THE MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF CILANTRO
Cilantro (or coriander) is an herb easily available in the market at most provision stores and is grown extensively in countries like India. Basically, it is used as a garnish to add flavour to items in cookery. It looks like this:
It is a perennial herb. It requires fertile and well drained soil and lots of water. It also requires sunshine to flourish. It grows to a height of two feet. It can also be grown in the kitchen garden inside the house. It is different from Parsley as its leaves are rounded unlike the pointy leaves of parsley(E). As both are generally sold side by side and they have different properties, it is important to distinguish the two. We have a saying in Kannada (my language), which when freely translated means “A medicinal plant that grows in the back yard is rarely considered an effective antidote”. Cilantro is a classical example as it is so common that people rarely recognize the medicinal qualities of the herb and its seeds. Cilantro is the name given to the leaves of the herb and Coriander is the name of the seeds.
The idea of this write up is to bring out the effective medicinal properties of the herb. The hypothesis (Claim) is : “Cilantro has effective medicinal value.” I have made a survey of literature on the subject; differentiated between the medicinal properties of Cilantro and Coriander; looked up the discussion about the herb in books on ayurveda; and also conducted a small test.
The first reason is that Cilantro has potent ingredients that have medicinal value. Cilantro and Coriander have different ingredients and, hence, have different medicinal values. Cilantro is full of vitamins (K,C,A,E). It has no fat and is cholesterol free. In combination with other herbs like Fennel, Cumin, Cardamom, it serves as a body cleanser, flushes out the kidneys and reduces fever. It improves digestion and has anti bacterial anti oxidant properties. Coriander (the seed) is full of minerals like phosphorus, potassium, zinc, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It has a diuretic effect and helps in digestion. It alleviates IBS. It has the effect of reducing the blood sugar levels and is very helpful in controlling type 2 diabetes. It is advised that it is not consumed with drugs having effects similar to the herb to ensure that there is no reaction or excess dosage. It is generally safe and does not have any known drug interactions. It is used in dosages 1-30 g/day or 3-15 ml/day. (I), (A), (B), (C), (D),(F),(G) .
The second reason to support the claim is that from time immemorial Cilantro and Coriander have been used as medicine in Ayurveda and other native systems of medicine all over the world. (D),(F),(H),(I). Cilantro and Coriander have been used for thousands of years to treat digestive upset, gas, fungal and bacterial infections, and to prevent food poisoning. Some studies show that it can help to lower blood sugar, and even kill parasites in the digestive tract.
There have been references to Cilantro/Coriander in various ancient books on Ayurveda thereby showing that knowledge of the medicinal properties of the herb was well known during ancient times. Some of these ancient books are Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hrudayam, Bhaishajya Ratnavali, Sharangdhara Samhita. (J).
I decided to initiate a trial. I am aware that I am not a doctor or researcher. The trial was not a clinical trial in the strict sense. I requested three volunteers to help. I realised that the best benefit of cilantro would be to control diabetes which has reached epidemic proportions in India. Details of this trial and conclusions which point to the medicinal properties of Coriander are brought out in Annexure K.
- Coriander (leaves and seeds) have medicinal properties.
- These benefits are not fully made use of as people do not appreciate the medical benefits of an herb that is so commonly available.
- The medical benefits of coriander have been listed in the first part of the write up.
- Many of these benefits are based upon the noting in well recognized books on Ayurveda and may not necessarily be backed up by the modern concept of clinical trials. At the same time the information contained in these books has held the field for ages and were (at that time) based on experiments conducted and procedures evolved.
- It is recommended that robust clinical trials are initiated to prove or disprove the medicinal properties of Coriander/Cilantro. In case such properties are proved, this herb would be a panacea for quite a few ailments.
LIST OF CITATIONS.
- Rudrappa Umesh. Cilantro herbs nutritional facts. 2009. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cilantro.html.
- Ware Megan. September 2016.Cilantro health benefits facts. September 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277627.php.
- Group Edward. The health benefits of Cilantro. December 2012. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-cilantro/.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander. Coriander. October 2016.
- Cilantro/Parsley. No author. July 2014. http://www.diffen.com/difference/Cilantro_vs_Parsley.
- Khaled Haidari. Coriander the Wealthy One. Student article. 2012. http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/CorianderTheWealthy. California College of Ayurveda.
- Sifferlin Alexandra. Cilantro: More Than An Herb, It Can Purify Water Too. September 2013. http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/12/cilantro-more-than-an-herb-it-can-purify-water-too/.
I. Dr. Axe Josh. Cilantro Nutrition Facts. 2016. https://draxe.com/cilantro-benefits/.
Coriander Nutrition Facts
Calcium: 35.4 mg
Magnesium: 16.5 mg
Phosphorus: 20.5 mg
Potassium: 63.3 mg
- Dr. Hebbar J V http://easyayurveda.com/2013/03/04/coriander-seed-and-leaves-health-benefits-complete-ayurveda-details/. 2016.
- The first volunteer (herein X) is 65 years of age, male, overweight, has poor digestion and has type 2 diabetes for the last 20 years (on oral medications). His fasting blood sugar is 114; and the level after food is 180. The second volunteer (herein Y) is 35 years old, female. Marginally diabetic. No oral drugs. Her fasting blood sugar is 120 and after food are 160. The third volunteer (herein Z) is a healthy male aged 40 years. His fasting sugar level is 90 and after food are 120.
I soaked two spoons of coriander (seeds) in quarter litre water for two hours and requested the volunteers to drink the water only (not the seeds) before going to bed. I alerted them about possible stomach problems initially as coriander is a body cleanser. I found that X and Y had loose motion in the morning showing that the body was cleansing itself. Z did not have any such problem. May be X and Y had a weakened gut due to diabetes. The loose motion stopped after an hour. There was no apparent change in the blood sugar levels. We repeated the procedure the next day. Loose motion did not occur. The blood sugar levels of X were reduced (fasting) to 106 and that after food to 160. Those of Y were 110 and 150 respectively. There was no change in Z.
We stopped for three days and repeated the procedure. There was no loose motion. Sugar levels of X were 100 and 150 respectively and for Y they were 105 and 140. Those of Z were the same.
We did not repeat the procedures. The prima facie conclusions were as under:
- Coriander is a body cleanser. But impacts persons with weak digestion more.
- Coriander lowers blood sugar levels and thus helps persons with type 2 diabetes.
- It does not lower the blood sugar levels in normal persons and so it is safe to use.
- It should be used with care by persons on oral/insulin anti diabetic medication to avoid hypoglycaemia.