Parsley is most well known as being garnish. It brings a splash or green to the plate (which most American diets are lacking) but it also goes uneaten most of the time. An estimated 90% of parsley gets thrown away! That's just silly especially with all that parsley has to offer.
Parsley leaf (Petroselinum spp.) is sweet and moist with a neutral temperature. Its sweet flavor is an indication that it is very nourishing as it is high in chlorophyll, Vitamin C, potassium, iron and beta carotene. Parsley's ability to moisten is a benefit to conditions that are dry and irritated especially in the kidneys and its neutral temperature means that it can be useful in cases of heat and cold.
As Hoffmann states, Parsley has three main indication. First is its action on the kidneys as a diuretic. By stimulating urination and draining water, Parsley helps with edema, fluid retention, bed-wetting, dropsy, gout, kidney gravel and stones, urinary tract infections with pain and cystitis.
Second, is Parsley's effect as an emmenagogue, stimulating menstruation. Parsley seeds are a galactagogue, helping to increase breast milk production,; however the leaf is drying to breast milk, making it effective when trying to weaning your baby or when you have swollen or engorged breasts.
Lastly is Parsley's carminative effect, easing gas causing pain and indigestion. The essential oils in parsley help with digestion by increasing circulation to the digestive system.
There are also several other, more random, medicinal uses for Parsley. Jethro Kloss claimed that parsley was also good for cancer prevention. I would think that parsley would be more effective for cancers of the digestive system and perhaps the urinary system. Due to its mildly estrogenic effect, I do not think parsley would not be effective at preventing women cancers such as breast, ovarian or cervical. Parsley also helps to enhance immunity and a tea of parsley can be used externally to ease the pain of bug bites or stings or as a hair rinse for dandruff.
For an infusion of parsley use 1 to 2 teaspoons covered with boiling water and infuse for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy about 3 cups of tea a day. For a tincture take 1-2 ml 3 times a day (1:5 in 40% alcohol). The German Commission E suggests no more that 6 grams daily. Also, use food as medicine. Use the leaf chopped in salads, soups and entrees. It's tasty and medicinal.
Parsley can cause allergic reactions and therapeutic doses may cause photosensitivity if you have fair or sensitive skin. You may want to avoid tinctures and concentrated extracts in cases of kidney inflammation and definitely avoid therapeutic doses during pregnancy due to its ability to stimulate menstruation and its mildly estrogenic action and also avoid while nursing. Parsley may also increase the action of MAOI's.
So next time you are out to dinner, don't leave the parsley garnish laying hopelessly on your plate, destine for the trash. Do your body a favor and eat it. This concludes our week of garden and kitchen herbs. I hope you found this helpful, knowing that healing with herbs can be very easy and accessible.
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Duke, J. A. (2000). The green pharmacy herbal handbook: your comprehensive reference to the best herbs for healing. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Reach.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Kloss, J. (1982). Back to Eden. Loma Linda, CA: Back to Eden Books.
Levy, J. d. ( 1997). Common herbs for natural health (Rev, expanded ed.) Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Pub.
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