Published: 07/02/2020 - Updated: 07/09/2020
Author: Prof. Dr. Luis Ruiz-Garcia, PhD
Parsley (Petroselinum spp.) is a plant widely used for cooking and as a natural remedy. It has remarkable medicinal properties for the kidneys and the digestive system. It is good against cramps and to reduce gas. It is also used to induce menstruation (1).
Traditionally it has also been used as a folk remedy for halitosis or bad breath, but does it really remove bad breath? Is it advisable to use this plant against halitosis?
Organoleptic properties of parsley
Among the main characteristics of parsley is its fresh aroma and high chlorophyll content (which is why it gives the sauces and condiments their characteristic green colour).
It has a very characteristic smell that we usually associate with different recipes or dishes where it is a main ingredient. Also when it is grown in the garden, it gives off that very pleasant peculiar smell.
Its high content of chlorophyll makes it have that bright and attractive green, which we are used to seeing.
Chlorophyll and bad breath
Chlorophyll is a green pigment, which plants have, which intervenes during the process of photosynthesis. It is a compound of great importance, since without chlorophyll there could be no life on earth.
Chlorophyll fad in the United States
In the 1950s, several studies were conducted on the effect of chlorophyll on health and this made it fad in the United States. According to these studies, taking chlorophyll was a very good remedy for bad breath and body odor. The main researchers who worked on this were Dr. Benjamin Gruskin and Dr. F. Howard Westcott (2).
However, these studies are currently debunked. According to the National Council Against Health Fraud, chlorophyll cannot be absorbed into the human body and therefore cannot have beneficial effects on people with halitosis or body odor (3).
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On the other hand, there are also some scientific studies that state that parsley can eliminate bad smells due to sulphur compounds, such as those that cause bad breath, although these studies have not been carried out on people (4).
In this line, there are studies that have examined the effects of parsley in the mouth and have found that it can have a small initial effect of reducing bad odour (halitosis or bad breath), mainly because it masks it, but that it does not actually reduce the amount of sulphur compounds in the mouth (5).
According to this scientific study, green tea proves to be very effective in reducing bad breath over a longer period of time. In contrast, chewing gum, mint or parsley seed oil do not.
Parsley is a healthy food with multiple properties, but there is little scientific evidence that parsley can counteract bad breath.
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