxative, soothing, and wound healing properties. Pansy has diuretic, laxative, sedative, and expectorant properties, and can be used as gargle and blood purifier to get rid of the noxious substances from the body. Although it has several advantages, the pansy herb is primarily used to treat disorders in specific areas – the skin, lungs and the urinary system. Health benefits of wild pansy embrace its excellent anti-inflammatory, diuretic, soothing, cleansing, expectorant and other properties of this natural remedy.
For Respiratory Disorders
It also soothes inflammations and irritations in the mucus membranes of the throat and loosens and eliminates phlegm. The best way to treat such ailments is by gargling with pansy tea or a pansy infusion. Earlier, the pansy, like its relative Viola odorata, was extensively used as an expectorant for throwing out phlegm (the thick mucous produced by the linings in the respiratory tracts during a cold). It is said that pansies help loosen and expel phlegm. The antitussive properties of the pansy plant lend it to being used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma, whooping cough and bronchitis. Pansy tea has been used as a folk remedy to treat respiratory disorders such as cough, feverish colds and whooping cough. Functioning as an anti-inflammatory expectorant, the herb is extensively recommended to cure whooping cough (a bacterial infection that leads to aggressive coughing seizures followed by sharp, strident gasps) as well as heightened bronchitis. In such conditions, the common pansy offers comfort, aiding the body to heal itself alongside.
In addition, the pansy has also been considered as a demulcent – a material that comforts mucous membranes like in the respiratory tract. Pansy blended with coltsfoot (a plant with large hoof-shaped leaves) may be used to treat ailments of the lung or the respiratory tract. The flowers can also help treat lung-related conditions such as bronchitis and whooping cough. Pansies are soothing cough medicine that has been used to treat lung problems (bronchitis, dry cough and asthma), as well as numerous skin problems (diaper rash, weeping eczema, cradle cap). The gluey substance in pansies acts as oil that soothes mucous membranes and eases painful coughs, and the salicylic acid content helps to ease the pain of lung inflammations.
Ointments and skin creams made with pansy as an ingredient have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Pansy is therefore used to treat skin ailments such as psoriasis, acne, eczema, itching, impetigo, and cradle cap. Drinking pansy tea or using it as a poultice on the skin can is effective as well. Pansies contain salicylic acid, a substance with antibacterial and antifungal actions when applied topically to the skin. Ointments made from the orange pansy plant are applied to the skin to treat acne, eczema, impetigo and itching. It may be noted here that the U.S. Pharmacopeia had listed the external application of pansy as a mode of herbal treatment and it still continues to remain that way. The herb may be used to cure eczema and supplementary skin problems, where there is exudate eczema, also known as weeping. In fact exudate eczema is a condition where a substance such as sweat or a cellular waste product is given out from a cell or organ in excess. Even the herb’s roots are useful in these conditions.
In addition, pansy may be rubbed on outwardly as an ointment or even ingested to free the system of all the noxious that are responsible for all types of skin diseases. On the other hand, pansy may be blended with other herbs like red clover, nettles (a plant found in the wild bearing saw-toothed leaves like a stinging nettle) and cleavers to treat skin problems. If you’ve been looking for an herbal remedy using easily obtainable ingredients that can treat your skin, one choice you should certainly try are pansies. It is believed that the blood cleansing properties of little pansies are hardly excelled by any other plant and are said to be especially useful for skin eruptions in children. When taken internally, it is said to rid the body of toxic products that cause skin problems. This natural element is used for facial creams and other cosmetic products as it has good cleansing, relaxing and tonic properties.
Wild pansy sometimes is used as an ingredient for natural shampoos as it can effectively nourish the scalp and this way improve hair quality.
As a Food Supplement
Aside from its medicinal and herbal uses, pansies are also used for decorative purposes and as edible additions to salads. Pansies are the ideal edible flowers and great decoration for salads. Their perfect size comes in wide variety of color and of course tastes great. Pansies have a mild, minty flavor. The flowers work well for candying and making great decorations on top of hor d’oeuvres and cakes.
For Cardiovascular Health
Centuries ago, wild pansy tea was used to strengthen heart muscle and improve the function of cardiovascular system in general. Pansy can be used to reduce bruising and broken capillaries as the rutin present in the plant helps stabilize blood vessel walls. Pansies are said to strengthen the blood vessels and stabilize capillary membrane fragility. Regular consumption of pansy can reduce blood pressure and prevent heart failure. These qualities are said to help combat arteriosclerosis by improving blood flow and also help in cases of varicose ulcers.
As a Calmative
Pansies are used to treat a number of health problems due to the anti-microbial properties of the phenolic glycosides in the pansy plant along with the antioxidant properties of the flavonoids present.
As an Anti-microbial
Pansies are used to treat a number of health problems due to the anti-microbial properties of the phenolic glycosides in the pansy plant along with the antioxidant properties of the flavonoids present.
