Gul Banafsha or Sweet Violet is a medicinal herb which is scientifically known as Viola odorata. The Gul Banafsha herb is native to Europe and Asia and it was only later introduced to North America and Australia owing to its varied health benefits.
Many people do not know that Gul Banafsha was very popular in Greece in ancient times where it was regarded as a symbol of Athens. Infact it was so popular that the Greek people worshiped the herb as the deity of gardens and generation.
Other common names for Gul Banafsha are wood violet, English violet, common violet, florist’s violet and garden violet. The majority of health benefits of Gul Banafsha can be obtained from its flowers which can be taken either in fresh or in dried form.
Flowers of Gul Banafsha
The flowers of Gul Banafsha are either dark violet, pinkish blue, purple or white. An interesting thing is that the flowers have a beautiful aroma to them. The leaf-stalks of Gul Banafsha plants have hairs which point downwards.
Where is this plant found
Gul Banafsha plants are commonly found near the edges of forests or in clearings, mud walls and hedgebanks and also grow as weeds in shaded lawns and gardens.
Edible parts of Gul Banafsha (Sweet Violet)
The young leaves and flower buds of Gul Banafsha (Sweet Violet) can be eaten either raw or cooked. The leaves of the plant have a very mild flavor. Usually available all through the winter, they soon become quite tough as they grow older. The leaves make a very good salad item along with other ingredients.
11 Amazing Gul Banafsha (Sweet Violet) Health Benefits
- Gul Banafsha is rich in phenols and polyphenols (antioxidants) – Anti oxidants slows down the oxidation of other molecules inside the body. Oxidization is bad. Molecules in the body oxidize creating free-radicals. Oxidation is normal but in excess oxidization can wreak havoc on cellular structures leading to cancer and decay. Anti-oxidants are helpful as they stop the excess oxidization and thus prevent tumors and decay in the process.
2. Gul banafsha contains alkaloids – Alkaloids are bio active nitrogen containing basic compounds of plant origin. Plants use alkaloids as a defense mechanism against pathogens and herbivores. The dietary intake of alkaloids have a therapeutic effect as muscle relaxant, natural tranquilizer and natural painkiller along with anti microbial properties. In the ancient times, people have used plant alkaloids for treating a large number of ailments such as snakebite, fever and insanity.
3. Gul Banafsha are rich in glycosides ( saponin) – Glycosides are a class of molecules in which, a sugar molecule is bonded to a “non-sugar” molecule. Glycosides have numerous health benefits thus playing an important roles in human lives. They are the most vital phyto chemicals and are of great general interest due to their diverse bio activity. Glycosides are known to exhibit significant antioxidant activity, anticancer and anti-tumor activity, hepato-protective activity, anti-inflammatory activity, anti-diabetes activity, antiviral activity, antibacterial and anti-fungal activity.
4. Gul Banafsha contains Vitamin C – Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is important for the body as it offers protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye diseases and skin wrinkling. Vitamin C also aids in repairs and regenerate tissues, aid in the absorption of iron, prevent the condition of scurvy, and decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides inside the body.
5. Gul Banafsha contains salicylic acid – Salicylic acid is good for the skin as it can help exfoliate your skin and reveal the healthy, new skin underneath. Salicylic acid prevents pores from clogging by slowing the shedding of cells inside the hair follicles, which helps prevent acnes. This acid is also a natural pain reliever and also helps in improving the circulation in the body. This acid is used as the primary ingredient in aspirin tablets. This natural occuring salicyclic acid is used to treat headaches, migraines and insomnia conditions. This is a reason why Gul Banafsha was traditionally used to relieve pain due to cancer.
6. Gul Banafsha contains coumarins – Coumarin is a phytochemical with a vanilla like flavour. Coumarin is a oxygen heterocycle and can occur either free or combined with the sugar glucose (coumarin glycoside). This compound has blood-thinning, anti-microbial, anti-fungicidal, anti-convulsant, anti inflammatory, neuro protective and anti-tumor effects on the body. Coumarin increases blood flow in the veins and decreases capillary permeability. Coumarin should not be taken while using anticoagulants. It should be noted that coumarin can be toxic to the body when used at high doses for long periods of time.
7. Gul Banafsha contains flavonoids – Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites thought to provide health benefits through cell signalling pathways and antioxidant effects. Flavonoids also have anti-viral, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects on the body. Flavonoids are known to protect the heartand keep it healthy.
8. Gul Banafsha is a natural diuretic – The herb especially the seeds of the plant serves as a strong natural diuretic. It causes an increased urination which not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts, water and toxins. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body’s tissues) and those who have high blood pressure, kidney dysfunction, cirrhosis of the liver, polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes and heart-related diseases.
9. Gul Banafsha is a natural emollient – Emollients mean, having the quality of softening or soothing the skin. Gul Banafsha is a natural emollient. It helps moisten and soften your skin. Tropical emollients are helpful in the treatment of acne, chapped lips, diaper rash, cold sores, or other minor skin irritations.
10. Gul Banafsha is a natural expectorant – The purpose of an expectorant is to thin or liquefy the body’s secretions, such as mucus, that cause congestion in the lungs. Expectorants also increase the bronchial secretion and enhance the expulsion of mucus by air passages of the lungs. This makes it is easier to cough up the phlegm or sputum thus Gul Banafsha can be used in times of cough or cold to get relief. The roots of the plant are a much stronger expectorant than other parts of the plant but they also contain the alkaloid violine which at high doses is strongly emetic and purgative.
11. Gul Banafsha is a natural laxative – The English word “laxative” comes from old French laxative, which came from the Latin laxatus. The Latin word Laxare means “to loosen”. Gul Banafsha is a natural laxative which means it helps in times of constipation. A study carried out by Spanish scientists found that laxatives in the form of fiber may improve symptoms of hemorrhoids, especially bleeding.
Homeopathic Uses of Gul Banafsha (Sweet Violet )
A homeopathic remedy is made from the whole fresh plant. It is considered useful in the treatment of rheumatism of the wrist and spasmodic coughs. An essential oil from the flowers is also used in aromatherapy where they are used in the treatment of skin complaints, bronchial complaints and exhaustion.