Don’t be deceived, this plant may resemble parsley, but take extra precaution because only a fool can be tricked by the poisonous Fool’s Parsley herb. Despite the toxicity of this plant, it has actually been used for many years for its health benefits.
Even with the harmful concerns, many have used fool’s parsley for stomach and intestinal issues, to relieve diarrhea and to subside seizures.
Botanical Name and Family of Fool’s Parsley
Fool’s parsley is known botanically as Aethusa cynapium. Contrary to popular belief, fool’s parsley actually belongs to the Carrot or Apiaceae family and has been referred to as poison parsley, lesser hemlock and dog poison.
What Is Fool’s Parsley?
Fool’s parsley is an annual herb native to northwest Africa, West Asia and Europe. This plant received its moniker because of its close resemblance to a young parsley herb. As a word of caution, try not to confuse the two because the mistake can cause serious health problems.
Closely related to herbs such as Water dropwort and hemlock, fool’s parsley is primarily found in North America, from Minnesota to the eastern coast, and also found in Illinois, Kentucky and Canada.
Although mildly toxic, the hay of this plant is not poisonous because the toxic alkaloids it contains get destroyed by drying.
Active Ingredients Found in Fool’s Parsley
Fool’s parsley contains chemical constituents such as alkaloids like cynopine, flavonoids like rutoside and narcissine and an unsaturated fatty acid.
Health Benefits of Fool’s Parsley
Fool’s parsley has been used traditionally to treat problems of the stomach and intestine such as diarrhea, cholera and convulsions. In the homeopathic system of medicine, it is used as an intellectual stimulant. Researchers have found this herb to possess an unsaturated fatty acid, which has anxiolytic effects that help those with anxiety.
How to use fool’s parsley?
Aerial parts of this herb are used under medical supervision.
Side Effects of Fool’s Parsley
Despite the mentioned health benefits, fool’s parsley is quite poisonous and must not be used without medical supervision because it may cause life-threatening poisoning.
The symptoms of fool’s parsley poisoning include burning in the mouth, throat, stomach and windpipe. If consumed, seek medical help immediately.
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Shri R, Bhutani KK, Sharma A. A new anxiolytic fatty acid from Aethusa cynapium. Fitoterapia. 2010 Dec;81(8):1053-7. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2010.06.026. PubMed PMID: 20603195.
Shri R, Singh M, Sharma A. Bioactivity-Directed Separation of an Anxiolytic Fraction from Aethusa cynapium L. Phcog Res 2009;1: 336-41