Coriander (Coriamdrum sativum) has been used as both food and medicine, in many cultures, for millennium. In Ayurvedic medicine, coriander is used as a digestive aid. In Chinese medicine, the whole herb is used to treat a variety of conditions, including nausea, toothache, hernias, measles, dysentery and hemorrhoids. Coriander has even been added to some pharmaceutical medicines to counteract stomach irritation.
Common uses for coriander
- improved circulation
- treating rheumatism and arthritis
- toxin elimination
Coriander is used to treat digestive disorders as both a herbal infusion and an essential oil. And recent research has confirmed the wisdom of the ancients. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that coriander was effective for indigestion, flatulence, abdominal colic, lowering blood pressure and acting as a diuretic. The study authors concluded that coriander’s “diuretic activity adds value to its use in hypertension.”1 Historically, breastfeeding mothers have drank coriander tea to ease colic in babies.
Coriander helps constipation by adding fiber bulk to one’s stool. I’ve linked to the post 22 DIY Home Remedies for Constipation. Number two is an easy to follow recipe for using coriander to treat the condition.
Research has also validated coriander’s antiarthritic capabilities. In a study published in e-SPEN Journal, it was shown that coriander helped those suffering from arthritis, because of its nutrients. Here’s a quote: “Coriander leaves significantly influenced almost all the parameters in arthritis patients without any detrimental effects by virtue of a number of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals present in the leaves having therapeutic effects. The antioxidant and antiarthritic activities exhibited by the leaves are a result of the synergistic action of the bioactive compounds present in the leaves.”2
While the entire plant is credited with being great for flushing toxins from the body, the leafy cilantro portion is considered best. Although, studies have shown coriander (the seeds) to be an efficient toxin eliminator as well. This was demonstrated in the study ‘Detoxification Methods In Case of Cadmium Sulphate Intoxications’. The tests performed in the study used cadmium sulphate solution to inflict heavy metal poisoning on subjects. “After applying the detoxification procedures we can affirm that both procedures were good chosen because both helped to remove high quantities of accumulated metal. The highest efficiency was observed while using the D2 method, because this is removing the highest amount of toxin from the body.”3 The D2 method included coriander seeds.
The cadmium sulphate study also discovered that the pancreas was the accumulation organ for cadmium. It’s worth noting that coriander has other health improving effects on the pancreas as well.
Modern uses for coriander
- Hypolipidemic – lowers lipid/fat content in blood
- antidiabetic – normalizes glucose levels
- antiplatelet – decreases platelet aggregation, which inhibits blood clots
- immunomodulatory – capable of modifying or regulating one or more immune functions
- antibacterial – treats and prevents bacterial infections
- antioxidant – limits oxidative damage
According to the article, ‘Applications and utilization of coriander – A’, “Researchers have proved that processed coriander fruits exhibit hypolipidemic, antibacterial, antiplatelet, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic and antioxidant properties.”4
In one study, published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, it was shown that coriander seeds could significantly lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels, even on a high fat diet. Another study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, confirmed these findings and demonstrated that coriander also “normalized glycemia and decreased the elevated levels of insulin.”5 Keep in mind, these were both rat studies. The researchers in the second study used rats that were normal weight and obese, but they were all hypoglycemic and had high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When it’s proven that these results translate to humans, coriander may be very expensive in the future.
Coriander is among the few plants that have been studied and clinically proven to be an effective antiplatelet. This is important news for those prone to blood clots and thrombosis, especially if you’ve been forced to endure the discomfort of drugs like Coumadin (aka Warfarin). According to a study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, “Aqueous extracts of coriander leaf and curry leaf were tested on human platelets over a wide range of concentrations with agonists like adenosine diphosphate (ADP) (61 µM), epinephrine (76 µM), and collagen (0.005% in 0.1 N acetic acid). Both these leaf spice extracts inhibited human platelet aggregation.”7
Our immune systems are strongly influenced by the intake of nutrients. So, it should come as no surprise that coriander’s amazing nutrient content is the source of its ability to boost immunity. According to the article ‘Properties and Benefits of Coriander’, coriander leaves are rich in vitamins A and C. By the way, coriander seeds contain no vitamin A and very little vitamin C (only 2% of the RDA). Here’s a quote from the article: “Vitamin A protects the integrity of mucous membranes at the level of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, lungs and digestive tract, the parts of the body directly exposed to the outside world, ensuring they [are resistant] to viruses and bacteria attempts at infection. … Vitamin C increases white blood cell aggressiveness which means our body responds better and faster to basically any virus and bacterial threat.”6 And, of course, both of these nutrients are powerful antioxidants.
