Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb in the Apiaceae family. The leaves are also referred to as “coriander leaves,” “Chinese parsley,” or “cilantro” (from Spanish) in the Americas. “Coriander” also refers to the spice produced from coriander seeds.
Known for its strong flavor, cilantro is often used in Mexican, Asian, and Caribbean cooking. Recipes that specifically call for “fresh coriander” are referring to the leaves (cilantro). Both coriander and cilantro are commonly used in soups, salads, dressings, salsa, and chutney. The leaves are used in curry and guacamole.
There is some evidence that Coriandrum sativum may improve vision, digestion, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Clinical studies have been done testing the use of cilantro to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and irritable bowel syndrome. It has also been used to treat mercury poisoning. However, better-designed clinical trials are needed before conclusions can be made regarding the effectiveness of cilantro for any condition.
Chinese herbal medicine uses cilantro and coriander for measles, stomachache, and nausea. It is traditionally used as a home remedy for heat stroke, high blood sugar, and hemorrhoids. Some studies suggest that coriander juice mixed with turmeric powder or mint juice may be used as a treatment for acne.
The flavor of cilantro has been described as a mix of parsley and citrus. Coriander is popular in Indian curries, spice mixtures, and tea infusions. Coriander oil is used for its antibacterial effects and as a natural fragrance in perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetics
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
There is preliminary evidence that cilantro and antibiotic coadministration is effective at treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Further research is needed in this area.
|Chelating agent (heavy metals)
Cilantro has been reported to remove mercury, lead, and aluminum from the body by promoting the urination of these metals. There is preliminary evidence that cilantro may prevent the body from absorbing mercury found in dental fillings.
|Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
There is preliminary evidence that a combination product containing Coriandrum sativum may be effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Further research in this area is needed.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Acne, anthelmintic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antipyretic, antispasmodic, anxiety, aphrodisiac, appetite stimulant, aromatherapy, aromatic, arthritis, bad breath, blood purifier, cancer, carminative, cellulitis, circulation, colic, deodorant, diabetes, digestive, diuretic, dyspepsia, elimination of toxins, eye problems, fever (heat stroke), flatulence, flavoring agent, food uses, fragrance, gastric ulcer, gout, hemorrhoids, hepatitis, hernia, high cholesterol, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), infections, insecticide, insomnia, jaundice, labor induction, laxative, measles, multiple sclerosis, nausea, preservative, respiratory disorders, rheumatism, sedative, skin conditions, stimulant, stomach cramps, stomachache, tonic, ulcers, wounds.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Two teaspoons of cilantro pesto taken daily for three months have been used to help remove heavy metals from the body.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for cilantro in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
People with a known allergy or sensitivity to cilantro or members of the Apiaceae family should avoid cilantro. Cilantro should also be avoided by people with a known allergy or sensitivity to mugwort, birch pollen, celery, caraway, fennel, garlic, onion, anise, or dill.
Side Effects and Warnings
Cilantro is likely to be safe when used in moderation in foods. Cilantro leaves should be washed to avoid the risk of contamination with pesticides, bacteria, and parasites. Cilantro should also be served promptly after chopping to avoid possible contamination.
Cilantro may cause inflammation of the skin or hives when touched.
Cilantro may cause rhinitis (inflammation of the nose), asthma, cough, chest tightness, endocrine toxicity, or irritated and dry throat.
Cilantro may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Cilantro may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking agents that lower blood pressure.
Cilantro may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
People with a known allergy or sensitivity to cilantro or members of the Apiaceae family should avoid cilantro. Cilantro should also be avoided by people with a known allergy or sensitivity to mugwort, birch pollen, celery, caraway, fennel, garlic, onion, anise, or dill. There have been reports of rhinoconjunctivitis (rhinitis and conjunctivitis) and bronchospasm (bronchial smooth muscle spasm) during an allergic reaction.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of cilantro during pregnancy or lactation.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Cilantro may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Cilantro may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Cilantro may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking agents that lower blood pressure.
Cilantro may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Cilantro may also interact with agents that increase sensitivity to light, agents that remove heavy metals, antibiotics, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antiulcer agents, cholesterol-lowering agents, gastrointestinal agents, hepatotoxic agents, and laxatives.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Cilantro may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Cilantro may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Cilantro may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
Cilantro may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the cytochrome P450 system.
Cilantro may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiulcer herbs and supplements, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, hepatotoxic herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that increase sensitivity to light, herbs and supplements that remove heavy metals, and laxatives.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Chowdhury, B. R., Chakraborty, R., and Raychaudhuri, U. Study on beta-galactosidase enzymatic activity of herbal yogurt. Int.J Food Sci.Nutr. 2008;59(2):116-122. View Abstract
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- Fan, X. and Sokorai, K. J. Changes in volatile compounds of gamma-irradiated fresh cilantro leaves during cold storage. J Agric.Food Chem. 12-18-2002;50(26):7622-7626. View Abstract
- Fan, X. and Sokorai, K. J. Retention of quality and nutritional value of 13 fresh-cut vegetables treated with low-dose radiation. J Food Sci. 2008;73(7):S367-S372. View Abstract
- Foley, D., Euper, M., Caporaso, F., and Prakash, A. Irradiation and chlorination effectively reduces Escherichia coli O157:H7 inoculated on cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) without negatively affecting quality. J Food Prot. 2004;67(10):2092-2098. View Abstract
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- Gray, A. M. and Flatt, P. R. Insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity of the traditional anti-diabetic plant Coriandrum sativum (coriander). Br.J Nutr. 1999;81(3):203-209. View Abstract
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- Punna, R. and Rao, Paruchuri U. Effect of maturity and processing on total, insoluble and soluble dietary fiber contents of Indian green leafy vegetables. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2004;55(7):561-567. View Abstract
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- Tarwadi, K. and Agte, V. Potential of commonly consumed green leafy vegetables for their antioxidant capacity and its linkage with the micronutrient profile. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2003;54(6):417-425. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.