Green Medicine: Parsley
Highly nutritious, this relative of celery is one of the world’s most popular herbs. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally before being consumed as a food. The many phytochemicals in parsley provide a wide range of activities such as protecting the brain and liver, lowering blood pressure, and protecting the stomach’s gastric mucosa barrier. It exerts some analgesic, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal actions as well.1 Parsley leaves can be used chewed as an effective breath freshener. However parsley, as you will see, is not for everyone.
Parsley is an excellent source for vitamin K, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium. The flavonoids in parsley have been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. Myristicin in parsley has also been shown to activate the enzyme family known as glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs). These enzymes play a critical role in detoxification of toxins.
Parsley is a good source of folic acid. This vitamin is essential for healthy DNA. Folic acid is necessary for vitamin B-12 to do its work. The converse is also true. Without vitamin B-12, folic acid’s ability to work would be compromised. Both B-12 and folic acid help are necessary for healthy DNA and red blood cell production.
Parsley, as well as celery, onions, and oranges, provides an important phytochemical, apigenin. Apigenin exerts remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. This is important because free radical damage and inflammation contribute to and fuel chronic conditions such as gingivitis, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes.
Can Parsley Help You?
Carnosol found in rosemary, sage, and parsley has demonstrated anti-cancer effects and targets multiple pathways associated with inflammation and cancer.2 Carnosol helps to protect from prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer. Apigenin has been shown not only to possess remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties but cancer fighting activities as well.3 Apigenin has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, promote suicide (apotosis) of cancer cells, and inhibit the development of blood vessels to serve the growing tumor. Additionally, even more phytochemicals found in parsley and the parsley family (anise, caraway, celery, carrots, dill, fennel, and parsnips) actually block metabolic pathways associated with the development of cancer, or induce enzymes that help metabolize and eliminate cancer-producing agents.4
Parsley also improves urinary output. In other words, it is a natural diuretic. Parsley can promote menstrual flow.
Cautions and Contraindication
Parsley is not recommended during pregnancy because the seeds of parsley contain oil that can cause uterine contractions and may lead to abortion. Although traditionally parsley has been used for the treatment of kidney stones, it is high in oxalic acid which can actually promote the formation of a certain type of kidney stone.5 If oxalates become too concentrated in the body fluid, kidney or gallbladder stones may occur. Parsley should be avoided by individuals with kidney disease. Individuals with medical conditions or who use medicine (including over-the counter drugs) should consult with their pharmacist before using medicinal amounts of parsley.
Usage, Dosages, and Safety
The usual therapeutic dosage is 2 grams of parsley placed in a cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. This can be taken three times a day for a total of 6 grams of herbal preparation per day. Alternatively six capsules a day may be consumed.
This article provides general information and is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment for any diseases. The author, the Wildwood Herb Shop, or any entity of Wildwood Sanitarium, Incorporated, are not responsible for ill use of this article.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
- Farzaei MH, Parsley: a review of ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and biological activities. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Dec;33(6):815-26
- Johnson, JJ, Carnosol: a promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent. Cancer Lett. 2011 Jun 1; 305(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2011.02.005
- Patel D,Apigenin and cancer chemoprevention: progress, potential and promise (review). Int J Oncol. 2007 Jan; 30(1):233-45
- Craig, Winston, Herbs that Pack an Anticancer Punch, Vibrant Life, March 1, 2005
- Craig, Winston, Herbs for Your Health, Golden Harvest Publishers, 2011, p.90-93