Coriander comes from the round, tan-colored seeds of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum), a member of the parsley family. The word coriander describes the entire plant: leaves, stems, and seeds. However, when speaking of this spice, most people are referring to the spice produced from the seeds of the plant, and the leaves are commonly called cilantro. It has a light and sweet when left whole, full of citrus and curry. When ground, it has a more nutty flavor. Because this particular plant has so many applications, it can be used in a variety of ways.
The cuisines of India, Asia, and the Middle East extensively use the coriander plant (Coriandrum Sativum). Also called Chinese parsley, we know the leaves as both cilantro and coriander leaves. The seeds, which can be purchased whole or ground, are simply known as coriander seeds. Once dried and ground, these wonderful, delicately flavored seeds are often combined with ground cumin and other spices. These spice combinations create amazing curries and savory dishes.
Both the leaves and the seeds of the coriander plant contain potentially numerous health benefits. The active compound in coriander takes the name “linalool”. Found abundantly in the seeds, it contains potent antioxidants. These may provide protection against neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and metabolic syndrome. In general, the consensus is that coriander is an important functional food for promoting well-being. In modern times where aging and lifestyle-related diseases prevail, this becomes especially important.
It has so many benefits that a book could be written on them. It aids in the treatment of swellings, high cholesterol levels, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, anemia, digestion, menstrual disorders, conjunctivitis, skin disorders, urinary tract infections, nausea, and blood sugar disorders. Also, it has eleven components of essential oils, six types of acids (including ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C), minerals and vitamins, each having a number of beneficial properties. It also helps cure ulcers, inflammation, and spasms. Coriander acts as an expectorant, and protects and soothes the liver. It is anti-carcinogenic, anti-convulsant, anti-histaminic and hypnotic.
According to this article, the bioactive phyto (plant) chemicals in coriander account for “a wide range of biological activities including antioxidant, anticancer, neuroprotective, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, analgesic, migraine-relieving, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, antimicrobial, and ani-inflammatory activities”.
This PubMed review highlights the importance of coriander as “a potential source of bioactive constituents”, simply meaning it contains compounds that directly support the health of the body. The hope is that these active compounds will one day combine with conventional drugs. This is in order to enhance the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Additionally, the common knowledge among holistic health practitioners is that coriander may help to detoxify heavy metals from the body. This PubMed article gives that some merit by concluding that coriander leaf extract helps resist oxidative stress in the kidneys by decreasing the concentration of heavy metals. As well, in October, 2012, Alternative and Culinary Therapies published a lengthy article entitled “Cilantro – Culinary Herb or Miracle Medicinal Plant?”, a review of the medicinal effects of coriander that goes on to show its potential for protecting against heavy metals and toxins, skin infections, treatment of H. pylori and ulcer formation, and its use as a sedative and pain reliever. The article suggests the need for more human studies to assess the benefits of coriander.