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Homemade Herb Infused Oils and Salves with Plantain and Violet Leaf

| 4/20/2009 10:51:42 AM


Sarah Powell, an herbalist, medical anthropologist and proprietor of the natural bath & body business, Lilith’s Apothecary. Find her shop at and her blog at for more natural body care tips and recipes. 

Each year by the end of March, I have run out of my precious oil infusions of fresh plantain leaves, fresh violet leaves and delicate violet blossoms. In early spring, I am nearly chomping at the bit to see the first tender violet leaves poking through the soil in garden or woods, the first wide blades of plantain peaking out absolutely everywhere you look. In my neck of the woods, violet will not be flowering until at least late April, at which time I will begin to prepare my favorite herbal salves. Herbal infused oils, usually olive, grape seed, or sweet almond, are indispensible in the creation of many salves and oils specific to the healing power of vulnerary, or wound-healing, herbs that you use.


Plantain (Plantago major) is one of my favorite vulnerary herbs. Its gentle astringency makes it wonderful for blisters, insect bites, rashes and hemorrhoids. You can pick a leaf of this plant while hiking and put it in your shoe to help with blisters. I find it also to be an absolutely ideal diaper rash treatment and include it in all the baby balms I make to use on my toddler or sell. It’s readily available for wild crafting and a wonderful addition to any infused oil or salve.

Violet leaf (Viola odorata) is highly demulcent, which means that it contains significant amounts of mucilage that help soothe the skin, reducing inflammation, redness, and cooling irritated tissue. Violet is also antiseptic, and this combined with its soothing relief, makes it a wonderful infused oil to have on hand. Susun Weed (Healing Wise, Ash Tree Publishing, 1989) writes about ‘Aunt Violet’ as a wonderful remedy for breast inflammation, mastitis, cancer and cysts, and a water infusion made of fresh or dried violet leaves can soothe inflamed throats during a cold or flu.  Violet’s mild taste makes it palatable to children, and indeed, violet leaves and flowers are wonderful when freshly picked and added to a spring salad.  A salve made purely of the oils of these two plants combined with some natural beeswax is all I need to combat diaper rash in my household, and there is lots left over for myriad other uses.  

5/29/2014 8:53:37 PM

I was wondering if you could help me make a salve that is said to help with cancer. St. Hildegard says to; take violets, press out their juice, and strain it through a cloth. Add olive oil one-third the weight of the juice and take just as much billy goat's fat as violet juice. Boil everything in a clean pot and prepare a salve. I have no idea how to begin to make this salve. Could you help me? Or direct me to someone that could? Thank you, Joyce

2/18/2013 1:18:53 PM

Is 1 teaspoon rosemary oil extract kind of essential oil or extract? thanks

Tina Williford
11/15/2012 6:08:17 AM

Hi! I am curious to ask you something about the violet oil. When making plantain oil I have observed the "pepperoni-like" smell that others have noted. Now, I made my first violet oil last spring and it's not something familiar to me or that I could find much about online. Does it smell pretty strong and pungent? It was suggested to me that maybe what's putting me off is it doesn't smell like violet flowers. Obviously, it's made from the leaves, not the flowers. My oil is just so darned strong smelling that I wasn't sure about using it! But after keeping it sitting it has not turned rancid, so I am starting to think that's just how it smells. :)

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