Cilantro is a tasty edible herb that has a number of health benefits. Cilantro leaves can help to lower inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, improve digestive health, and are good for your skin. The medicinal properties of cilantro also have powerful detoxification properties that can help to get rid of heavy metals.
In many countries, cilantro is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley. The leaves of cilantro are used to flavor many Asian and Mexican dishes. Coriander seeds are also dried and used for culinary or therapeutic purposes. Coriander oil can also be extracted from the seeds and is known to have powerful antibacterial properties.
In this article, you will learn about the many health benefits of cilantro, coriander seeds, and coriander oil. You will find out about scientific research into the potential use of cilantro in many home remedies.
What is Cilantro or Coriander?
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is an herbaceous plant with a long history in traditional medicine. Coriander originally comes from the Mediterranean region but is grown in many countries around the world.
The journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies says that cilantro is the common name in the U.S. for the leaves of the plant. Coriander is generally used to refer to the whole plant, the stalks, or seeds. However, in many countries, coriander is also the name for the leaf. (1)
According to a review on its therapeutic properties, coriander herb has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities. (2)
Cilantro Nutrition Facts
As well as having a number of medicinal properties, cilantro leaves and stems also have good nutritional value.
Cilantro (coriander) contains vitamins C, A, E, and K. There are also trace amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. Cilantro also contains a negligible number of calories and carbs. (3)
Coriander leaf or cilantro also contains a number of antioxidants that have many health benefits. Research has shown that coriander contains cineole, linoleic acid, and tannins. Many of these beneficial coriander compounds are anti-inflammatory and have a sedative effect, protect the heart, and kill off many infectious pathogens. (4)
Health Benefits of Cilantro (Coriander)
Let’s look in more detail at the potential health benefits of coriander to see how you can use all parts of this herb to boost your health.
Cilantro May Help Detox from Heavy Metals
Coriander extracts can help to remove heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury from your body.
Many studies point to the fact that antioxidants in coriander may help rid the liver from a buildup of toxins. A 2013 review on the benefits of coriander reported that it has a lead-detoxifying potential. (5)
The way that cilantro extracts may help remove heavy metals from the body is through a process called chelation. This involves using certain compounds that bind to heavy metals and minerals in order to remove them from the body. (6)
Is there scientific evidence that cilantro is effective for heavy metal detoxifying? Scientific research on the detoxifying effects of cilantro extracts on animals and humans has shown promising results.
For example, a 2017 trial found that extracts from coriander helped protect liver health in rats. Administering coriander lowered the lead concentration in the rats’ livers. (7)
One study on the chelation effect of coriander found that it was helpful in preventing a lead buildup in mice who consumed lead-contaminated water. (8)
A 2017 study found that extracts from coriander helped to treat iron overdose and protect the liver from damage. In fact, extracts from coriander were as effective as deferoxamine which is a chelating medication to flush excess iron from the body. (9)
Some studies have shown that the antioxidant effect of coriander leaf extract is good for liver health in general. Coriander herb extracts protect against DNA damage, kill off free radicals, and have metal chelating power. (10)
Regarding the protective effect on the liver, researchers have found that cilantro leaf extract helps prevent damage by toxins to the liver. Scientists identified cilantro compounds that can help treat various liver diseases. (11)
One study found that 100 mg of cilantro supplements taken 4 times a day can help to remove mercury. Scientists found that cilantro powder has a chelating effect when used in combination with other therapies to remove harmful heavy metals. (12)
However, research into the chelating effect of coriander on humans has shown mixed results. For example, one study found that cilantro extract was just as effective as a placebo in lowering levels of lead in children. (13)
Cilantro Leaves Help Lower Inflammation
One of the health benefits of coriander is that it has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Chronic inflammation is linked to serious diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Many doctors say that lowering inflammation can help protect against the development of these chronic diseases. (14)
Research has discovered that coriander leaf and stem extracts are good for relieving inflammation. Coriander compounds help to effectively inhibit inflammatory enzymes. (15)
One study into the anti-inflammatory effects of cilantro found that it may help to manage rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers found that cilantro compounds can alleviate joint swelling and pain. The study concluded that coriander has potential health benefits as a pain-relief treatment for arthritic conditions. (16)
There is also evidence to suggest that coriander oil has potential benefits to treat inflammation. One study found that taking coriander oil helped increase the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids. (17)
Also, coriander oil was mentioned among some of the best cold-pressed oils that have anti-inflammatory activities. (18)
Learn more about some of the best anti-inflammatory foods that you should add to your diet to help stay healthy.
