What is Gul Banafsha (Viola Odorata):

Viola odorata (L.) Gaertn. is a low-growing perennial with a stout rootstock found in hedgerows, rough land and margins of woodlands. It is native to Europe south of the Alps and west into France, but has naturalized in more northern areas because of widespread cultivation.

The stalked leaves arise in a rosette from the sturdy rootstock and are heart-shaped and hairy with an oval stipule. The fragrant, five-petalled dark violet or white flowers occur in spring and it may flower again in early autumn. The leafless flower stalks curve sharply so that the flower hangs down. The lowest petal has a prominent nectar-filled spur and the five sepals have basal appendages.

Gul banafsha seed form in a three-valved capsule and it also spreads by long creeping stolons.

Parma violets are cultivated for their fragrance and for their use as cut flowers. They have a very sweet, spicy aroma that is described as being reminiscent of violet candy. They have been described as smelling like candy, but with more depth, like violet candy that has been frozen.

The leaves are shiny green and the flowers are double. The flowers grow in a dense flower cluster at the end of each stem. Each flower is five petaled, with two sepals and four petals. The uppermost petal has a nectar-filled spur and the lowermost petal has an oval appendage that is usually brownish or yellowish in color. The five sepals have basal appendages, which are usually white or tan colored. There are three stamens that grow from the middle of each sepal—they are attached to the base of each petal (which is called an illicium).

Parma violets were first discovered in Parma in Italy during the late 18th century by Antonio Tommasini who named it after himself: “Viola Parma” means “violet from Parma” in Italian.

In the past, V. odorata was used as a poultice for treating headaches, coughs, colds, bronchitis and fever in traditional medicines. To ascertain the extent of knowledge around its use in these areas, the efficacy of V. odorata was evaluated as an antitussive agent, febrifuge, analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent as well as an anti-infectious agent.

How to use:
Traditional and modern information about V. odorata’s use in coughs, colds and fever was sourced from scientific databases and traditional resources. Gul banafsha results show that it is well known in several medicinal systems (Iranian, Greco-Arab, Ayurvedic and Unani) for treatment of whooping cough; headaches; migraine; insomnia; sore throat; epilepsy in children and adults. Modern clinical studies appear to confirm the efficacy of V. odorata syrup in treating these symptoms observed in traditional studies.