Parsley for Better Digestion?

parsley
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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is an herb sometimes used for medicinal purposes. Often consumed as a food, it's also available in dietary supplement and tea form. Proponents suggest that extracts of parsley's leaves, seeds, and/or roots can help treat a number of health conditions, including digestive issues.

Parsley contains a variety of substances thought to influence health, including several antioxidant compounds, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Uses for Parsley

Parsley is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems: asthma, bad breath, colic, constipation, diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, indigestion, intestinal gas, kidney stones, osteoarthritis, sinus congestion, and urinary tract infections.

In addition, parsley is said to stimulate menstrual flow, boost appetite, strengthen the immune system, support detox efforts, and enhance libido.

When applied topically (i.e., directly to the skin), parsley is purported to promote healing from bruises, help treat insect bites, get rid of lice, and promote hair growth.

Benefits of Parsley

Although parsley has a long history of medicinal use (especially in treatment of digestive troubles), few scientific studies have looked at the health effects of this herb. Still, some preliminary research shows that parsley may offer certain health benefits.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2006 found that parsley may help protect against the liver damage commonly associated with diabetes.

In tests on diabetic rats, the study's authors observed that animals treated with parsley extract experienced an improvement in several markers of health, as well as a decrease in blood sugar levels. The authors note that antioxidants found in parsley appear to play a key role in the herb's diabetes-fighting effects.

The other available research on parsley's potential health benefits includes a preliminary study published in Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology in 2012. In the study, tests on cells taken from mice demonstrated that essential oil extracted from parsley may help suppress inflammation and, in turn, aid in treatment of inflammation-associated conditions such as seasonal allergies [link: .

Related: 4 Ways to Fight Inflammation Naturally

Safety

Parsley is generally considered safe when consumed in normal amounts in whole-food form in cooking. However, some people may experience allergic reactions to parsley.

Since parsley is high in vitamin K (a substance known to promote blood clotting), individuals using blood-thinning medication should avoid taking large doses of this herb. 

There's also some concern that consuming large amounts of parsley may be harmful to people with kidney disease.

Alternatives to Parsley

If you're seeking a natural treatment for digestive problems, a number of dietary supplements may be helpful.

For example, some studies show that taking artichoke leaf may soothe indigestion, while natural remedies like flaxseed and psyllium may ease constipation.

Other possible solutions for stimulating your digestive system include taking probiotics and practicing mindful eating.

Because stress appears to have a significant impact on digestive health, regular practice of stress-reducing mind-body techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing may help stave off digestive issues as well.

You can learn more about improving your digestion here.

Where to Find Parsley

Fresh parsley is widely available in grocery stores. Additionally, you can purchase dietary supplements containing parsley in many natural-foods stores and other stores specializing in natural products. Parsley supplements and parsley tea are also sold online. 

Sources

Ozsoy-Sacan O1, Yanardag R, Orak H, Ozgey Y, Yarat A, Tunali T. "Effects of parsley (Petroselinum crispum) extract versus glibornuride on the liver of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Mar 8;104(1-2):175-81.

Yousofi A1, Daneshmandi S, Soleimani N, Bagheri K, Karimi MH. "Immunomodulatory effect of Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) essential oil on immune cells: mitogen-activated splenocytes and peritoneal macrophages." Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2012 Apr;34(2):303-8.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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