Origin

This is the root of Petroselinum sativum (Apium Petroselinum, Linn.), a biennial, umbelliferous, herbaceous plant, indigenous in the South of Europe, but cultivated everywhere in gardens for culinary purposes.

Properties

The root is long, spindle-shaped, about as thick as the finger, wrinkled transversely, fleshy, externally white, internally white towards the circumference, but yellowish in the centre, of an agreeable odour, and a sweetish, aromatic, peculiar taste, which it loses in great measure by boiling, and also when long kept. it should be used in the recent state.

The seeds, which have similar diuretic properties, but are more aromatic, and keep better, may be used for the same purposes. They have a somewhat terebinthinate odour, and a warm, aromatic taste. Both these and the root probably owe their virtues to a peculiar volatile oil, which pervades the whole plant. A peculiar principle, denominated apiol, has been extracted from the seeds, and is believed to possess remarkable medical virtues. For the mode of preparing it, see the U. S. Dispensatory. it is a yellowish, oily, non-volatile liquid, of a characteristic tenacious odour, of an acrid pungent taste, inflammable, insoluble in water, and very soluble in alcohol, ether, and chloroform. it is analogous to the fixed oils, but is not like them affected by the alkalies.

Medical Effects and Uses

Parsley has long been used as a popular remedy in various disorders, and among others in dropsy. it possesses diuretic and feeble carminative properties, and is occasionally used, in the form of infusion, as an adjuvant to more energetic medicines of the class. it owes much of the reputation which it possesses in this country to the recommendation of the late Professor Chapman, who, in his Elements of Therapeutics (2d ed., i. 270), speaks of it in the following terms: "I know of no diuretic more valuable in certain cases. in dropsy, it has undoubtedly done good, having within my own knowledge cured ascites, where tapping had been twice used." He considered it, however, still better adapted to dysentery, and found it useful in strangury, and the painful micturition of nephritis. One of its advantages is that it is readily retained by the stomach. The infusion may be made with an ounce of the bruised root to a pint of boiling water, and the whole taken, in divided doses, during the day.

Apiol is thought by some to have antiperiodic properties scarcely inferior to those of quinia, and has proved very successful in the treatment of intermittent fever. it has also been found to be an energetic emmenagogue, and has been successful in the treatment of dysmenor-rhoea. The dose of it is four or five grains, morning and evening; but it may be given much more largely with impunity. According to the experience of MM. Joret and Homolle, 15 grains cause a slight cerebral excitement without unpleasant effect; and in double or quadruple this quantity, it gives rise to a species of intoxication, with giddiness, perverted sight and hearing, and headache; altogether not unlike the effects of excessive doses of quinia.