Parsley is a familiar kitchen herb that is easy to grow and makes an ideal container plant. The bright green curly leaves are widely used in cooking and as a garnish. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C , E and iron. Parsley has been used in the Mediterranean region for well over 2000 years, where it was cultivated mainly as a medicinal plant.
When taken by mouth, the herb has three main areas of usage. First, it is an effective diuretic that helps the body eliminate excess water, and may be used whenever such an action is desired. It is also used to stimulate menstruation as well as relieve premenstrual water retention. Finally, it has value to ease flatulence and accompany colic pains. Medicinal use of parsley during pregnancy is not advisable, as it may cause excessive stimulation of the womb.
Freshly gathered leaves of parsley have been used as a poultice to relieve breast tenderness in lactating women. Such poultices may also soothe tired, irritated eyes, and speed the healing of bruises. Rubbing the leaves onto insect bites is a traditional way of soothing them.
Parsley has also been used traditionally as a means of breaking up kidney stones. The German Commission E, a governmental advisory panel, has approved parsley for use in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones.