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.
As pansy derives it 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, while 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.
A bitter tea prepared with dehydrated or fresh pansy flowers or the complete plant was once used to treat an assortment of ailments. In 1597, John Gerard opined in his medical text titled ‘Herball' that the tea prepared with pansy was helpful in curing spasms among the infants. In addition, Gerard also recommended the pansy tea for treating inflammations in the chest and lungs and also wrote about the medication's efficiency to cure scabs, itching and ulcers when applied externally. 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. Long back, rural herbal practitioners used the pansy tea as a medication to reduce fever. It was also used for multiple other conditions. 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. 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. 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 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, in different forms, is extremely beneficial in curing different skin disorders. A tea either prepared from the dehydrated pansy flowers or the entire plant is effectual in treating skin ailments. 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. 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). In addition, the pansy has also been considered as a demulcent - a material that comforts mucous membranes like in the respiratory tract. Nonetheless, there is no scientific or clinical proof as far as the pansy's healing properties are concerned.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
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.
Pansy may be ingested both as an infusion as well as tincture.
Infusion: To prepare an infusion with pansy, add one to two teaspoons of the dehydrated herb to one cup of boiling water and allow it to permeate for 10 to 15 minutes. It is best to consume this infusion three times daily.
Collection and harvesting
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.
Pansy blended with coltsfoot (a plant with large hoof-shaped leaves) may be used to treat ailments of the lung or the respiratory tract. 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. 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).