Parsley (Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Fuss, 1866) is a biennial plant used since ancient times both in the kitchen, as a spice, and for other uses.
Origins and History –
Parsley was well known by ancient peoples who used it for particular purposes.
Already in ancient times parsley was known as a pain reliever plant, especially in the presence of toothache and headache. In fact, the Greeks were among the first to use it for these purposes.
In ancient Rome, parsley was already known as an aromatic plant. Other peoples instead believed that it was magical, the Etruscans were among them.
There are many stories that interest parsley. One of these takes us far back in time and concerns old popular beliefs that interested farmers. That is, when the plant was in the garden it provided protection against evil, but if removed or transplanted the devil himself could have access to the property.
The Greeks adorned their heads when they attended the banquets, as they were convinced that its scent gave a note of joy and stimulated appetite.
The Romans used it to decorate the tombs of their relatives, while the Etruscans, as mentioned, considered it a magical plant, useful in propitiatory rites or in the pharmacopoeia to prepare ointments.
Discoride (1st century AD) attributed medicinal properties to parsley, as it stimulated diuresis and caused the appearance of menstruation, also alleviating pain.
It was in the Middle Ages that, after losing the symbolic Roman association with the world of the dead, parsley gained great popular recognition.
In ancient times, especially in the Middle Ages, it was also used as an emmenagogue and abortion, due to the apiolo, a main component, which contracts the smooth muscles of the intestine, bladder and uterus.
His presence became habitual in the kitchen, hence the motto “being like parsley” to indicate something or someone omnipresent.
With shredded or pounded leaves, compresses were made to be applied on insect bites or to medicate decayed teeth.
The juice was used to block the nose bleeding, the stem was used for love filters, the roots were basic elements of ointments, the decoction was taken as an aphrodisiac.
The latter virtue, linked not only to the properties of the plant but also to its rapid regrowth power, finally found the official esteem of a doctor and historian in the 17th century.
Salvatore Massonio supported the thesis that parsley aroused erotic arousal in the male, as in the female it favored the flow of blood to the genital organs due to the appearance of menstruation.
After a period of oblivion, the pharmacological use of parsley found new credit in the mid-nineteenth century, when some researchers confirmed its emmenagogic properties. Consumption became so widespread that, in addition to using the plant officially to cause menstrual flow, it was prescribed clandestinely in massive doses to promote abortion.
Parsley grown both in pots and in the garden, although suffering from the hot climate, has fast growth. If the leaves are wilted, once watered it is possible to see them “rise” in a few minutes, and if cut, they reject them.
In contemporary cooking, parsley is widely used to decorate numerous cooked and raw dishes, and to flavor sauces and fillings.
Parsley is a herbaceous plant, which grows biennially in temperate areas and annual in tropical areas.
It is characterized by a sturdy taproot root, yellowish white in color.
The leaves are completely hairless and have a jagged triangular outline, they can be bipennatosette or tripennatosette.
The inflorescence is an umbrella consisting of fifty small flowers with five white petals, sometimes suffused with blue-violet or yellowish.
The fruits are globular, ovoid achenes, with 5 distinct ribs, gray-brown or light in color, with an accentuated and characteristic aroma.
Active principles –
Parsley owes its characteristics, both food and therapeutic, to the particular composition of the substances contained.
In fact, this spice has an excellent chemical composition, which proves suitable for various circumstances.
Parsley has, in fact, good quantities of water, vegetable proteins, fiber and carbohydrates. It also has sugars and fats, excellent also the presence of mineral salts including:
– magnesium, sodium, calcium, zinc, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and not only.
This plant also has numerous amino acids and vitamins.
We remember the presence of vitamins A, C, E, K and J.
Also, don’t forget the B vitamins, that is B1, B2, B3, B5, B6.
Properties and Uses –
Parsley uses both leaves and stems, and more rarely the root, both for fresh consumption and for the preparation of sauces, soups and fish.
It is an ingredient used in many dishes and in many sauces. It is used, for example, chopped to add to salads or clam sauce or vice versa with whole leaves in roasted fish. It has a pungent and slightly bitter taste that revives the flavor of other herbs.
It is also used for medicinal use.
For external use, the pounded leaves pack is used which is used to relieve insect bites, bruises and toothaches. The pulp of the leaves applied on the breasts causes the milk to regress.
For internal use, parsley has diuretic and sweat properties, mainly due to a flavonic substance: the apioside. In Chinese herbal medicine it is also used as a remedy for high blood pressure.
In past times it was also used as an emmenagogue and abortion. Remember, however, that the infusion of parsley can cause very serious internal bleeding that can even lead to death. In fact, parsley can produce a hemolytic poison, that is, it can act on the red blood cells of the blood, destroying them, so the blood coagulates and forms an internal hemorrhage, which leads to death.
Furthermore, remember that it can trigger intolerances or allergic reactions towards some hypersensitive subjects to the compounds of the plant. Experts also say that pregnant women must relate to the assimilable daily quantities, so as not to incur various types of disorders. The same goes for women who are breastfeeding. Among the side effects that can arise (due to excessive use) we mention kidney stones and gout.
