The Dark Side of Parsley

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Who hasn’t gone to a restaurant and found a sprig of parsley decorating their plate?  In fact the Roman statesman Pliny boldly claimed “not a salad or sauce should be presented without it.”

What most people aren’t aware of is that parsley was once thought of as Satan’s plant.  This belief was thought to be due to the long germination time for parsley.  It was believed that the seeds had to pass through Hades a number of times before it would germinate. 

Throughout history parsley has been associated with death and dying.  Those close to death were said to be “in need of some parsley.”  Parsley was used to decorate tombs.  It was also said that transplanting parsley would cost you your life!

Eventually parsley was dedicated to the Goddess Persephone who is the Goddess of Spring as well as the Goddess of the underworld.  It began to be used to crown the winners in sporting events as well as being worn for protection.

Medicinally parsley has been used to remove “vermin” from the hair, to freshen breath and for its diuretic properties.

Medicinal Parsley

Parsley has many uses medicinally.  Some are

  • Anti Microbial
  • Anti Spasmodic
  • Anti Rheumatic
  • Laxative
  • Diuretic
  • Carminative

In modern times parsley tea is used as an effective diuretic.  Diuretics remove the excess water from tissue and the bloodstream and allow it to be passed as urine.  Consequently the less excess water in tissue and blood the easier it is for the heart to pump which is why diuretics are prescribed for high blood pressure.

Unfortunately this can increase the risk of gout and change blood sugar levels.  Those with diabetes should use caution and closely monitor their glucose levels if they use herbal diuretics.

Parsley is served on a plate for more reasons than just as a garnish.  As a carminative it can reduce bloating and gas after a large meal. 

Parsley has also been used throughout the ages to freshen breath.  Perhaps this is why parsley got the reputation as an aphrodisiac.  Prior to the modern invention of the toothbrush or even the older use of a stick to chew on to clean the teeth, eating parsley would freshen the breath which had to have made close encounters more palatable.

Parsley is used to treat menopausal complaints such as hot flushes.  It is useful to treat missing periods and is also a uterine tonic.  It should be avoided during pregnancy and while trying to get pregnant.

Parsley has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis and inflammation of the prostate gland.

Parsley is useful in many different ways.  Obviously its benefits overcame the bad reputation and we are grateful for that.