Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, is a delicious culinary herb used medicinally as a diuretic. It’s vitamin and mineral rich and deserves to be used more than just as a garnish.
Parsley is native to the central Mediterranean region and naturalized throughout Europe.
Height: 60 cm (2 feet)
Width: 25 cm (10 inches)
Flowers: Green-yellow umbels.
Leaves: Highly aromatic, deep green
Root: Long and thick taproot resembling a parsnip
Blooms: Summer of the second year. Cut off the flowering stalks to extend the growing season.
Parsley is a biennial often cultivated as an annual as it turns bitter and flowers in the second year. It is subdivided in many cultivar groups with leaf parsley and root parsley being the two main groups.
Leaf parsley is subdivided in curly leaf and flat leaf, or Italian, groups. They differ in taste and many people prefer one over the other. Flat leaf is easier to cultivate because it it is more tolerating of sunshine and rain. Curly leaf is considered stronger in taste and it is considered more decorative as a garnish.
Root parsley is grown as a root vegetable. It forms a long taproot that is mild in flavor. It resembles parsnip but the taste is much different.
Hardiness: Zone 3
Germination: 2 to 6 weeks. High rate of failure due to the presence of furocoumarins in the seed coat. Presoak seeds to speed up the process. Sow 2 weeks before the last frost in modules or directly in situ as parsley is difficult to transplant when established.
Spacing: 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches).
Soil: Moist but well-drained, rich.
pH: 6 to 8
Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
Garden Design: Combine it in the herb garden with tagetes, calendula, chives, santolina and sage. It grows well and looks beautiful in pots.
Companion planting: Parsley is a wonderful companion plant to strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, onions and chives. Avoid planting it next to lettuce and beets.
Parsley should be dried fast if medicinal value is to be kept. It’ll turn brown if dried slowly. Hang a bushel upside down in a dark, dry and very well ventilated room. Let dry until the leaves crumble when pressed. Alternatively, dry the leaves in a dehydrator at 40 Celsius (104 F) until fully dried.
Essential oils, furocoumarins, flavonoids, phthalides, antioxidants (luteolin, apigenin), vitamins K, C and A, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
Diuretic, emmenagogue, carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, hypotensive
Root: slightly sweet and a bit pungent
MEDICINAL USE OF PARSLEY
Parsley is not only useful to freshen up garlic breath. It is also used to prevent and treat kidney stones. The essential oils present in root and seeds irritate the soft tissues of the kidney leading to contraction and expulsion of the stones. The essential oils also irritate the smooth muscles of the bladder, intestines and the uterus.
An emmenagogue, parsley stimulates the uterus and helps to stimulate the menstrual process.
Parsley seed is a much stronger diuretic than the roots. However, the seeds contain a high amount of apiole which is toxic in large quantities. Due to the side effects of pure apiole, parsley seed received a “negative monograph” from the Commission E . The herb and the roots received a “positive monograph”.
Used internally for:
- Kidney stones
- Stimulating the menstrual process
Recommended daily dosage:
Per British Herbal Compendium: 2 to 4 g dried herb or 2 to 4 ml fluid extract (1:1 25%) three times daily.
Per Commission E: 6 g herb per day
Tincture: (1:5 40%): 1 to 2 ml three times per day.
Tea: 1 to 2 teaspoons of leaf or root per cup of boiling water. Infuse in a covered container to prevent the essential oils from dissipating. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
- Infusion (tea)
The attractive parsley leaves are often used by many cultures to garnish dishes. In many parts of Europe, parsley root is used in soups, stews and casseroles, as well as a vegetable snack.
It is a very popular ingredient in salads in the Middle East such as tabbouleh.
In Brazil, it is used along with scallions in cheiro verde a key seasoning in many Brazilian dishes.
Parsley is the main ingredient in persillade, a seasoning mixture of chopped parsley and garlic. Sometimes herbs, oil and vinegar are also added to the mixture. Persillade is very popular in French, Greek, Cajun, Louisiana Creole and Québécois cuisines.
Allegic reactions are rare. Photosensitivity may occur after harvesting the roots because they are rich in furocoumarin.
Due to restricted heart and kidney function, avoid parsley in case of edema. Don’t use it if inflammation of the kidney is present and during pregnancy.
Hoffmann, D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
Keville, K. 1994. Herbs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Friedman/Fairfax Publishers
Weinrich, C. 2015. Mischkultur im Hobbygarten. 4th ed. Sttuttgart: Ulmer
Wichtl M. 2004. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals – A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: medpharm Scientific Publishers