For this reason, the use in massive uncontrolled quantities is highly discouraged.
Let’s see, however, in detail, what are the properties and benefits of parsley:
– Diuretic; of the many therapeutic properties found in parsley, its diuretic action is placed at the top. In fact, it supports the body in the expulsion of liquids and also takes care of the urinary tract, as it is good anti-inflammatory. We must thank the mineral salts of which as we could see a little while ago, parsley is rich in it.
– Immunostimulant; it is not new that the parsley plant can provide support for the immune system. Just think of how many vitamins are included in it, they exert an antioxidant action. We remember precisely A, C and vitamin E. What happens then? The body reacts better against attacks by viruses and bacteria. It is no coincidence that parsley has been used for these purposes by man since ancient times.
– Mineralizing; the plant is a natural supplement as it is rich in excellent substances including many mineral salts. In fact, its use can alleviate exhaustion, useful if you use it after doing gymnastics or any type of physical activity. Parsley herbal tea is an excellent ally in this regard.
– Free radicals; substances with antioxidant action (such as vitamin A and C for example) present in parsley not only strengthen the immune system, but also offer protection against the attack of free radicals. These molecules are harmful in that they cause cell aging as well as their possible oxidation. An effect that leads to the appearance of degenerative and heart diseases. It is good to stock up on antioxidant foods to protect body and mind.
– Antibacterial; the antibacterial properties of parsley are noteworthy and its consumption helps the body protect itself naturally. This is precisely to counteract as well as prevent the attack by bacteria. The latter always lurking, that’s why you need to be prepared and be able to count on a healthy and balanced diet. The substance present in the plant and which makes this effect possible is chlorophyll.
– Halitosis; there are numerous plants present in nature that you can use to combat halitosis. Among these we naturally remind you of the dear and well-known parsley. But it is not only useful against bad breath, it is also excellent for oral hygiene. That is, it is a natural disinfectant.
– Digestive; another effect that does not go unnoticed is precisely to facilitate digestion. However, we are not talking about the parsley plant but about its essential oil. Its use can stimulate gastric secretion and therefore promote the digestive process.
– Promotes intestinal motility; a worthy ally for promoting intestinal motility is parsley oleolite. The plant is therefore, used by man since ancient times and as we can see its versatility is impressive. Those suffering from constipation can enrich their dishes with parsley so as to stimulate the exit of the stool.
As mentioned, the use of parsley in the kitchen dates back to the time of the Romans and Greeks, who also used it as a medicinal plant, to treat gingivitis and abscesses.
Let’s see in detail how parsley can be used.
Parsley is very aromatic, in fact it is perfect for flavoring numerous recipes. Parsley leaves and stems can be used: cut thinly they give flavor to all dishes, as long as they are used freshly cut. The longer you wait, the more the aromatic qualities of this plant are compromised. On vegetables, meat and fish, but also with eggs, mushrooms and cheeses: there are many dishes on which you can taste its fresh and persistent aroma. To savor it at best, remember to put it when it is cooked: the heat destroys the essential oils that release a bitter aroma to the preparations. In a nutshell it is used to season pasta, up to fish.
You can try some excellent recipes such as octopus salad with parsley and lemon. Eggs with parsley are also very tasty, or pappardelle with parsley as a first course. We could continue indefinitely since, as we said previously, the plant is versatile as well as one of the most popular in the kitchen, not surprisingly it is grown everywhere, even on the balconies of the house.
Among the uses in the therapeutic field we mention:
– Herbal tea with parsley; the parsley herbal tea is easy to make, it takes little time and as primary ingredients we only need the plant in question. So all we have to do is take a pot and add some water. Generally, to make a little, there are those who prepare about a liter of it. So let’s put the pot on the fire and light the flame. Then set the medium cooking. As soon as it reaches boiling point, add a handful of parsley to the water. We must take care to cook for another 10 minutes and only after that, remove everything from the stove. As soon as the herbal tea has cooled, we can filter it and pour it into a glass bottle. We consume only a cup of parsley tea during the day. The benefits obtained are many, for example it is useful for the urinary system and is a very good diuretic. It also fights halitosis, boosts the immune system and more.
– Parsley oil; the parsley oil is good, healthy and very aromatic. It is also perfect for seasoning an infinite number of dishes. His recipe is very simple, here we report it here. All you need is a glass jar, this is the container where the parsley oil is stored. Of course, the jar must be sterilized before use. For the oleolito recipe, all we have to do is take the parsley leaves to wash them thoroughly. Then we have to dry them meticulously and then put them in our jar. Once this is done, add the extra virgin olive oil, let’s remember that we have to cover it well. Now comes the most boring part, the wait. We have to seal the container and let about 3 weeks pass. After this long wait, the oleolite will be ready. Remember that it must rest in a place away from light and heat sources. Finally we filter everything well, so as to eliminate the leaves. This time we keep the product inside a bottle with an airtight seal.
Warning: The information shown is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.