Wild pansy has been used for centuries as one of the most potent herbal remedies for epilepsy.
Long back, rural herbal practitioners used the pansy tea as a medication to reduce fever.
For Urinary Disorders
As a diuretic, pansies promote the flow of urine and expel toxins and waste through the increased urine. It also claims diuretic properties that help eliminate fluid retention when taken internally. Diuretic properties of wild pansy can assist in treating bladder infections such as cystitis. In the case of urinary disorders, the pansy is advantageous in curing cystitis and may also be recommended for treating indications of recurrent and excruciating urination. The pansy may also be used to cure cystitis or the inflammation of the urinary bladder owing to infections by blending it with couch grass and buchu (a bush with leaves that possess diuretic properties). Regular consumption of wild pansy tea assists in avoiding water retention.
The Chinese have long since used pansies to treat and soften tumors in the body that could result in cancers of the lungs, stomach and the breast.
For Inducing Labour
Pansy can strengthen contractions of the uterus and induce labor.
Preparation and Dosage
Pansy infusion is made by adding two teaspoons of the dehydrated herb to a cup of water that is then kept aside to infuse. Similarly pansy tea is made by pouring a cup of hot water over two teaspoons of the herb.The tea is filtered before drinking. It is recommended that you drink pansy tea half an hour before a meal for the best results. You could also drink the tea made with dried pansy flowers and leaves steeped in hot water. Add honey or lemon juice to taste. It is best to consume this infusion three times daily. To get rid of different ailments, take two to four ml of the tincture prepared with pansy thrice every day.
You can also brew an infusion using the leaves of the pansy flow to make a tea. Apply the liquid as a poultice to affected areas. The German regulatory agency Commission E approves the use of pansy tea to treat seborrheic skin conditions, Professor Max Wichtl reports in his book, “Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals.” Some commercial skin care products contain extracts of the pansy flower. Wild pansy is commercially available as a single tea and in combination with other herbal preparations.
Pansy may be ingested both as an infusion as well as tincture.
There are many recipes for pansy tea. The simpler and easier, the better usually. Just make a simple brew of tea and enjoy. The best way to use it is steeping 1 tablespoon of dried pansy leaves and flowers in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes, then straining and adding some honey and/or lemon juice. One of the ways to reap these herbal benefits of pansies is to make tea and drink it.
Salad with baby greens, clementine and pansies can be prepared as follows:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved and flattened with the broad side of a knife
4 ounces spring mix baby lettuce
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise, sliced thinly
1/2 clementine (peel on), cut in 4 thin slices, each slice cut into small triangles
12 small pansies (or other edible flower), stems removed
1 ounce ricotta cheese, crumbled
4 pinches of sea salt
1 pinch cracked black pepper
Mix the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic. Toss the lettuce, cucumber, clementine, pansies, and ricotta cheese in a large bowl. Mix the vinaigrette with a whisk and toss with the salad. Mound the salad on each of four plates. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper; serve immediately and enjoy!
An infusion of heartsease made from 1 to 4 grams dried heartsease has been used three times daily. One cup of heartsease tea (made with 1.5 grams of the above-ground parts steeped in 150 milliliters boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes and then strained) has been taken three times daily. Two to four milliliters full-strength heartsease tincture has been taken three times daily. A tea or poultice prepared with heartsease has been applied to the skin three times daily.
Children (under 18 years)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for heartsease, and use in children is not recommended.
Wild pansy rinses are easy to make and store: steep two teaspoons of dried wild pansy in a half cup of boiling water for ten minutes and strain. Compresses of the solution may be used several times a day, and promote healing in both bruises and skin ailments such as psoriasis or acne. This solution is also a gentle remedy for the cradle cap and eczema that are often a part of infancy.
Side effects and precautions
There is limited information regarding adverse effects of heartsease. Health claims for pansies are unproven in traditional medicine, although the flower has a long history of use in folk medicine. There is no scientific or clinical proof as far as the pansy’s healing properties are concerned. While pansy has a long history of use in alternative medicine, clinical trials on its benefits are lacking. No purported health benefits are attributed specifically to orange pansies when used in alternative medicine. No evidence exists that orange pansies possess any additional medicinal benefit over any other color pansy. Ask your doctor before using tea made from pansy leaves, or ointments containing pansy to treat medical conditions. If you have a medical condition that might benefit from pansy tea or ointments, ask your doctor if any more proven treatments might have benefit.
Those with known allergy or hypersensitivity to heartsease, violets, and pansies, should avoid them.In theory, heartsease may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or in those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary. Heartsease is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and should be avoided during pregnancy. Heartsease may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Heartsease may have additive effects when taken with antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer herbs and supplements, and those which clear mucus from the lungs. In theory, due to its salicylic acid content, heartsease may have additive effects when taken with willow bark. As with all homeopathic medicines and supplements, a doctor should be consulted before use.