What Is the Connection between Parsley and Menstruation?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Parsley and menstruation connect through compounds in the plant’s oils, which are thought to help start a delayed period. Much of the evidence is anecdotal and doses are not yet standardized, but people have taken the herb for centuries for this and additional medicinal purposes. Women who want to try this remedy can use it in several ways, depending on their preferences, but they should be aware of the potential side effects, such as kidney problems and headaches.

Parsley leaves may be steeped to make tea for women wishing to start a delayed period.
Parsley leaves may be steeped to make tea for women wishing to start a delayed period.

About the Plant

Parsley is a common herb people have grown for both medicinal and culinary uses for more than 2,000 years. A member of the carrot family, it is also used as a popular garnish. Botanists recognize more than 30 distinct types, but individuals are most familiar with Petroselinum crispum, which has curly leaves, and Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum or “Italian” parsley, which has flat leaves. It is known for its characteristic spicy-bitter flavor.

Women who consume parsley to start menstruation may need to increase their intake of water.
Women who consume parsley to start menstruation may need to increase their intake of water.

Use for Menstruation

Herbalists frequently recommend parsley as an emmenagogue, which is a substance that can induce menstruation. They assert that it can encourage the shedding of the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus, and that it allows the cervix to relax or dilate, allowing menstrual discharge to pass out of the body through the vaginal canal. It might be effective for general period regulation, or for treating the delay caused by stress, fibroids or hormonal disorders.

It may take a day or two for menstruation to begin following the consumption of parsley.
It may take a day or two for menstruation to begin following the consumption of parsley.

How It Works

Medical professionals think that parsley might encourage menstruation because the oils in the plant contain two compounds, apiol and myristicin. These substances are both uterine stimulants that can induce mild contractions and dilate the cervix. The amount contained in each parsley plant and species varies, however, and concentrations are different among the roots, leaves and fruit, which contain 0.1%, 0.3% and 2 - 7%, respectively.

A woman with menstrual cramps.
A woman with menstrual cramps.

How to Use It

Women who want to use parsley to jump-start their periods can ingest the plant as food with their regular diet, or they may steep the leaves to make tea. Less commonly, people go to an herbalist, health food store or general pharmacy and get caplets or tablets to take. Some people like this option because it allows them to be more precise about dosing without the need to measure anything. Even less often, women insert it into the vagina as a suppository, but many herbalists lean away from this practice because of the possibility of encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria. In general, experts do not recommend using the essential oil straight, because there is some concern about possible toxicity.


Currently, the amount of evidence available regarding safe and effective dosing with parsley and menstruation is small, so there is not an accepted recommendation for how much to take. It has been administered at 6 grams a day, but even this amount does not have the research behind it to support widespread use. Although medical professionals acknowledge that the plant can work as an emmenagogue at higher doses, the amount someone needs to take to induce her cycle will be different from woman to woman based on age, weight and other factors, and a standardized dose generally is the starting point for these types of adjustments.

Time Frame

There are reports of women who have started their periods just hours after consuming a medicinal dose. Depending on the amount taken and the cause for the delay in menstruation, however, it can take additional time, usually a day or two, for the herb to work. Sometimes, this makes it difficult to tell whether the plant truly was effective or if the body simply finally resolved its cycle problems on its own.

Warnings and Considerations

Although the effects of this herb on the reproductive system are considered mild, the fact that apiol and myristicin can stimulate contractions of the uterus means that pregnant women should avoid medicinal doses. It might cause a miscarriage — in fact, apiol once was used in birth control, and people have used the herb as an abortifacient to induce an abortion. It also has been used to intensify contractions as a way to help labor.

Women who use parsley to start menstruation might need to increase their intake of water, because the compounds in the plant have a diuretic effect. The chemicals can worsen kidney problems, so those who have renal conditions should not take it. Even though it has been used to stimulate appetite and treat digestive issues like flatulence and constipation, in some people, stomach upset occurs. Other reported side effects include fluid retention — which is already a problem for many women during their periods — headache, increased blood pressure, giddiness, hearing problems, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Most people are able to get this plant from a grocery store or grow it from clearly labeled seed, but in many parts of the world, it grows wild and can be harvested successfully. Individuals who want to do this should be aware that it bears a strong resemblance to Aethusa cynapium, also called small hemlock, and Conium maculatum, sometimes known as poison hemlock. The leaves of the first plant are shiny underneath, contrasting the edible version’s dull appearance, and poison hemlock usually is bigger.

Parsley may be able to start a delayed period.
Parsley may be able to start a delayed period.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


I'm a day late so I made some parsley tea with fresh parsley. I gagged down a cup, and 30 minutes later had to run to the washroom to throw up. Good luck.


You should never go more than 90 days without a cycle. If it has been that long, call your doctor. The longer you go without a cycle the higher your chances are for endometrial cancer. The cells have too long of a period to become abnormal when they are not shed. I am going to try the parsley tea as it's been about two months and hope I can start things naturally.


Does it work if you don't have your period yet?


I can't understand why a woman would want to start her period, when luckily she stopped having them. A healthy person has no bleeding in her body, not even menstruation. --Kamilla


I started my periods at a very young age. I was only 12 at that time. I use to get flowing periods until the age of 15. Then somehow, it stopped coming for about a year. The doctor said it was normal. Then I went on the pill for a month, which regulated my cycle for another year, but the same problem occurred again. So I waited a few months and started the pill for a complete full year. While I was on it I use to get them, but for the last month (maybe I skipped my pills twice) I didn't get them again.

Now I'm age of 20, and it's been four months since I had my last menstruation. Would trying the parsley tea would be helpful in my case?

I'm planning to get married soon and I don't want to take pills again. I'm really tired of this. I'm pretty scared of the side effects honestly, so I'd rather use natural herbs to induce my periods. So would it be beneficial for me in any way? Any suggestions? I would really appreciate them from the bottom from my heart.


I have heard that you should not drink parsley tea if you think you might be pregnant, because it could cause you to have a miscarriage. I really hope that all these women who are trying the tea are checking to be sure that they aren't carrying a baby first!

My mother used to use it a lot, because her periods were very unpredictable. However, she always took a home pregnancy test first.

She never used the dried herbs, because she said that the fresh kind was more potent. She chopped up ¼ cup of the parsley and steeped it in boiling water for five minutes.


@wavy58 – My sister is on the pill, but she sometimes misses a period now and then. I don't know why it happens, because she takes a pregnancy test every time, and it turns up negative.

She heard about parsley's menstrual effects after she had been having this problem for about a year. She tried drinking several cups of tea in one day, which should have been the second day of her period, and it arrived the next day.

I think that the more you drink, the sooner it will arrive. I know that many people say it takes three days, but that is probably only if you drink one cup.


I wonder if this was discovered by accident. Is drinking parsley tea a common thing in some cultures? Did women just notice over time that it made them start menstruating?

I am on the pill, so my period always comes on schedule. I do wonder if every woman who takes the pill has her period arrive on time. If not, would drinking parsley tea work for her, since she is already having her hormones regulated?


I wish I had known about this little trick years ago. I stopped menstruating for three months, and I wound up having to go to my doctor to get a pill that would make it start again. It sure would have been nice to have been able to get the same effect just by drinking parsley tea!

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