The root of Petroselinum sativum, Hoffmann (Apium Petroselinum, Linné).
COMMON NAME: Parsley, Common parsley.
Botanical Source.—Parsley is a biennial plant with a fleshy, spindle-shaped root, and a round, striated, erect, smooth, branching stem. The radical leaves are biternate, bright-green, and borne on long, channeled petioles; the leaflets are rhomboidal-ovate, wedge-shaped at the base, deeply incised, the segments mucronate and sometimes rounded. The upper leaves gradually become more entire and narrower, till the uppermost are simply ternate with linear segments. Umbels terminal and axillary, pedunculated, with 5 to 8 rays. General involucre none, or 1 or 2 subulate, minute bracts; partial involucre with 6 or 8 setaceous bracts, much shorter than the pedicels, erect, forming a perfect whorl. The flowers are white or greenish; the petals rounded, incurved, and scarcely emarginate; the calyx with the limb obsolete; the disk short, conical, and somewhat crenulate; the styles diverging. The fruit is ovate, about a line long, corn pressed, pale greenish-brown, the back occupied by three elevated, pale primary ridges, the two others quite on the margin at the side. The stamens are longer than the corolla (L.).
History.—Parsley is a European plant, and was known as early as the first century. It is now cultivated in nearly all moderate climates as a culinary vegetable. The plant has a grateful aroma. The seeds, herb, and root, are the medicinal parts; the root has rather an agreeable odor, and a saccharine, slightly spicy taste, and should be used while fresh. The root and herb contain small quantities of a volatile oil; larger quantities are contained in the seeds.
Chemical Composition.—The root, besides sugar, starch, mucilage, and 0.08 per cent of essential oil, contains a peculiar body, named by Braconnot (1843) apiin. The essential oil from the root has a specific gravity of 1.049, and upon standing, deposits crystals, probably of apiol (see below). Parsley seeds contain fatty oil (about 22 per cent, Rump, 1836), volatile oil containing the well-defined crystallizable body apiol, tannin, gelatinous apiin (of Braconnot), and an oily substance apiol (Joret and Homolle, Jour. Pharm. Chim., 1855, p. 212). Parsley seeds yield, upon distillation with water about 2.8 per cent (4.27 per cent, H. C. Whitney, 1880) of an essential oil (oil of parsley), part of which is heavier than water. Crystals of apiol (formerly called parsley camphor) are formed by exposing the oil to a low temperature. Some oils are semisolid, owing to the presence of large quantities of apiol. Apiol (C12H14O4) melts at 30° C. (86° F.), and boils at 294° C. (561.2° F.), hence is not easily volatilized with the vapors of boiling water. It has the characteristic taste, but only a faint odor of parsley. Its chemical composition was cleared up, by Ciamician and Silber (1888 and 1890). It is soluble in alcohol and ether; almost insoluble in water. Oil of parsley also contains laevopinene (v. Gerichten, 1876).
APIOL, of Joret and Homolle, is an oily liquid which has the odor and taste of parsley; it is not miscible with water, has a specific gravity of 1.078, and was introduced as a febrifuge capable of supplanting quinine. It is probably not a uniform body, and is prepared by abstracting an alcoholic extract of the seeds, with chloroform or ether, removing fat by triturating the evaporated residue with lead oxide, and after 48 hours filtering through charcoal. The oil thus obtained is probably identical with the heavy part of the volatile oil from the seeds. Also see paper on this subject by H. C. Whitney (New Remedies, 1880, p. 7).
APIIN may be isolated from the seeds by extracting them with alcohol and removing apiol from the alcoholic extract by means of ether. The residue is purified by repeated solution in alcohol and precipitation with water. Similarly, apiin may be obtained from the herb, wherein it was first discovered. It is a white, tasteless, microcrystalline powder, soluble in warm alcohol and boiling water. Upon cooling it falls out, forming a jelly in as dilute a solution as 1 in 1500. It is soluble in alkalies, and is precipitated therefrom by acids. Aqueous solutions of apiin produce a deep blood-red coloration with ferric chloride (Braconnot). It is a glucosid, and is decomposed by the action of diluted acids into dextrose and apigenin Lindenborn, 1867; v. Gerichten, 1876).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—PARSLEY. Diuretic, relieving urinary irritation. Very useful in dropsy, especially that following scarlatina, and other exanthematous diseases. Also used in retention of urine, strangury, and gonorrhoea. Parsley seeds have a powerful odor, somewhat like that of turpentine, and a spicy, pungent taste, and have been used as a carminative, and for the same purpose as the root—they are said to be very poisonous to the parrot. The seeds as well as the leaves, sprinkled on the hair, in powder, or in the form of an ointment, will effectually destroy vermin; the leaves, applied as a fomentation, will, it is asserted, cure the bites or stings of insects. The leaves, bruised, are a good application to contusions, swelled breasts, and enlarged glands—reputed to "dry up the milk" of wet-nurses. The oil is efficient as a diuretic, in doses of 3 or 4 drops a day; dose of the infusion, 2 to 4 fluid ounces, 3 or 4 times a day.
Other tomes: BPC
APIOL.—In doses of from 7 to 15 grains apiol occasions a cerebral excitement similar to that caused by coffee, a sensation of vigor and composure, and warmth about the stomach; in doses of from 30 to 60 grains it causes intoxication, giddiness, flashes of light, vertigo and ringing in the ears, etc. It is highly recommended as a substitute for quinine in intermittent fevers, and has proved very efficient. It has likewise been found valuable in menstrual derangements; as fetid menstruation, neuralgic dysmenorrhoea, neuralgic uterine colic, amenorrhoea, etc.; also in the night-sweats of consumption. The dose is 3 to 6 grains, several times a day, beginning a couple of days prior to menstruation, given in gelatin capsules, or formed into pills with medicinal amygdalin soap, and magnesia, gum, or yellow of egg.
Preparation: Fluid Extract of Celery
Related Species.—Apium graveolens, Linné; Celery. This well-known garden plant is indigenous to European countries, where it is found growing wild in meadows and ditches. The fruit is used under the name fructus apii or celery-seed. The leaves and root contain mannit; the whole plant contains mucilage, fat, sugar, and essential oil. The latter has the characteristic odor of celery, a specific gravity of 0.870 to 0.895, and contains 90 per cent of hydrocarbons, among these dextro-limonene but no pinene. The odor of celery oil is due to sedanolid (C12H18O2), and the anhydride of sedanonic acid (C12H16O2) (Ciamician and Silber, 1897). Both substances are volatilized with difficulty, and the greater part of them may often be obtained from the residue of distillation (see Gildemeister and Hoffmann, Die Aetherischen Oele, 1899, p. 713). An infusion of the roots or herbs has been employed for rheumatic complaints, chronic bronchial affections and in intermittents. The seeds and plant are reputed nerve tonics, and are used for about the same purposes as parsley. The seeds enter into the formation of many medicines intended as nerve tonics. Locally, the infusion or the bruised plants have been employed as a stimulant, anodyne poultice.
Conioselinum canadense (Selinum canadense, B. and H.). Wet woods of northern United States. Used, under the name Hemlock parsley, in dysentery.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.