Parsley is either grown as a biennial or a perennial, although the latter will not live for many years. It is native to the Mediterranean area, but now grows extensively throughout Europe and in parts of Asia. Parsley is a member of the plant family Apiece (Umbelliferae). In Great Britain, it is a very popular garden herb with many culinary uses. For the purposes of oil production, it is cultivated in countries that include Germany, Holland and France.
Parsley is high in vitamins A and C. In herbal medicine, it is used for problems of the kidneys and urinary tract and also in the treatment of arthritis. Parsley is pleasant to chew on as a breath deodorizer after spicy or garlicky food. It is also a digestive aid.
Essential oil of parsley is obtained by steam distillation of the plant. Two different oils are obtained – one from the seed and one from the foliage. Parsley oil is used to treat cystitis and other urinary infections. It also acts as a diuretic. It is an emmenagogue so can be used to treat scanty and irregular menstruation.
Massage with oil of parsley can aid digestion, having a carminative and stimulating effect. Parsley oil is also used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. Owing to its possible toxicity if used inappropriately, however, parsley is not recommended for use at home.
Warning: Not recommended for home use. Parsley oil can be toxic unless used in strict moderation. It is also a skin irritant. Warning: Not to be used during pregnancy. Parsley oil is an emmenagogue.