Viola tricolor as phytomedicine for treating ulcerative colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract; it can manifest as ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, and rectal bleeding. Current case reporting guidelines suggest the use of anti-inflammatory (5-aminosalicylic acid, corticosteroids) and immunosuppressive drugs (6-mercaptopurin, azathioprine) or biologicals (infliximab, vedolizumab) in treatment. On account of common adverse effects and a lack of efficacy among standard therapies, a widespread discovery effort has been launched to identify new drugs derived from natural sources.

Phytomedicine is widely accessible, inexpensive, and easy to prepare, and it largely follows a long tradition of use. However, these herbal remedies are often associated with a lack of evidence-based pharmacological or preclinical efficacy, and of established safety profiles. It is evident that there are considerable opportunities for herbal medicine and natural products to become more established. Our previous findings provide a rationale for the use of V. tricolor preparations in therapies for disorders related to an overactive immune system.

For this study, we teamed up to perform cell-based signalling, mechanism-of-action, and toxicity studies with tea infusions (Ph. Eur.) and experimental herbal violet extracts. Further, we aim to extract, isolate, and chemically characterize novel immunomodulatory molecules drawn from these preparations. We will develop standardized extract preparations based on the bioactive compounds of V. tricolor. Furthermore, the safety and efficacy of an optimized herbal violet preparation will be assessed and documented in line with stringent and state-of-the-art case reporting guidelines, with a cohort of patients suffering from ulcerative colitis.

Viola tricolor