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Parsley is an effective tonic to the urinary system and kidneys

Parsley

Petroselinum crispum Umbelliferae

Parsley is an effective diuretic, encouraging the elimination of excessive water and toxic heat from the body.

  • How does it feel?

    Parsley is a perennial plant from the carrot family, Umbelilferae, native to the Eastern Mediterranean but is now naturalised throughout Europe. It can grow to heights of 1 meter and forms rosettes of bright green tri-pinnate leaves with numerous leaflets. The flowers form characteristic umbels from the top of the plants stem. The whole plant produces a pungent, slightly bitter scent that is transferred to the plants taste.

  • What can I use it for?

    The essential oil present in parsley contains apiole which is responsible for the majority of the plants medicinal activity. Apiole has demonstrated relaxant effects upon the nervous system, particularly within the digestive tract. Apiole also stimulates the urinary tract and the kidneys, acting as an effective tonic and diuretic. Parsley is a natural source of Vitamin C, and can support an underactive immune system.

  • Into the heart of Parsley

    The medicinal uses of parsley are indicated primarily within the urinary tract and the kidneys. It is an effective diuretic, encouraging the elimination of excessive water and toxic heat from the body. The stimulating properties of apiole also indicate parsley in conditions such as kidney stones and jaundice, where the flow of blood and bile is in some way inhibited, influencing the buildup of inflammation within the urinary tract.

    Parsley also stimulates a delayed menses and the production of breast milk; however, its strong stimulation of the uterus makes it contra-indicated in early stages of pregnancy.

    Parsley will calm an over-active digestive system, acting as an anti-spasmodic and relieving symptoms such as flatulence, colic and digestive spasms.

    Urinary and kidney: Indicated in toxic heat and inflammation seated within the urinary tract and kidneys and in conditions such as kidney stones, jaundice and excess fluid retention.

    Digestive: Indicated where there is pain and muscle cramping within the digestive tract, relieving nervous based indigestion, flatulence and colic.

    Female reproductive: Parsley is a stimulant to the uterus, encouraging a delayed or absent menses. Also acts as an emmenagogue, encouraging breast milk production during breast-feeding.

  • Did you know?

    The essential oil present in parsley is a photo-sensitiser and can increase an individual’s sensitivity to light when consumed in high quantities.

Additional information

  • Safety

    Caution with diuretics, Lithium, Warfarin. Serum levels of medications may be increased as herb inhibits several cytochrome liver enzymes.

  • Dosage

    Tincture: 1-2ml three times daily (1:5, 40%).

    Dried: 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water.

    External uses: A poultice or fomentation for conjunctivitis, mastitis, swollen breasts, bruises, sprains, insect bites & stings. Lotion for skin problems including acne & eczema.

  • Traditional energetics

    • Rasa (taste) Pungent, bitter, salty.
    • Virya (action) Heating.
    • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Pungent.
    • Guna (quality) Light, dry, sharp/ penetrating (leaves), oily/unctuous.
    • Dosha effect KV–P+.
    • Dhatu (tissue) Rasa/plasma, rakta/ blood, mamsa/muscle.
    • Srotas (channels) Mutra/urinary, anna/ digestion, artava/female reproductive, rasa/lymphatic.
parsley illustration
Aromatic
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitter
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Cooling
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Hot
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilaginous
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resinous
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
Salty
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
Sharpness
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
Sweet
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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