Violets and cancer. Comment please?

Howie Brounstein howieb at
Mon Jul 31 21:04:55 EST 1995

>Unbelievable !- literally,unbelievable.
>While I have no knowledge of the medicinal properties of violets,(which
>,BTW,my dictionary defines as..."1. ...of the genera 'viola';2. ..."any
>such plant except the pansy or the viola ; 3. ..."any of various similar
>plants of other genera" ; 4. "a bluish purple color"),there is nothing
>in the quoted material to support a belief that "violets" have any
>specific medical value. The artcle implies that a Dr.J.L.Hartwell of the
>U.S.A. National Cancer Institute did some experimentation with mice but
>the opportunity to present his study and findings,is,
>unfortunately,ignored.I have no doubt that"violets" add interest to a
>It's like reading the message in a fortune cookie: no harm if one does
>not commit one's life to pursuit of the contents of the message. There
>is no harm in speculating about curative properties of any specific or
>unknown plant. But, harm may come to those who commit themselves to
>following unsubstantiated claims to cures and abandon medical techniques
>that have been shown to be effective.
>The author of these questions and claims had a clear responsibility to
>attach his review of the appropriate literature and the results of any
>properly established investigations he conducted before leaving his
>readers with the impression that scientists were all off to the jungles
>and ignoring a cure for cancer to be found in their flower bed at home.
>And how I wish it were true ! That violets would cure cancer.!


I believe that this is a because of the Herblistserv, herb at trearnpc.bitnet

A short while ago they decided to start there own "fad herb" rather than 
waiting for a new one to come around. Here's a reprint of my recent post 
about it.

I think Violets are perfect for a fad herb.

Why? What qualifications should a fad herb have?

1. Environmental Considerations: We don't want a unique unusual plant only 
growing in one area. This can cause environmental damage and gives one 
area or country political control. Violets are exceptionally good because 
we can use any violet (mas or menos) rather than the specific Viola 
Mostexpensiva. People love Osha, Ligusticum porteri, from the southern 
Rocky Mountains. But if you live in Eastern Washington, go for the local 
L. canbyi. Save resources and the populations of the more known herb. But 
Violas, every one has them. Around here they are plentiful, not threatened 
or endangered, and can handle ethical wildcrafting. Plus it grows in the 
garden easily. Even desert species can be grown in the arid regions.

2. Strength: a fad herb should be mild. No ten drops only, ten more causes 
side effects. Let's face it, with the fad herb 100's of 1000's of folks 
will be taking it every day because they heard it was good for you. Maybe 
we should even give it to grandma.  These folks will often take more of it 
when they feel bad, after all, if I take more I'll get better quicker. 
This leads us to

3. Minimal side effects: Since by definition, the fad herb will eventually 
be believed to cure nearly everything, including increasing sex drive, 
cure cancer, arthritis, grey hair, slow or reverse aging, and let you lose 
weight while reading email, it better have minimal side effects. It will 
be mixed with a variety of pharmaceuticals, without the knowledge of the 
doctor. It will be taken long term everyday without true knowledge of its 
effect. Violas are perfect again.

4. Not too specific an herb; works gently on a variety of problems: Once  
again, because of it's blatant overuse, it shouldn't be too active on any 
one system of the body. Plus it has more of a chance of curing everything.


So I've seen the yellow people who have taken Goldenseal every day like a 
vitamin. How many doctors are looking for a hidden low grade infection, 
not realizing that it's the really the high doses of Echinacea stimulating 
the immune system whether or not there is an infection. And some of 
mushroom people with foul burping (hey..two gallons a day, what do you 
expect?) No problem like this will arise from the ever- gentle Viola. But 
then, will I be seeing Violet colored people in a few years? ;-)

One student of mine always ate the violets on classes. There are many of 
them in the Cascades, and the students see at least 12 species of them. 
Some were tasty, some bitter, bland, rich, or sweet. Seems where and what 
species at what time makes a big difference in palatability. Luckily taste 
is not a requirement of a fad herb.


Susan Weed has an excellent book, Wise Woman Herbal, that wisely covers a 
few gentle weedy herbs in depth. Many pages on the uses of Violets.


Howie Brounstein
C & W Herbs, Inc. 

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