Chinese Parsley, Cilantro, Dhania, Mexican Parsley
Southern Europe, Africa, Asia
Classed as both a spice and a herb, Coriander has an enduring history as a staple in Asian cuisine where both the seeds (spice) and leaves (herb) are used to impart their delicious flavour to any number of dishes.
It has also been used throughout history as a healing herb, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the leaves were used to stimulate the appetite, promote digestion and to strengthen the spleen and stomach. The seeds were similarly used to soothe the stomach, relieve nausea, for intestinal cramping and constipation.
This flavourful herb not only tastes great, it has many important benefits to the digestive system, with gut health now known to be the cornerstone of the overall health of the body and its ability to assimilate nutrients. Coriander is known as a cooling herb in the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda and research now shows that this plant is around 85 percent volatile oils including linalool and geranyl acetate which help to soothe and calm the digestive system.
Consuming Coriander supports the production of digestive enzymes and promotes a friendly environment for beneficial gut bacteria to flourish. Furthermore, studies have shown that indigestion is reduced when Coriander is regularly added to the diet.
Coriander essential oil can also be used to aid digestion. By diluting in a carrier oil and massaging into the abdomen, this warming oil can work its magic to ease digestive discomfort and flatulence. Even children can benefit from this gentle herb, by adding a small amount of Coriander to their diet or massaging a well diluted oil mixture into the abdomen can reduce and relieve colic attacks.
The topical use of diluted Coriander seed essential oil can effectively treat superficial skin infections and oozing dermatitis linked to Streptococcus pyogenes (a pathogen that can cause a wide array of soft tissue infections). This powerful essential oil can also inhibit the growth of fungus, helping to prevent and cure conditions such as athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections.
A 2011 study found that specific chemical compounds found in Coriander protect human keratinocytes, (skin cells that produce keratin), from oxidative stress and promote the repairing of damaged skin cells. Coriander is bursting with free radical destroying antioxidants and skin friendly minerals, making it a great addition to homemade natural skin creams and massage oils to promote healthy glowing skin.
Coriander supports the health of this vital organ by exerting a positive effect on many of the conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease and ultimately, heart failure. Firstly it helps to optimise blood pressure, with various constituents interacting with calcium ions and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps relax tension in blood vessels.
Furthermore, a recent study conducted by researchers at the “Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research” in India found that consuming Coriander can protect the heart from damage like heart failure. They found that the protective effects of this herb may be attributed to its ability to improve left ventricular functions and baroreflex sensitivity (the body’s ability to control blood pressure), reduce lipid peroxidation (bad cholesterol), and regulate the expression of endothelin receptors. Unregulated endothelin receptors can lead to the development of inflammation in the vascular wall which can ultimately lead to many detrimental heart conditions.
Heavy Metal Detox
Unfortunately in our increasingly polluted world, the human body now has to deal with toxins that were virtually unknown until very recently in our evolutionary history. These include “heavy metals” such as; lead, aluminium and mercury, which if left unchecked can create havoc in the body.
Coriander has been found to change the electric charge of intracellular deposits of heavy metals to a neutral state. This relaxes the tight bond of the metals to bodily tissue, allowing them to be safely flushed from the body in a process known as “chelation”. Studies have shown that levels of mercury, lead, and aluminium in the urine increase significantly after consuming large amounts of Coriander. This process can be further enhanced by using Chlorella – a micro algae that has the ability to absorb heavy metals and carry them safely from the body.
Coriander leaves and seeds can be used in many delicious and exotic recipes.
Coriander Essential Oil
Essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil before use on the skin. Coriander essential oil can be used in the bath or vaporised in an oil burner. It can be added to a massage oil or cream for topical use.
Coriander's uses stretch way back in the annals of history. It was actually introduced into Britain by Roman invaders who used it as a flavouring and a medicinal herb. Early Britons used Coriander mixed with cumin and vinegar to preserve meat.
The "father of medicine" Hippocrates recommended Coriander as medicine and it was mentioned in the texts of all the great Greek and Roman scholars, with their enthusiastic promotion of this herb leading to its widespread dispersal around the globe.
Thought to have aphrodisiac qualities, Coriander was a common ingredient in love potions of medival times. It was said to "stimulate animal passions" when mixed with wine (although how much of this was down to the wine is unknown!).
The British Pharmacopoeia of medicines discusses how Coriander water was used to ease flatulence and "windy colic". It was also used in ointments for the relief of rheumatism and arthritis.
Coriander contains fibre, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C.
Phytonutrients include; Linalool (72.7%), λ-terpinene (8.8%), α-pinene (5.5%), camphor (3.7%), limonene (2.3%), geranyl acetate (1.9%) and p-cymene (1.5%).
Diabetics should consult with their health care practitioner before consuming large amounts of Coriander.
People with allergies to fennel, mugwort or dill may be sensitive to this herb.