Coriander is Good for Your Skin
Cilantro leaves and oil are also beneficial to help soothe inflamed skin and help manage a number of skin diseases.
The results of research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that coriander leaf extracts can help to treat contact dermatitis. Applying a coriander extract treatment to the skin can help to alleviate itching, redness, and dry skin. (19)
Another benefit of cilantro oil for your skin is that it helps prevent skin infections. Scientists have found that coriander oil is an effective antibacterial agent against certain Streptococcus and Staphylococcus strains. Applying cilantro oil to the skin can act as a topical antiseptic and treat many types of skin infections. (20)
Adding coriander oil to a skin lotion can also help soothe skin irritation, redness, and pain after a burn. (21)
Find out other natural oils that can help to keep your skin looking youthful and feeling healthy.
Coriander Extracts Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
Fresh cilantro leaves and cilantro extracts have many potential benefits to improve your cardiovascular health.
According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, coriander leaf extract has antioxidants that benefit the heart. (22)
Other studies have shown that coriander seed extract and leaf extract help prevent blood clots from forming. Researchers have found that coriander compounds stop blood cells clumping together and can help prevent blocked arteries. (23)
Find out about the best foods to include on a cardiac diet and why you should eat more coriander for its heart benefits.
Coriander Seeds Help Lower Cholesterol
One of the benefits of cilantro for your cardiovascular health is to help manage high cholesterol issues.
To help lower cholesterol, it seems that coriander seeds are the best part of the plant. One study found that rats who were fed a diet including coriander seed oil experienced a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels. (22)
Some studies suggest that by just eating more coriander seeds you could help lower cholesterol. For example, incorporating coriander seeds in the diet can have an anti-cholesterolemic effect. (23)
If you are looking for more ways to lower cholesterol naturally, you should learn about the best dietary and lifestyle choices to make.
Cilantro Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
One of the reasons why taking coriander is good for your heart is that it helps manage hypertension.
Research on animal subjects with high blood pressure found that dried coriander seed oil helps lower high blood pressure. Coriander seeds helped to relax veins and arteries which has a beneficial effect on the vascular system. (24)
Taking coriander oil internally also has a diuretic effect which is another way to manage high blood pressure naturally. (24)
One 2018 study found that taking 2 grams of garlic and coriander seed powder helps to significantly lower blood pressure. Scientists also found that the coriander seed supplement improved blood fat markers. (25)
Find out how to lower your blood pressure almost instantly and what you should do to treat hypertension.
Cilantro Helps Treat Digestive Issues
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of coriander extracts help to promote good digestive health. A tea made from coriander seed is one of the best teas for digestion to relieve gas, bloating and upset stomach.
Studies into medicinal plants such as coriander found that they have a number of benefits in managing digestive problems. For example, coriander is used to treat excess gas and heartburn. Also, the antioxidant activity can help reduce the effect of Helicobacter pylori infections in the gut. (26)
Treating H. pylori infections is one way to prevent the development of gastric ulcers and cancer. (26)
Cilantro Leaves Can Help treat Diarrhea
Because coriander is antimicrobial and is so good for your digestion, you can use coriander for diarrhea.
Research into the health benefits of cilantro has discovered that it is effective against a number of pathogens that can cause diarrhea. Coriander helps to kill off E. coli and Salmonella infections. Taking coriander extracts could help you recover quicker from infectious diarrhea. (28)
Cilantro contains the compound linalool which has a carminative effect. Because of this, cilantro has also been prescribed traditionally to treat vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion. (29)
Apart from eating raw cilantro for diarrhea, you can learn about other natural ways to calm your bowels and treat symptoms of diarrhea.
