Parsley is an annual herb in the tropics and a biennial herb in temperate climates in the Apiaceae family. Originally from the central Mediterranean of Southern Italy and Northern Algeria and Tunisia, it’s now found cultivated worldwide. Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves with numerous leaflets, and a white taproot used as a food store over the winter. There are several varieties, the most common being the curly leaf and the flat leaf varieties, the flat leaf being stronger in flavor and more tolerant of strong sun and rain. Typically the roots are collected from two year old plants, and the leaves can be collected at anytime during the growing season. It is a good companion plant, as it can reduce harmful pests and encourage pollinators such as bees and swallowtail butterflies in the garden. It’s known to make roses grow healthier and more fragrant. Parsley thrives in moist, well draining soil in full sun, and is usually started from seed.
Parsley leaf, root, and seed is commonly used in cooking around the world, and is high in vitamin C, iron, calcium, and magnesium. It’s thought to be a good anti-oxidant, scavenging free radicals, and improving skin, eye, and hair quality. It has three main areas of medicinal use; The root can be prepared as a warming diuretic, helping to treat cystitis and urinary tract, especially when a chill or weakness is present. It can be taken as a daily kidney and urinary tract tonic and is useful in treating kidney stones. The second main usage is of the leaves and seeds as a carminative, soothing indigestion and easing flatulence. The third main medicinal use is of the leaves as an emmenagogue, which stimulates the menstrual process or delayed menses. Because it can help soften the cervix and stimulate uterine contractions, it is often used as a pessary (vaginal insert) or drunk as a tea along with other herbs to help induce miscarriages, and is often taken after birth to tone and soothe the uterine muscles. Parsley infusions can also help ease rheumatic joint pain. Externally, leaf poultices can soothe sprains and cuts, and an infusion of the leaves is used to tone the skin and hair, while an infusion of the seeds can kill scalp parasites.
As an infusion, 1-2 teaspoons of leaf or root per cup of water, infused in a closed container for 5-10 minutes, taken three times daily. As a tincture, 2-4ml three times daily.
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