By Garry Messick
Many people don’t realize that the herb known as cilantro does not come from a plant of that name, but is in fact the leaves and stems of the coriander plant. As such, cilantro is related to cumin, dill, fennel, and anise.
Cilantro has been used in cooking for hundreds of years, and is known for its strong, citrus-like flavor, which pairs well with seasonings such as mint, basil, and turmeric. The tasty herb is also famed for its health benefits, such as:
Cilantro has been found to have a significant calming effect, making it a good candidate as a natural treatment for relief of anxiety. In fact, high doses of cilantro extract were found to have effects similar to the popular anti-anxiety drug Valium®,1 but without that drug’s many distressing side effects, such as confusion, hallucinations, agitation, and memory problems.
Elimination of Heavy Metals
The accumulation of toxic metals and chemical elements such as lead, mercury, aluminum, and arsenic in our bodies can have seriously detrimental health effects, including neurological damage, infertility, heart disease and hormonal imbalances. Cilantro can help counter these effects. It has been found to accelerate the elimination of heavy metals.2 In mice, simultaneous administration of cilantro extract protected against lead-induced oxidative stress.3
Wards off Infection
Cilantro helps protect against a wide range of diseases—including but not limited to salmonella, cholera, and food poisoning—due to its antibacterial properties. Research has shown that essential oil of cilantro is effective against Listeria.4
In an animal study, cilantro extract has been shown to help lower blood sugar and support healthy liver function where diabetes is present.5 In accordance with their findings, the study authors recommend cilantro extract be included in diabetics’ diets.
- Indian J Pharmacol. 2011;43(5):574-7.
- Acupunct Electrother Res. 1995;20(3-4):195-229.
- Biol Trace Elem Res. 2010;136(3):337-54.
- Int J Food Microbiol. 2002;74(1-2):101-9.
- J Food Sci. 2012;77(7):T119-23.