parsley relaxes smooth muscles

Photo by Andreea Stefan

Hungarian researchers have confirmed that Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) contains significant anti-inflammatory properties, boosts liver health, is antioxidant and even anti-carcinogenic. It also supplies numerous nutrients and relaxes smooth muscles.

Read the updated article in Plant Medicines

The research found that parsley contained numerous nutrients and bioactive constituents, including several flavonoids and cumarins. One flavonoid called apigenin has been shown to provide significant anti-tumor properties, as well as the ability to slow inflammation and neutralize oxidative radicals (free radicals). Its ability to stop tumor growth lies in its ability to block tumors from creating blood vessels.

Research published last December from China’s Jiangsu Polytechnic College of Agriculture and Forestry found that apigenin also blocked the action of MEK kinase 1, which in turn prevented bladder cancer cells from migrating and thus inhibited tumor growth.

Cumarins are natural blood thinning agents, as they provide anti-coagulating properties. This can aid circulation, especially in cases of edema (swelling). However, the cumarin content in Parsley is minor, and balanced by its many other nutrients. So it does not come with the side effects known for wayfarin and other isolated anti-coagulants.

The ability of Parsley to relax smooth muscles appears to come from its blocking of the polymerization of actin. This has significant importance to asthmatics, as a severe asthmatic attack will accompany the over-contraction of the smooth muscles around the lungs. Relaxing those smooth muscles is one key component of urgent care in asthmatic attacks.

Other bioactive constituents in Parsley include eugenol, crisoeriol, luteolin and apiin. Eugenol has been used by traditional doctors as an antiseptic and pain-reliever in cases of gingivitis and periodontal disease, and has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Parsley’s ability to encourage healing has also been shown in numerous studies.

For example, a study published this past February from Turkey’s Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine found that increased parsley consumption was associated with fewer complications after hematopoietic (bone marrow) stem cell transplantation in children.

In this study, the diets of 41 children who underwent the stem cell transplantation were analyzed. Improved outcomes were seen among those eating more Parsley, as well as those children who ate onions, bulgur, yogurt and bazlama (a Turkish yeast bread).

Parsley is also rich in numerous antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, folate and is one of the greatest sources of vitamin K, with 1640 micrograms per gram – over 12 times the U.S. DRI (dietary reference intake) of 90-120 micrograms per day. One hundred grams of Parsley also contains more than double the RDA for vitamin C and almost triple the RDA of vitamin A.

These antioxidant nutrients have been shown in other research to reduce the oxidation of lipids, relating directly to vision disorders, heart disease, dementia and other inflammation-related conditions.

Written by Case Adams

REFERENCES:

Pápay ZE, Kósa A, Boldizsár I, Ruszkai A, Balogh E, Klebovich I, Antal I. Pharmaceutical and formulation aspects of Petroselinum crispum extract. Acta Pharm Hung. 2012;82(1):3-14.

Liu Q, Chen X, Yang G, Min X, Deng M. Apigenin inhibits cell migration through MAPK pathways in human bladder smooth muscle cells. Biocell. 2011 Dec;35(3):71-9.

Tavil B, Koksal E, Yalcin SS, Uckan D. Pretransplant nutritional habits and clinical outcome in children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Exp Clin Transplant. 2012 Feb;10(1):55-61.