If you have ever experienced swelling in your legs (or your hands or feet for that matter) you know how painful it can become. There are many reasons this swelling, known as edema, or the retention of fluids in the body, can occur:
- A sedentary lifestyle—sitting or staying in one position for too long
- Eating too much processed foods and foods high in salt
- Poor circulation
- Side effects of some medications
Often, a bit of swelling in your legs can be normal after standing or sitting for the day or during pregnancy for example, but chronic leg and ankle swelling—peripheral edema—can also signal a more serious underlying issue such as kidney disease, heart failure or liver disease, so it is always best to consult a physician if this swelling persists.
For cases of occasional swelling however, there are herbal remedies that can be helpful for reducing the swelling and helping your body eliminate any excess fluids. One such herb is parsley.
It Used To Be Recommended by Hippocrates
The word parsley is actually derived from two Greek words: “petrose,” meaning rock, as it often pops through rocky terrain and stone walls; and “selenium,” the ancient name for celery. When put together, it literally means “rock celery.”
There are essentially two types of parsley—curly parsley and Italian parsley (flat leaves) which tends to be the hardier of the two.
While parsley is used as a garnish in almost every restaurant and home in North America, more often than not, we tend to pick it off the dish and leave it to the side.
But studies show that eating that parsley garnish can help protect you from a variety of diseases and ailments including, digestive disorders, urinary tract problems, menstrual pain, asthma, allergies, as well as help to lower blood pressure, improve your bone health, your breath and even help in cases of bronchitis.
In ancient times, Hippocrates recommended parsley as a general tonic for kidney stones and rheumatism as well as an antidote for poison. And according to “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook,” parsley is a wonderful diuretic that helps the kidneys remove excess fluids from the body (edema).
Parsley Is a Natural Diuretic
A study published in 2002 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, showed that “parsley acts as a diuretic by inhibiting the sodium and potassium ion pumps, influencing the process of osmosis and increasing the flow of urine.”
Parsley is also rich in potassium and because most chemically produced diuretics actually lower potassium levels in the body, parsley also assures you do not experience this common side effect of these pharmaceutical drugs.
Another 2009 Brazilian study titled, “Diuretic and hypotensive activity of aqueous extract of parsley seeds” showed similar results for parsley and suggests that parsley can not only increase urinary flow, but also decrease blood pressure as well.
Parsley Tea Recipe for Edema
According to Dr. John R. Christopher, renowned author and America’s foremost herbalist, you should drink at least two quarts (64 oz.) of strong parsley tea per day to achieve maximum results.
You can increase the amount of parsley tea to a cup every hour if you feel the need. When making your tea, however, he also suggests that you use the “fresh light-green leaves,” along with the roots and seeds, if available.
- Chop the leaves and roots into small pieces (you can also pre-chop the parsley and store them in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to a week.)
- Place approximately ¼ cup of parsley into an infusion basket.
- Pour over a cup of boiled water or submerge into a tea pot.
- Let the mixture steep for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the basket or strain the tea.
- Add honey, lemon or ginger for flavor if desired.
- Always drink parsley tea warm for the best effects.
As well as drinking tea, don’t forget to use other techniques to reduce swelling such as raising your legs by putting your legs on pillows to raise them above your heart when lying down.
Also exercise your legs as this helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart.