Parsley

An old favorite, parsley is versatile in the kitchen and in the medicine cabinet. Stuff it in your mouth, not the garbage can! 


When I think of parsley, fond memories come to mind. Growing up, we adorned our plates with parsley and called them "gourmet" meals. In college, I worked at a specialty food store and tasted Tabouli (a Lebanese salad made primarily of parsley) for the first time. Every year when we went to my husband's home for Thanksgiving, we chopped bunches of parsley for the stuffing. It was his mom's secret ingredient!

You'll still see parsley often used as a garnish, but unfortunately, it is usually pushed aside and thrown out with the scraps. Do yourself a favor and eat that sprig of parsley at the end of the meal. It's a great breath freshener and digestive aid, plus it's super-nutritious. Of course, one little sprig won't do much to noticeably change your health, but used in larger amounts (within reason) parsley is extremely beneficial.

Parsley is in the large Apiaceae (aka Umbelliferae) family, which is more commonly called the carrot or parsley family. Many of my favorite aromatic plants and herbs, like cilantro, cumin, celery and caraway are also members of this family. The two most common forms of parsley are the curly leaf and flat leaf varieties, and they have been a favorite herb throughout the ages and across the world.

Parsley is believed to have originated in Lebanon or the Middle East. Maybe it was first found in the garden of Eden! The Greeks held parsley in high esteem and considered it a sacred herb, not to be eaten, but to adorn the crowns of heroes and the dead.

Medicinally, parsley leaves, stems, seeds and roots are all beneficial. Parsley tea is an excellent diuretic, but it also relieves bloating and gas and acts as a mild laxative. Oil pressed from parsley seeds is recommended by herbalists to promote menstruation, which is why parsley in large doses is contraindicated for pregnant women. 

Parsley is considered a useful detox herb due in part to its diuretic and laxative properties that promote removal of toxins from the body. It is rich in chlorophyll, vitamins A, B, C, K and folate. If you take blood thinners and need to avoid K, consult your doctor. Parsley also has many minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vanadium, and zinc. Due to the combination of iron and C (which aids iron absorption), parsley is a good herb for those who tend to suffer from anemia. 

The plenitude of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are beneficial for the blood and circulatory system, immune system, and detoxification system. It has long been used to support the kidneys, liver and bladder. There's even a folk remedy that recommends rubbing a purée of parsley on the scalp and drinking a cup of parsley tea to promote healthy hair growth!

Dr. John Christopher, a pioneer of American herbalism and founder of the School of Natural Healing said, 

"Parsley is a specific for the adrenal glands, is powerfully therapeutic for the optic nerves, the brain nerves, and the whole sympathetic nervous system. [It is] an excellent tonic for the blood vessels... It is rich in vital minerals and contains more iron than any other green leafy vegetable. It is especially high in vitamins A and B, and it contains three times the potency of C than do citrus juices. It is a remarkable remedy for expelling watery poisons, excess mucus, flatulence, for reducing swollen and enlarged glands, etc."

Parsley remedies can be found around the world in Africa, China, India, Europe and the Americas, primarily to support the digestive system, the kidneys, the respiratory system, and as a salve for wounds.

Wow! I think it's about time I start garnishing my dishes with parsley again! I think I'll throw some into my morning smoothie as well. Parsley tea is another way to use it, which I recommend (along with cilantro) during my seasonal detoxes. Just be careful if you decide to juice parsley. It will be very concentrated and too intense if used alone. However, it combines very well with other fruits and vegetables. Most herbalists recommend no more than 1-oz. of parsley juice a day, and less if you suffer from kidney disease, take blood thinners or are pregnant. Parsley is a marvelous culinary and medicinal herb, but it can also be powerful. Therefore, always discuss using large amounts with your doctor.

References

Christopher, J. (1982).

School of Natural Healing, Herbal Reference Guide. Utah: Christopher Publications, Inc. 

Grieve, M. (1971).

A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications

Edible of the Month: Parsley and Cilantro  (2013)http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=201004-edible

Wikipedia: Apiaceae. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apiaceae

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™