Parsley

Petroselinum crispum, Umbelliferae. The tap root, leaves and seeds of the plant are used.

The root is collected in the autumn from 2 year old plants. The leaves can be used at any time during the growing season.

Functions of parsley

Fresh parsley leaves are used widely in cooking. They are rich in vitamins especially vitamins A and C. Medicinally parsley has three main areas of use:

  • as an effective diuretic, helping the body get rid of excess water - so it can be used whenever this effect is desired (remember, however, that the cause of the problem needs to be sought and not to just treat the symptom). This may be useful in gout and rheumatoid and osteoarthritis where the increased production of urine will aid in the release of toxins from the body. It may also be used in cystitis and other urinary tract and kidney infection
  • as an emmenagogue stimulating the menstrual process. It will help relieve menstrual problems including pain and tension. It is advisable not to use excessive parsley during pregnancy as it may stimulate the uterus. It can be taken after childbirth to help contract the uterus and aid in milk production.
  • as a calmative easing colic pains and flatulence.
  • chewing a parsley leaf is also said to dispel the smell of garlic and onion and generally freshen the breath.

Notes on parsley

  • Small amounts used in cooking are generally safe but do not take the seeds in medicinal doses during pregnancy.

Dosages

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the leaves or root and let infuse for 5-10 minutes in a closed container. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

Grow parsley from seed in spring or autumn. The plants prefer a humus rich well drained position in the part shade.

Cut back the flower heads in the second year to encourage new leaf growth. Then allow it to go to seed as it will readily self seed. Parsley can sometimes be slow to germinate.

References

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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