Even the mainstream medical community is willing to acknowledge that coriander is safe in food amounts and “possibly safe for most people”8 when consumed in suitable medicinal dosages. However, there are a few caveats regarding its use.
Coriander can cause sun sensitivity in some people, particularly light-complected people. But anyone using coriander in a sunny region (or season) should take care to wear sunblock and protective clothing, as they may be at an increased risk for sunburns, and the consequences thereof.
Coriander can also trigger allergic reactions in people allergic to “mugwort, aniseed, caraway, fennel, dill,”8 and other plants belonging to the Artemisia and Apiaceae families. And although coriander is soothing to the stomach and digestive system, it can irritate and inflame the skin of some if applied topically. However, there is no record of coriander interacting with any known drug.
Additional coriander warnings:
Because coriander lowers blood sugar levels and blood pressure, those who are diabetic and/or hypotensive (low blood pressure) should regularly monitor their blood glucose and blood pressure levels. It’s also wise to inform your physician that you are using coriander medicinally. This is especially important for those who are planning to have a surgery. There is concern in the medical community that coriander “might interfere with blood sugar control during surgery.”5 For this reason, it is recommended that patients “stop using coriander at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.”5
Medicinal history of coriander
To reiterate, coriander has been used in many cultures for millennium. Even the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, recommended the use of coriander as a medicine. Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about the medicinal uses of coriander. He recommend coriander seed, mixed with pomegranate juice and oil, to expel intestinal worms. Pliny also recommended it for the sting of a serpent, called amphisbaena (which is considered mythical today), as well as blisters and other types of wounds.
In China, it was once “[believed] that those who consume coriander seeds will be rewarded with immortality. The Israelites used coriander in their cooking. … The Book of Numbers [(in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible)] compares coriander with manna.”9 Manna, for those who’ve never heard of it, is the substance miraculously supplied as food to the Israelites in the wilderness (see book of Exodus for more information).
Some of those ancient claims are obviously exaggerations. However, when you consider the very long list of proven benefits, it’s easy to understand why the ancients would assume coriander was capable of much more fantastical healing feats. And who knows what future scientific studies may reveal.
1 Jabeen Q, Bashir S, et al. “Coriander fruit exhibits gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering and diuretic activities”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 25, 2009. Web. September 21, 2015
2 Rajeshwari CU, Siri S, Andallu B. “Antioxidant and antiarthritic potential of coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) leaves”. e-SPEN Journal, December 2012. Web. September 21, 2015
3 Bordean Despina-Maria, M. Goian, I. Gergen, et al. “Detoxification Methods In Case of Cadmium Sulphate
Intoxications”. Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca. Veterinary Medicine, n.d.. Web. September 21, 2015
4 Verma Chaynika. “Applications and utilization of coriander – A”. International Journal of Research in Engineering and Applied Sciences, June 5, 2014. Web. September 19, 2015
5 Aissaoui A, Zizi S, et al. “Hypoglycemia and hypolipidemic effects of coriandrum sativum L. in Meriones shawi rats”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, September 1, 2011. Web. September 20, 2015
6 Lixandru, Marius. “Properties and Benefits of Coriander”. NatureWord, March 2, 2015. Web. September 23, 2015
7 Suneetha WJ, Krishnakantha TP. “Antiplatelet activity of Coriander and Curry Leaf Spices”. Pharmaceutical Biology, Vol 43, Issue 3, 2005. Web. September 23, 2015
8 “Coriander: Uses, Side-effects, Interactions and Warnings”. WebMD, n.d.. Web. September 20, 2015
9 “Coriander History: From Ancient Greece to South America”. Our Herb Garden, n.d.. Web. September 19, 2015
Chithra V, Leelamma S. “Hypolipidemic effect of coriander seeds (Coriamdrum sativum): mechanism of action”. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 1997. Web. September 20, 2015
Pliny the Elder. “Delphi Complete Works of Pliny the Elder (illustrated)”. Delphi Classics / Delphi Publishing Ltd, 2015. Print.