Parsley is mostly used in the culinary area but it has many other uses, such as chopped fresh leaves being used in soups, stuffings, minces, rissoles and also used as garnish over vegetable and salads. The leaves are cultivated extensively for the purpose of sending to markets fresh and also being dried and powdered to be used as a culinary flavouring especially in the winter months when the fresh supply is very low. The seeds, roots and even stems are used. The stem can be dried and powdered and used for culinary colouring and dyeing; the roots of the turnip-rooted variety are used as vegetable and flavoring; there is also a market for seeds to supply to nurserymen (Fig. 15.2).
Parsley, with its mystic aura being wrapped in folk tradition, is said to increase female libido, also help in promoting menstruation and ease the difficulties of childbirth (Review of Natural Products, 1991; Tyler, 1994). Parsley juice can be used in treating hives and other allergy symptoms; it also inhibits the secretion of histamine. Parsley has also been used as a liver tonic and helped in the breaking up of kidney stones. The German Commission E has approved parsley as a preventive measure and also for treatment of kidney stones. The parsley root can be used as a laxative and also helps to eliminate bloating. It can reduce weight by reducing excess water gain. The root can be used to relieve flatulence and colic, due to its carminative action. Parsley is rich in such minerals as calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, iron and vitamins such as A, C and niacin (Review of Natural Products, 1991; Gruenwald, 1998; Blumenthal, 1998; Tyler, 1994, 1998; Marczal et al, 1977). Parsley can be used as a tasty breath freshener owing to its high chlorophyll content. It also speeds the healing of bruises and soothes tired and lustre-lacking eyes. The juice soaked in a pad can relieve earache and toothache. Parsley can be used as a face wash to lighten freckles. Parsley juice relieves itch and stings from insect bites; it works amazingly well as a mosquito repellent. Lactating women have used the leaves of parsley as poultice to relieve breast tenderness. The powdered seeds of parsley are a folk remedy for hair growth and scalp stimulation if massaged into the scalp for three days. It also has strong antioxidant properties (Pizzorna and Murray, 1985). Parsley has other uses: the essential oil is used in commercial food flavourings and perfumes for men. Head lice can be eradicated if parsley is used as a hair rinse.
As a widely eaten food, parsley is generally regarded as safe. Though no interactions have been reported between parsley and standard allopathic medications, it may cause allergy in sensitive persons. Parsley contains furocoumarins - compounds that may cause photosensitivity in fair-skinned persons exposed to sunlight after coming in skin contact with the freshly harvested herb. An overdose of parsley's essential oil can lead to poisoning because of the toxicity in high doses. Persons with kidney diseases should not take parsley internally without consulting a physician because parsley is said to irritate the epithelial tissues of the kidney, hence enhancing the flow of blood and filtration rate. Pregnant or lactating women should not use parsley, as the oil-rich seeds contain a chemical, which is said to have abortifacient properties (Review of Natural Products, 1991; Tyler, 1994; Lagey et al., 1995; Stransky and Tsankov, 1980).
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