I have to admit during the summertime, I go a bit nuts about parsley at the farmers markets here in Boston. Of course, it always raises a few eyebrows when they ask what I’m making with it all and I respond “Tea, lots of tea…”
But I mainly take the opportunity to use the summertime abundance of fresh parsley for healing aspects which it is also awesome for.
There are two main cultivars of parsley that you see in stores, farmers markets and gardens - curly leaf (var. crispum) and Italian (flat leaf) (var. neapolitanum). Really being cultivars of the same species they are pretty interchangeable for most herbalist purposes. Personally though, I like the flat leaf better since it more closely resembles the original wild parsley. I like that illusion of wildness in the midst of big city urban living. ;-)
One of the first things to think about with parsley is built into its scientific name which roughly means "Rock Parsley" –- hinting to its use as an antilithic! Antilithics break up “stones” such as in the blockages known as calculi (plural of calculus) which are generally made of salts of acids or other things such as cholesterol. Think of it as a breaking up congestion and aiding the fluid and energetic flows of the body.
- A classic diuretic herb with antiseptic properties so it’s great for the helping problems with the urinary tract and is a nice part of a UTI protocol. It is also a great cleanse for the bladder and kidneys.
- A carmative and a nice digestive aid
- Tonifying and helpful with healing the thyroid and adrenals
- Decoctions of fresh parsley are helpful for excess phlegm and as a part of a treatment for respiratory ailments
- It’s been used externally as a wash or poultice for damaged skin or on dry, wounds, bruises, insect bites
- Decoctions have been used as part of hair rinses to help remove unwelcome guests in the hair.
- Considered both detoxifying and antioxidant – overly hyped terms but still useful actions!
- It contains potassium, calcium and iron as well as Vitamins A, B & C.
- Rich in apigenin (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is supposed to increase effectiveness of other antioxidants) and linked to lowering the risk of ovarian cancer. And while rosemary often gets the attention for helping with the brain - the apigenin in parsley is showing promise for stimulating neurons in the brain and helping with neurological diseases as well!
You can eat it, make a tea with the leaves and stems, and you can tincture them as well. The seeds and roots are also used - both as teas and tinctures – but they are more concentrated. You can juice the leaves but it can be a bit intense and overly strong in that form.
I tend to eat it regularly as well as make tea with it semi-regularly as a bit of health maintenance, but when I am dealing with a specific issue I may rotate in some nice decoction of it in smaller shots/juice glass sizes. In that situation, I treat it as something more strongly medicinal – which is it!
Treat it with the respect it is due and love it in moderation!
I always think of the song, Parsley My Dear:
Parsley my dear you have always been my inspiration
Be good to me Parsley my love
Don't forget me Parsley my dear
Sure, that is not really the song but it should be -- and is to me!