Parsley is native to the Mediterranean and has reportedly been used for more than 2,000 years as an herbal remedy, seasoning, and garnish. In ancient Rome, parsley was a sacred herb of burial and was served at funeral banquets. This is thought to be the origin of the modern use of parsley as a garnish decorating plates of food. Romans wore garlands of parsley in the belief that it would excite the brain and stimulate the appetite. Later, victors of athletic contests were crowned with garlands of parsley.
The forms of parsley most commonly used for medicinal purposes are Petroselinum crispum (curled-leaf parsley) and Petroselinum neapolitanum (Italian parsley, also known as flat-leaf parsley). Chinese parsley, also known as coriander or cilantro, is a different species, Coriandrum sativum.
Parsley has traditionally been used as a digestive aid, breath freshener, laxative, diuretic, general-purpose tonic, abortifacient (miscarriage inducer), and a poultice applied to the skin for treatment of burns, bruises, insect bites, and itching.
There is evidence that parsley may act as an antioxidant, diuretic, or blood sugar-lowering agent. Parsley is currently used in Turkey to treat diabetes and in Germany as a diuretic in the treatment of high blood pressure.
Parsley is available in capsule form as an oil, root, leaf, or seed preparation. The oil is the strongest form, followed by the seeds. These two more powerful preparations should be avoided during pregnancy, because they may cause uterine contractions and induce abortion.
Parsley is listed in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.
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: The most common forms of parsley used for medicinal purposes are Petroselinum crispum (curled-leaf parsley) and Petroselinum neapolitanum (Italian parsley, also known as flat-leaf parsley). Chinese parsley, also known as coriander or cilantro, is a different species, Coriandrum sativum. This monograph focuses on the Petroselinum species.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Antioxidants are molecules that work to prevent damage that occurs in cells and body tissues due to both normal bodily processes and exposure to some chemicals. The potential medical benefit of antioxidants may be their ability to prevent or slow the oxidation of molecules, such as proteins and DNA, in the body. Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in many human diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. A small clinical trial noted that parsley reduced oxidative stress.
High blood pressure
Based on early research using a combination product containing parsley leaf, it is unclear whether parsley is effective for lowering blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure or whether it may increase the risk of side effects.