Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm.) is a herbaceous species of which the whole plant is used, from the leaves to the seeds to the root.
Origins and History –
Chervil is an annual plant imported into Europe by the Romans from southern Russia, the Caucasus or the Middle East which has now become naturalized in the American, North African and European flora where it grows spontaneously in the woods and meadows.
Chervil is an aromatic herb, belonging to the Apiaceae family, very similar to parsley in appearance and aroma, with a slight hint of anise in addition.
Its botanical name is Anthriscus cerefolium, whose original meaning is lost in history. “Anthriscus” derives from the Greek word “anthriskos”, while “cerefolium” derives from the Latin and it is not clear whether the meaning of this name is “hedge flower” or “cheer for the smell”.
Chervil was cultivated by both the Greeks and the Romans but it was in the Middle Ages that it reached its greatest popularity.
Pliny the Elder claimed that its boiled roots were used as a preventive method for the plague.
The abbess Hildegard of Bingen, author of famous twelfth-century medical treatises, advises Cerfoglio to relieve the pain of the spleen.
From the “Regimen sanitatis Salerni or Flos Medicinae” of the 12th century Salerno medical school: “The herb chopped chervil with honey (honey) combined benefits from cancer; and the pain calms, if removed it comes in pure dissolved wine; provoke so often even and vomiting and secess ”
In ancient medical texts, for example, a remedy for hiccups was used in which chervil leaves and vinegar were mixed. An interesting curiosity is that this plant was also called “myrris”: in fact, an essential oil is extracted from its leaves which has a scent reminiscent of myrrh, brought as a gift to Jesus by the Three Wise Men. This is linked to the tradition still alive in some European countries of consuming chervil soup during Easter celebrations, in particular on Holy Thursday, to celebrate new life. In tradition it is, in fact, the symbol of new life and sincerity.
The chervil plant can grow from 40 to 70 cm.
It has split-leaf leaves that can curl and small white flowers gathered in an umbrella-shaped inflorescence of about 2.5 cm in diameter.
The fruits are oblong and oval diachens, about 1 cm long. of this plant, as mentioned, everything is used, from the leaves to the seeds, to the root.
Active principles –
Chervil leaves are rich in vitamin C, iron, magnesium and carotene, they are beneficial for health as well as pleasant for the palate.
100 g of dried chervil contain on average:
– Water, 7.20 g;
– Protein, 23.20 g;
– Carbohydrates, g 19.10;
– Fat, g 3.90;
– Fibers, 11.3 g;
– Ashes, 16,60 g;
– Calcium, 1346 mg;
– Copper, 0.440 mg;
– Iron, 31.95 mg;
– Magnesium, 130 mg;
– Manganese, 2,100 mg;
– Phosphorus, 45.0 mg;
– Potassium, 47.40 mg;
– Selenium, mcg 29.30;
– Sodium, 83 mg;
– Zinc, 8.80 mg;
– Vitamin A, IU 5850;
– Vitamin RAE, 293 mg;
– B1, 0.380 mg;
– B2, 0.680 mg;
– B3, 5.400 mg;
– B5, mg 0;
– B6, 0.930 mg;
– Vitamin C, 50 mg;
– Folate, mcg 274.
The plant also contains 0.3% of essential oil and some of its main constituents are estragol and undecane.
100 grams of leaves have a caloric yield of about 237 kcal.
Properties and Uses –
The whole plant of Chervil is widely used, both in the medical and food fields.
Its leaves are widely used in skin care. They are used to treat inflammation, eczema, psoriasis and acne. In fact, thanks to its emollient properties, the plant is often used in the preparation of creams and lotions for skin care.
It has expectorant properties, it is therefore useful to remove mucus from the respiratory tract and to prevent cough and bronchitis.
Its intake facilitates the expulsion of liquids from the body through urination. Doing so helps remove toxins and metabolism waste materials with health benefits.
Herbal teas prepared with its leaves have digestive properties and bring benefits to the liver. Even eaten raw, thanks to the abundance of dietary fiber, it facilitates the digestive process. Chervil is also used as a tonic in the spring to restore strength to the spirit.
In the form of herbal tea it improves blood circulation and reduces cellulite. The plant is also used for the treatment of hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Chervil has anti-inflammatory and mildly analgesic action, its use can relieve pain caused by various inflammations.
It has a good content of antioxidant compounds that are able to counteract free radicals with consequent health benefits. Free radicals are the waste of human metabolism and are the cause of different types of tumors and other degenerative diseases.
According to current studies and results, it is evident that the extracts of aqueous chervil have antioxidant and anti-lipoperoxidant activity.
Its standardized aqueous extracts have been studied to evaluate the antioxidant properties of the plant. Numerous in vitro test methods have been used to determine the antioxidant potential of extracts from different vegetative parts such as roots and leaves.
A decoction prepared with its roots can bring benefits in cases of mild depression, especially in older people.
Taken together with celery, it has useful properties in the treatment of cystitis.
The highly concentrated chervil tea can be used to prepare compresses with which to treat red, inflamed and tired eyes.
In some areas of Europe, the infusion prepared such as leaves is used to lower blood pressure.
In ancient medical texts there is talk of a remedy for hiccups that made use of chervil leaves soaked in vinegar.
Chervil has no particular contraindications. The only caveat is to be careful, if you search for it autonomously, not to confuse it with other very similar plants belonging to the same family, which are however poisonous.
If you do not want to take this risk, you can buy it safely from authorized dealers who guarantee its quality and safety.
Chervil is quite rare to find in Italy fresh, more widespread than dried, with a more pungent flavor.
Chervil juice is commercially available for the production of poultices or balms and ointments to be applied both on wounds or pustules and on red skin; but also simply as beauty masks for the capture of free radicals (against premature aging).
Or you can buy the drug for infusions and decoctions, although more difficult to find as it is a plant that should be used preferably fresh (if left to dry it loses intensity in its beneficial effects).
If you have the opportunity to grow it, the ideal harvest for the leaves and flowers must take place at the beginning of flowering, before all the flowers have blossomed.
For the root, the balsamic time is in autumn, when the plant goes into vegetative rest.
The harvest is done by detaching the leaves by hand or with a scissor, to then be used as a condiment.
Chervil has a very delicate aroma that is lost both with drying and freezing.
It is indicated wherever parsley, of which it is distant relative, can be used, to which it is often preferred for its more delicate flavor. It can be added to soups, soups, white meats such as chicken and rabbit or eggs. It also goes well with legumes such as beans, beans and peas. In France they prefer it to parsley and frequently use it added to omelets and salads.
It is important to add chervil only at the end of cooking, so that the pleasant taste and its properties do not disperse it is in fact rich in vitamin C, iron, magnesium and carotene and therefore beneficial for health.
In addition to soups, vegetables, fish, eggs and poultry, it is also excellent in salads and particularly indicated with eggs.
Since, as mentioned, it has emollient properties, it is used to treat bruises, insect bites, eyes inflamed by the sun and wind, blepharitis, chilblains and in the preparation of poultices. The decoction was also used to wash the red parts of babies.
The infusion is used to treat dropsy, liver colic, rheumatism, gout and menstrual pain. It is considered a blood purifier.
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.