What Is It?
A common herb found in kitchens and on party platters from Dresden to Detroit, the bright green parsley plant comes in numerous varieties. Different parsleys are distinguished primarily by the appearance of their leaves: Some are curly, others flat, still others divided or featherlike. Overall, the flat-leafed variety (Petroselinum crispum) is the one most commonly used for medicinal purposes.
Various formulations–including teas, juices, and fluid extracts–are made from the herb’s fresh or dried leaves, roots, and in some cases seeds. All are quite popular in Germany, where parsley is taken to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (the herb is a mild diuretic), to control indigestion and gas, and as a digestive aid.
And as an antidote to bad breath there may be no more effective–and convenient–option than a parsley sprig that you can pluck right off the dinner plate and chew until the odor passes.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with parsley.
Parsley is safe to use in commonly recommended amounts for cooking and medicinal purposes. But take care not to consume very large amounts of the herb–and particularly the seeds–over long periods of time. The high concentration of essential oil in the seeds could irritate the stomach, kidneys, and other organs.
David Edelberg, MD