Cilantro Can Help Treat Fungal Infections
Coriander is a healthy herb that also has antimicrobial activities against yeast and fungal infections.
According to research published in the journal PLoS One, coriander essential oil can kill off candida infections. Extracts from coriander leaf have antifungal properties that are useful in treating oral candidiasis. (30)
A few drops of coriander essential oil in a glass of water can create an antimicrobial mouthwash to help promote good oral health.
Coriander Leaves May Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms
There are many benefits to taking cilantro extracts if you are diabetic and need to control insulin and glucose levels.
Scientific studies into the anti-diabetic effect of coriander have found that they help increase insulin secretion. This has a beneficial effect on glucose level as it prevents it from spiking after a meal. (31)
One study involving diabetic rats showed that cilantro seed powder helped to significantly lower blood glucose levels. The research also revealed that taking coriander supplements had a protective effect on the liver of diabetic subjects. (32)
Other studies have confirmed that coriander compounds such as phenolics, flavonoids, and tannins help to manage diabetes symptoms. (33)
As well as taking coriander leaves and seeds for diabetes, you can learn about more delicious foods that help to control type 2 diabetes. It is especially important to incorporate these anti-diabetes foods if you notice the first signs of diabetes.
Cilantro Helps Promote Healthy Brain Function
Coriander supplements can help to protect your cognitive abilities and help prevent a decline in brain function.
Many studies have pointed to the positive effect of cilantro on the brain. For example, one study found that inhaling coriander essential oil had positive effects on spatial memory formation. The study also found that taking coriander leaf extracts helped increase enzyme levels in the brain. This could have a protective effect for people who have suffered a stroke. (4)
Some studies have suggested that cilantro extract is helpful to protect against the neurological effects of diabetes. (4)
There is another reason why taking cilantro herb is good for your brain. Research has shown that taking cilantro extracts help to reduce the effects of stress on the brain. This anti-stress effect of cilantro helps to prevent stress-related memory loss. (34)
You can find out about some of the best foods that are known to boost your memory and cognitive function.
Because avocado is an excellent brain food, adding a handful of freshly chopped cilantro to mashed avocado can create brain-strengthening guacamole.
Coriander Leaves Have an Anti-Anxiety Effect
Cilantro extracts can also help treat anxiety and depression.
Taking coriander supplements may be good if you suffer from depression and anxiety. One study involving mice found that coriander extracts were as effective as diazepam in relieving feelings of anxiety. (35)
Some studies suggest that an alcohol extract of coriander seeds has a better anti-depressive effect than cilantro water. (4)
One of the many ways that cilantro can benefit your mental health is that it can improve your sleep quality. Poor sleep, stress, and anxiety are often connected. Some studies have shown that taking coriander seed extracts can help you sleep better. (36)
Find out about more effective home remedies for dealing with anxiety and helping to prevent depression.
If you have trouble sleeping, then you can try some of these essential oils to help you sleep better.
Coriander leaves (cilantro) or chopped coriander stems can be a delicious addition to many Asian, Indian, or Mexican dishes. Most people tolerate cilantro well when used as an herb or spice in cooking.
There are some reports of allergic reactions to taking cilantro in medicinal amounts. For example, doctors from WebMD report that cilantro oil can cause itching, redness, and other signs of an allergic reaction when applied topically. (37)
Because cilantro helps to prevent red blood cells clumping together, cilantro may increase your risk of bleeding if you have a bleeding disorder. You should also stop taking cilantro/coriander supplements in the 2 weeks before and after any planned surgery.
How to Take Coriander
Use the herb and the seeds of cilantro in curries, chutneys, sauces, salads and soups.
Coriander is also available as an herbal supplement in the form of capsules, as a tincture and as herbal tea. These are available in health stores or online in Amazon here.
Or you can make a coriander tea at home: steep a teaspoon of ground coriander seeds in a covered cup with boiling water for 5-10 minutes and drink 2-3 times a day.