Parsely is an erect, biennial or short lived perennial herb with a fleshy aromatic tap root and dark green shiny leaves which rise from a short stem. There are two groups of parsley. One group is with plain leaves and the other with curled leaves, commonly known as moss-curled.
The Romans used parsley as a remedy for sore eyes and as a tonic to increase the strength of their gladiators. The large amount of vitamin A and C contained in parsley bears out their practice.
Parsley is a native of Southern Europe. It can be grown successfully throughout the tropics, but tends to decay rather quickly near the equator. It is widely grown in the Philippines, Malaysia, East and West Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. It is not commonly grown in India.
An analysis of parsley shows it to consist of moisture 74.6 per cent, protein 5.9 per cent, fat 1.0 per cent, minerals 3.2 per cent, fibre 1.8 per cent, carbohydrates 13.5 per cent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 87.
Parsley contains a glucoside apiin and an essential oil which contain apiol. The fruits contain coumarin.
Parsley is rich in ascorbic acid and hence is a good blood cleanser. It increases the secretion and discharge of urine and relieves flatulence. Raw parsley juice has some metabolic properties for the normal functioning of the adrenal and thyroid glands.
Parsley aids digestion and helps prevent the formation of gas within the stomach and intestines. It is one of the most popular remedies for indigestion. A couple of sprigs of the fresh herb or a quarter teaspoon of the dried herb can be taken with a glass of water in this condition. As fresh parsley is sometimes rather tough, it should be well masticated.
According to Dr. R.D. Pope, who has done considerable research on the subject, parsley is "excellent for the genito?urinary tract, being of great assistance in the calculi of the kidneys and bladder, albuminuria, nephritis and other kidney troubles") It has been used as an effective food remedy for dropsy.
The elements in parsley help to maintain the blood vessels, particularly the capillaries and arterial system, in a healthy condition. It is thus very useful in high blood pressure. It may be taken as a beverage by simmering it gently in water for a few minutes, several times daily.
Raw parsely juice, mixed with carrot juice, is effective in all ailments connected with the eyes and the optic nerves. It is good for weak eyes, ulceration of the cornea, cataracts, conjunctivitis and opthalmia or sluggishness of the pupil.
The herb is an effective remedy for scanty menstruation. It 1. Dr. SJ. Singh, Food Remedies, 4th edition, published by Nature Cure Council of Medical Research, Lucknow, 1982. also assists in the regularization of the monthly periods. This action is due to the presence of apiol, a constituent of the female sex hormone- estrogen. Cramps as a result of menstrual irregularities are relieved and frequently corrected by the regular use of parsley juice, specially when combined with beet, carrot and cucumber juices.
Bruised parsely is good as an application to the bites and stings of insects. Likewise, it is very effective when applied on bruised and inflamed joints. It is a most cleansing suppuration when applied to open wounds.
Parsley is a very effective remedy for bad breath. Boil 2 cups of water with coarsely chopped parsley sprigs and 2 or 3 whole cloves or a quarter tablespoon ground cloves. The mixture has to be stirred frequently while cooling. It is then strained and can be used as a mouthwash or gargle several times a day.
The herb has also proved beneficial in the treatment of boils. It should be steeped in boiled water till it is soft and juicy. It can be applied to the boils when comfortably hot and wrapped with clean muslin or linen.
Precautions: Raw parsley juice is an extremely potent remedy. It should never be taken in quantities exceeding 60 ml at a time, especially when mixed with a larger quantity of carrot or other raw vegetable juices such as celery, lettuce or spinach.
Parsley can be added freely to salads and soups. Uncooked parsley is palatable and easy to digest when used by itself or cooked with other green vegetables like cabbage or roots. It can also be dried and used. Parsley can be taken as a beverage, simmering it gently for a few minutes and partaking of the water.