Apiaceae (family), Pastinaca sativa L., sweet parsnip, wild parsnip.
Note: This monograph does not include information on cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) or wild parsnip (Angelica archanglica).
Like their close relative the carrot, parsnip roots are used for food. The Romans thought that the parsnip was an aphrodisiac. There is very little research available on medicinal uses for parsnip. One laboratory study indicates that polyacetylenes in parsnip may be cytotoxic (damaging to cells). However, currently, there is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of parsnip for any indication.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Aphrodisiac, cancer.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for parsnip in adults.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for parsnip in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). Parsnip has caused skin lesions and rash. Individuals allergic to birch pollen may have cross-sensitivity to parsnip.
Side Effects and Warnings
There are very few reports of parsnip and its adverse effects. Of the available literature, there are a few reports of phytodermatitis and phytophototoxicity in patients handling or ingesting parsnip. Parsnip has caused skin lesions and rash. Use cautiously in patients who are photosensitive or taking agents that may increase the chance of photosensitivity.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Parsnip, as a medicinal agent, is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific research.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Parsnip contains polyacetylenes, which have shown cytotoxic activity. Caution is advised in patients taking anticancer agents, as the combination may have additive effects.
Parsnip may cause photosensitivity. Caution is advised in patients taking other agents that cause light sensitivity, as the combination may increase this side effect.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Parsnip contains polyacetylenes, which have shown cytotoxic activity. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements with anticancer effects, as the combination may have additive effects.
Parsnip may cause photosensitivity. Caution is advised in patients taking other agents that cause light sensitivity, such as St. John's wort, as the combination may increase this side effect.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
- Aberer W. Occupational dermatitis from organically grown parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.). Contact Dermatitis 1992;26(1):62.
- Bang Pedersen N, Pla Arles UB. Phototoxic reaction to parsnip and UV-A sunbed. Contact Dermatitis 1998;39(2):97.
- Egan CL, Sterling G. Phytophotodermatitis: a visit to Margaritaville. Cutis 1993;51(1):41-42.
- Eriksson NE. Clustering of foodstuffs in food hypersensitivity. An inquiry study in pollen allergic patients. Allergol.Immunopathol.(Madr.) 1984;12(1):28-32.
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- Hannuksela M, Lahti A. Immediate reactions to fruits and vegetables. Contact Dermatitis 1977;3(2):79-84.
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- Poljacki M, Paravina M, Jovanovic M, et al. [Contact allergic dermatitis caused by plants]. Med Pregl. 1993;46(9-10):371-375.
- Poniecka H. [Plants as the cause of contact allergy diagnosed at the Dermatological Clinic, Medical Academy, in Bialystok]. Przegl.Dermatol 1990;77(4):262-265.
- Quickenden TI, Creamer JI. A study of common interferences with the forensic luminol test for blood. Luminescence. 2001;16(4):295-298.
- Vinokurov GI. [On dermatitis caused by the sweet parsnip plant]. Voen.Med.Zh. 1965;7:67-69.
- Zidorn C, Johrer K, Ganzera M, et al. Polyacetylenes from the Apiaceae vegetables carrot, celery, fennel, parsley, and parsnip and their cytotoxic activities. J Agric.Food Chem 4-6-2005;53(7):2518-2523.
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)