Properties of Coriander or Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

What are the Properties of Cilantro, Coriander or Coriandrum sativum ?

In northern countries of Europe, Coriander seeds are used for flavoring certain alcoholic liquors (gin-distillation). This is in fact the main reason behind excessive growth of cilantro in the regions of Europe (especially Essex). The Africans referred Cilantro as “Goid” which is derived by “Gesenius” from a verb “Gadad” meaning – to cut.

The seeds of cilantro have a light lemony flavor and  they are often grounded and used as a spice. The leaves (also known as cilantro) have a slightly bitter taste and can be chopped up and added to dishes and breads or used as a garnish in various cuisines.


Chemical Constituents

The flowers of Cilantro contain Benzofuran, Hexadecanoic acid, Methyl ester, 2-4-a-epioxy, a-tetra-methyl-2h, 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol, Amino-benzo-quinone, Dodecanoic acid, Tetra-fluroanisole.

The Coriandrum sativum essential oil is a triglyceride oil (petroselinic acid) which is a mono-saturated fatty acid. Its green foliage contains protiens, vitaminsminerals (calcium, phosphorus, carotene, thiamine, niacin, vitamin-C, riboflavin and iron), fibers and carbohydrates.  It has alcohols (linalool, geraniol, terpinen,a-terpineol), hydrocarbons (γ-terpinene, r-cymene, limonene, a-pinene, camphene, myrcene), ketons (camphor) and Esters (geranyl acetate, linalyl acetate).

Medicinal Properties of Cilantro

Cilantro seeds (Coriander) were used in Greek medicines by Hippocrates (460-377 BC). The decoction and tincture of powdered seeds of Coriandrum sativum are used for treatment of dyspeptic complaints, loss of appetite, convulsion, insomnia and anxiety.It has other properties like

  • Antibacterial Properties
  • Anti-fungal Properties
  • Antioxidant Properties
  • Antispasmodic Properties
  • Expectorant
  • Antiseptic Properties
  • Anri-cancer
  • Laxative/carminative
  • Treats Menstrual Disorders
  • Anti-allergic Properties

Antibacterial Properties

A compound found in the leaves and seeds of cilantro  dodecanal  has also been found to have an antibacterial effect against Salmonella and is thus useful in prevention of salmonella poisoning. Its anti-bacterial properties help in improve oral health of a person. Its components like cineole, borneol, limonene, alpha-pinene & beta-phellandrene have antibacterial effects.

Anti-fungal Properties

Although there are a number of treatments for fungal infections (oral candidiasis – thrush), but they often have unpleasant side effects. Cilantro or Coriander-based essential oil works well against Candida albicans.

Antioxidant Properties

As antioxidants dietary carotenoids decrease the risk of numerous conditions, including several cancers and eye diseases. The terpenoids present in coriander are a source of pleasant odor and are powerful cellular antioxidants. A study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition showed that basil and coriander contained the highest levels of the carotenoids, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, along with high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. All these pigments are known for their antioxidant properties.

Anti-cancer Agent

Cilantro or coriander, can prevent heterocyclic amine (HCA) formation in meats during cooking.The National Cancer Institute defines HCAs as chemicals released from meat when it is cooked at high temperatures. A high consumption of foods containing HCAs is associated to a higher risk of cancer. Researchers believe that coriander can protect against colon cancer by reducing cholesterol levels, and increasing the excretion of sterol compounds and bile, in the body. This process decreases toxic levels in the colon, lowering the risk for cancer in the human body.

Coriander Treats Menstrual Disorders

Cilantro seeds are a good source of linoleic acid, ascorbic acid, steric acid and palmitic acid. They support proper secretion of hormones and prevent menstrual disorders. They can be soaked overnight in water and consumed the next morning to get more benefits.

Laxative and Carminative Effects of Cilantro

Cilantro leaves offer relief from indigestion problems as well as feelings of nausea. They enable the digestive tract to produce digestive enzymes as well as digestive juices, thus preventing flatulence and settling queasy stomach. This herb also stimulates digestion through its peristaltic actions. Its antioxidant properties help in promoting a healthy liver function. Cilantro leaves are a good source of roughage and fiber and thus help in relieving gastrointestinal problems.

Anti-Allergic Properties

Many studies  show that coriander has strong anti-histamine properties that can reduce the uncomfortable effects of seasonal allergies and hay fever (rhinitis). Its oil can also be used to reduce allergic reactions that are caused due to contact with plants, insects, food, and other substances. Internally, it can ward off anaphylaxis, hives, and dangerous swelling of the throat and glands.

Antiseptic Properties

The essential oils in coriander have excellent antiseptic properties due to the presence of a compound known as “citronellol”. The other additional components of coriander have antimicrobial and healing effects which prevent wounds and ulcers in the mouth from worsening. They help speed up the healing process of ulcers and help in preventing bad breath. Although not commonly used in mainstream products, coriander is often used as an antiseptic component in all-natural kinds of toothpaste.

Cilantro as Expectorant

The retention of fluid in the respiratory system is an annoying health problem. The leaves of Cilantro have expectorant qualities and they promote secretion of sputum by the air passages along with treating coughs.

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