Parsley and gout: Parsley was first used as a medicinal herb before it was ever used for food. It can help to boost your immune system, strengthen your bones, repair damage to your nerves, improve your eyesight, and encourage rapid blood clotting. But is it good for gout?
Parsley And Gout
Gout is a painful type of arthritis (it’s sometimes called ‘gouty arthritis’), the root cause of which is too-high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, a medical condition called ‘hyperuricemia.’ If not treated properly this can lead to the formation of tiny uric acid crystals in joints and surrounding tissue, giving rise to acute gout attacks. The joint at the base of the big toe is the most common place for this to occur, although any joint can be affected.
Uric acid is a waste product of purine metabolism. Purines are chemical compounds found in our body’s cells and the cells of animals and plants. As cells breakdown, purines also breakdown, producing uric acid in the process. It’s reckoned that around 30% of the uric acid produced in our body comes from the food we consume, so the purine content of food cannot be ignored. For example, gout patients are usually advised to avoid purine-rich foods like organ meats, game, and some fish and shellfish.
Two types of drug-based medicines are usually prescribed for the treatment of gout: anti-inflammatories to help reduce the pain and inflammation of an actual gout attack and medication to reduce and control uric acid levels in the blood.
Medicines for controlling uric acid, such as allopurinol and febuxostat, can be costly and usually have to be taken for the long term, sometimes even for life, because they only work while being taken. Once stopped, uric acid levels can rise thereby increasing the risk of gout attacks once again.
So gout sufferers are increasingly seeking more natural ways to treat their condition. For example, taking into account purines in food, just making a few dietary changes can help reduce the risk of recurrent gout attacks.
But, today, we’re going to take a look at medicinal plants, in particular parsley. The more you know about parsley and gout, the better able you’ll be to decide whether or not to take this popular herb to help combat your condition…
Parsley has been eaten for more than 20 centuries and is native to the Mediterranean region. In fact, it was first used as a medicinal herb before it was used for food. It’s part of the carrot family and is most commonly found as one of two varieties; the more common curly parsley and the flat-leafed parsley.
Here’s Wikipedia’s more detailed description:
“Parsley or garden parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region (southern Italy, Algeria, and Tunisia), naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as a herb, a spice, and a vegetable.
Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm (3.9–9.8 in) long with numerous 1–3 cm (0.4–1.2 in) leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter.
Parsley is widely used in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. In central and eastern Europe and in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Root parsley is very common in central and eastern European cuisines, where it is used as a snack or a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles.”
Health Benefits of Parsley
While you may have mostly eaten parsley as a food garnish at home and in restaurants, it also offers a wide range of health benefits, including for those who are trying to cope with gout. The herb is relatively low in purine and is a fat-free food: there are only three calories in every two tablespoons.
In addition, the herb is quite low in sodium, so it’s a good choice for anyone who’s dealing with heart disease or hypertension. Parsley also contains many vital nutrients, including vitamins A, B12, C, and K, and minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, and folic acid.
Parsley is also full of powerful antioxidants (flavonoids) that can scavenge disease-causing free radicals.
Eating parsley can therefore be beneficial for your health in a number of ways. It can help to boost your immune system, strengthen your bones, repair damage to your nerves, improve your eyesight, and encourage rapid blood clotting. You might even find that it makes your breath smell better!
Benefits of Parsley for Gout
For those who are dealing with gout, parsley can have more specific benefits…
The high level of chlorophyll (giving plants their green color) in parsley, as well as the presence of minerals such as zinc, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, helps to ensure that your blood and body tissue pH does not get too far out of balance, i.e. too acidic.
Note: Your body needs to be slightly alkaline for general health. And this is even more important for gout sufferers because it’s more difficult for uric acid to crystallize in an alkaline environment.
Parsley is also a natural diuretic that can help your body to excrete any excess uric acid more effectively. This helps to promote kidney health and keeps your uric acid levels in check.
Eating parsley also reduces the likelihood of developing kidney stones and makes it easier to pass any that have started to grow. The diuretic effect of parsley helps to keep things flowing through your urinary tract so that kidney stones are excreted before they become too large.
Substances called apigenin and luteolin, which are found in parsley, have been shown to inhibit xanthine oxidase, which is an enzyme that helps to produce uric acid from purines. These also work as anti-inflammatories.
As you can see, the beneficial connection between parsley and gout potentially is a strong one. Add this herb to your diet to enjoy all the benefits. You can also get it as dried flakes, tea bags, and dietary supplements.
But don’t go overboard…
When consumed in large amounts parsley may cause anemia, liver, kidney and other health problems, such as high blood pressure and low blood sugar.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, have kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or about to undergo surgery, consult with your doctor before taking this.
It may also interact with certain medicines, such as those for diabetes, slowing blood clotting, diuretics, etc. Again, talk to your doctor beforehand.
And, because parsley is a diuretic, you’ll be excreting more fluid than normal, so that you could become dehydrated. You’ll need to drink lots of water to prevent this happening since dehydration actually helps uric acid crystal formation.
Rarely, some people can suffer allergic reactions to parsley, for example, stomach pain, swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; itching, eczema, hives, tingling mouth, nasal or eye itchiness, dizziness, feeling faint, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing. In severe cases, anaphylaxis.
If any of these or other unusual symptoms occur, stop consuming parsley and seek emergency medical help right away.