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It has a strong folk reputation in the treatment of cancer and whooping cough. It also contains salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin, and is therefore effective in the treatment of headaches, migraine and insomnia. An essential oil from the flowers and leaves is used in perfumery and the flowers themselves are used to flavour breath fresheners.
Medicinal and edible, the flowers and leaves of viola are made into a syrup used in alternative medicine mainly for respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat. Flowers are also edible and used as food additives for instance in salad, made into jelly, and candied for decoration. Large doses of the root contain an alkaloid called violine which is emetic (causing vomiting). A decoction made from the root (dry herb) is used as a laxative. Tea made from the entire plant is used to treat digestive disorders and new research has detected the presence of a glycoside of salicylic acid (natural aspirin) which substantiates its use for centuries as a medicinal remedy for headache, body pains and as a sedative.
The plants constituents are being studied and show these uses to be valid. Eugenol, Ferulic-acid, Kaempferol, Quercetin, Scopoletin, also show promise in the treatment of many kinds of cancer, arthritis, AIDS, gum disease and more. Used externally the fresh crushed leaves reduce swelling and soothe irritations. As a bath additive the fresh crushed flowers are soothing to the skin and the aroma is very relaxing.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2002 Apr;1(6):365-9. Related Articles, Links
Cyclotides: a novel type of cytotoxic agents.
Lindholm P, Goransson U, Johansson S, Claeson P, Gullbo J, Larsson R, Bohlin L, Backlund A.
Division of Pharmacognosy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, BMC, Uppsala University, Sweden.
Cytotoxic activities of three naturally occurring macrocyclic peptides (cyclotides) isolated from the two violets, Viola arvensis Murr. and Viola odorata L., were investigated. A nonclonogenic fluorometric microculture assay was used to examine cytotoxicity in a panel of 10 human tumor cell lines representing defined types of cytotoxic drug resistance. Additionally, primary cultures of tumor cells from patients, and for comparison normal lymphocytes, were used to quantify cytotoxic activity. All three cyclotides, varv A, varv F, and cycloviolacin 02, exhibited strong cytotoxic activities, which varied in a dose-dependent manner. Cycloviolacin 02 was the most potent in all cell lines (IC50 0.1-0.3 microM), followed by varv A (IC50 2.7-6.35 microM) and varv F (IC50 2.6-7.4 microM), respectively. Activity profiles of the cyclotides differed significantly from those of antitumor drugs in clinical use, which may indicate a new mode of action. This, together with the exceptional chemical and biological stability of cyclotides, makes them interesting in particular for their potential as pharmacological tools and possibly as leads to antitumor agents.
J Ethnopharmacol. 1985 Sep;14(1):45-51. Related Articles, Links
Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2004 Oct;5(5):331-40. Related Articles, Links
Gustafson KR, McKee TC, Bokesch HR.
Molecular Targets Development Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, Maryland 21702-1201, USA.
The cyclotides are a recently discovered, structurally unique family of bioactive plant peptides. Their discovery spawned a series of structural analyses, synthetic efforts, and studies to define the biosynthesis and biological properties of these novel peptide metabolites. Cyclotides have a head-to-tail cyclized amino acid backbone and a conserved cystine knot motif that provides an extremely stable structural framework. They all share a common global fold and are highly resistant to denaturation and to cleavage by proteolytic enzymes. However, these macrocyclic peptides are quite permissive to amino acid substitutions or additions in several peripheral loop regions, since changes in these loops do not alter the core cyclotide structure. These features make cyclotides attractive templates for incorporating desired amino acid sequences and then delivering these peptide sequences in a well defined, highly stable framework. Cyclotides likely function in a defensive role in the source plants since they exhibit a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity and are detrimental to the growth and survival of herbivorous insects. Cyclotides are gene-encoded polypeptides that are cleaved from larger precursor proteins and then cyclized. This review summarizes research done on a subset of cyclotides that were discovered due to their HIV inhibitory properties. It details the isolation and characterization of these compounds and describes this work in the context of our current state of knowledge of the entire cyclotide family.
Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2004 Oct;5(5):297-315. Related Articles, Links
Discovery, structure and biological activities of the cyclotides.
Craik DJ, Daly NL, Mulvenna J, Plan MR, Trabi M.
Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
The cyclotides are a family of small disulfide rich proteins that have a cyclic peptide backbone and a cystine knot formed by three conserved disulfide bonds. The combination of these two structural motifs contributes to the exceptional chemical, thermal and enzymatic stability of the cyclotides, which retain bioactivity after boiling. They were initially discovered based on native medicine or screening studies associated with some of their various activities, which include uterotonic action, anti-HIV activity, neurotensin antagonism, and cytotoxicity. They are present in plants from the Rubiaceae, Violaceae and Cucurbitaceae families and their natural function in plants appears to be in host defense: they have potent activity against certain insect pests and they also have antimicrobial activity. There are currently around 50 published sequences of cyclotides and their rate of discovery has been increasing over recent years. Ultimately the family may comprise thousands of members. This article describes the background to the discovery of the cyclotides, their structural characterization, chemical synthesis, genetic origin, biological activities and potential applications in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Their unique topological features make them interesting from a protein folding perspective. Because of their highly stable peptide framework they might make useful templates in drug design programs, and their insecticidal activity opens the possibility of applications in crop protection.
Antipyretic studies on some indigenous Pakistani medicinal plants.
Khattak SG, Gilani SN, Ikram M.
Significant oral antipyretic activity in rabbits was exhibited by hexane-, chloroform- and water-soluble extracts of Artemisia absinthium, Viola odorata, Melia azadirachta and Fumaria parviflora comparable in potency aspirin. Pyresis was induced by subcutaneous yeast injections. Antipyretic activity was more prominent in the hexane-soluble portions of these plants. Insignificant to no antipyretic effects were produced by extracts of Butea frondosa, Berberis lycium and Sisymbrium irio. No obvious toxic effects were noted for any of the plant extracts up to doses of 1.6 g/kg.