Heartsease (Viola tricolor)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Ackerveilchen (German), banewort, banwort, banwurt, bird's eye, blue violet, bonewort, bouncing bet, bullweed, call-me-to-you, cuddle me, cull me, cull me to you, European field pansy, European wild pansy, field pansy, field violet, flower o'luce, godfathers and godmothers, heart-ease herb, Heart's ease, herb constancy, herb trinitatis, herba jaceae, herbe de pensee sauvage (French), Jack jump-up-and-kiss-me, Johnny jump up, Jupiter flower, kiss-her-in-the-buttery, kit-run-about, kit-run-in-the-fields, ladies' delight, live-in-idleness, love idol, love-in-idleness, love lies bleeding, love-lies-bleeding, loving idol, meet-me-in-the-entry, pancies, pansy, pawnce, pensée (French), pensee sauvage (French), pink-eyed-John, pink-o'-the-eye, pink of my John, stepmother, stepmother herb, Stiefmuetterchenkraut (German), three-faces-in-a-hood, three-faces-under-a-hood, viola, Viola arvensis, Viola lutea, Viola ocellata, Viola tricolor L., Viola tricolor (Linn.), Violatricolor var. arvensis (Murr.) Boiss., Violaceae (family), Violae tricoloris herba, violette tricolore, violine, violutoside, wild pansy.
Heartsease, also referred to as wild pansy, is the forerunner of cultivated pansies. The flowers and leaves are edible.
Heartsease has been used by herbalists for centuries in the treatment of respiratory complaints (such as asthma, bronchitis, and whooping cough) and skin diseases (such as eczema and seborrhea). 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.
There is limited scientific evidence to confirm the many traditional uses of heartsease. Early research suggests that heartsease may have anticancer and antimicrobial properties.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Acne, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, bedwetting, bile flow stimulation, bladder inflammation, breast inflammation, bronchitis, bruises, childbirth (labor induction), colds, convulsions, cough, demulcent (soothes inflamed tissue), diarrhea, diuretic (increase urine flow), eczema, emetic (induces vomiting), epilepsy, eruptions, expectorant, eye inflammation, gonorrhea (suppressed), gout, heart disorders, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), inflammatory conditions, itching, laxative, mucilage, pain relief, pleurisy, respiratory problems, rheumatism, ringworm, seborrhea, skin diseases (inflammation), skin infections (impetigo), sore throat, sweat stimulant, syphilis, testicular inflammation, tonic, ulcers (throat), urinary difficulties, urinary tract inflammation, uterine tonic, vaginal discharge, warts, whooping cough, wound healing.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
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 old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for heartsease, and use in children is not recommended.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to heartsease, violets, and pansies.
Side Effects and Warnings
There is limited information regarding adverse effects of heartsease.
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.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Heartsease is not recommended in 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.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
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 antibiotic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory drugs, and drugs that clear mucus from the lungs.
Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and may cause nausea or vomiting when taken with metronidazole (Flagyl®) or disulfiram (Antabuse®).
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Heartsease may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases have been reported with the use of garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Heartsease may have additive effects when taken with antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer herbs and supplements, and herbs and supplements that clear mucus from the lungs. In theory, due to its salicylic acid content, heartsease may have additive effects when taken with willow bark.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Franz, G. [Studies on the mucopolysaccharides of Tussilago farfara L., Symphytum officinalis L., Borago officinalis L. and Viola tricolor L]. Planta Med. 1969;17(3):217-220. View Abstract
Gran L, Sandberg F, Sletten K. Oldenlandia affinis (R&S) DC. A plant containing uteroactive peptides used in African traditional medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;70(3):197-203. View Abstract
Gurman EG, Bagirova EA, Storchilo OV. [The effect of food and drug herbal extracts on the hydrolysis and transport of sugars in the rat small intestine under different experimental conditions]. Fiziol Zh SSSR Im I M Sechenova 1992;78(8):109-116. View Abstract
Rimkiene S, Ragazinskiene O, Savickiene N. The cumulation of Wild pansy (Viola tricolor L.) accessions: the possibility of species preservation and usage in medicine. Medicina (Kaunas.) 2003;39(4):411-416. View Abstract
Svangard E, Goransson U, Hocaoglu Z, et al. Cytotoxic cyclotides from Viola tricolor. J Nat Prod. 2004;67(2):144-147. View Abstract
Witkowska-Banaszczak E, Bylka W, Matlawska I, et al. Antimicrobial activity of Viola tricolor herb. Fitoterapia 2005;76(5):458-461. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017