"Cilantro is featured in dishes cooked everywhere from Spain to Mexico, the Middle East to the South America. The fresh leafs are often sprinkled over the tops of dishes, and the root is used in Thailand to give that distinctly powerful flavor to local dishes. You may already know that cilantro is one of the main ingredients in the salsa at your favorite Mexican restaurant.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, has a distinct aroma due to its concentrated essential oils. This captivating aroma may have been responsible for humans around the world intuitively incorporating cilantro into their diets for health reasons that modern science is just beginning to understand.
The History of Organic Cilantro
While it’s difficult to prove where exactly this powerful herb may have originated, experts suggest that this valuable plant hails from the Near East or southern Europe due to the fact that these regions contain large amounts of the herb growing in the wild.³ Archeologists have also found remnants of cilantro cultivation in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, including that of the famous King Tutankhamen.¹
Cilantro was also cultivated in ancient Greece; the leaves being used for foods, and the robust essential oil being used for perfume-making. The Romans then introduced the herb to what is now modern day England during medieval times, where it was used to mask the smells of rotten meat. From Europe, the British brought cilantro to the North American colonies in 1670, and it has been a popular staple in the Americas ever since.²
The Health Benefits of Cilantro
This herb isn’t just a commonly-used leaf and seed ingredient found in many tasty and exotic recipes, it’s also a powerful natural cleansing agent. Cilantro has been effectively used to help remove heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body.
The chemical compounds in cilantro actually bind to the heavy metals, loosening them from the tissues, blood and organs. Cilantro’s chemical compounds then aid to transport these harmful substances out of the body through elimination.
There is also a large amount of literature suggesting that cilantro could be one of nature’s best chelation agents, particularly for individuals who have been exposed to heightened levels of mercury. Mercury excess is a common problem that may be the result of metallic teeth fillings or over-consumption of predatory fish. Many people suffering from excess mercury report that the feeling of disorientation resulting from the poisoning can be greatly reduced through consuming large and regular amounts of cilantro over an extended period.
Also, the rich qualities of cilantro oil have a powerfully positive effect on our inner digestive tract. The oils aid our digestive system in its production of digestive enzymes, acids and juices. The oil also helps to stimulate digestion through peristaltic motion.
The known benefits of cilantro are extensive, and researchers are discovering more every day. Currently, there are several well-known, well-documented benefits of organic cilantro, including:
List of Cilantro Benefits:
Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis
Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products
Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
Relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence and an overall digestive aid
Wards off urinary tract infections
Helps reduce feelings of nausea
Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation
Has been shown to reduce menstrual cramping.
Adds fiber to the digestive tract
A source of iron, magnesium, and is helpful in fighting anemia
Gives relief for diarrhea, especially if caused by microbial or fungal infections
Helps promote healthy liver function.
Reduces minor swelling
Strong general antioxidant properties
Disinfects and helps detoxify the body
Stimulates the endocrine glands
Helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar
Acts as a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal agent for skin disorders like fungal infections and eczema
Contains immune-boosting properties
Acts as an expectorant
Helps ease conjunctivitis, as well as eye-aging, macular degeneration, and other stressors on the eyes.
James A. Duke, Ph.D., a former botanist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and author of The CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, states that cilantro has been shown to settle the stomach. He recommends drinking a cup of the tea made from a handful of the leaves, when experiencing any form of stomach discomfort.4
Natural Compounds in Organic Cilantro
Cineole and linoleic acid are two primary components of organic cilantro that contain anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties. These two components also help purge extra water present in the body due to swelling. Cilantro also contains oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Each of these elements are effective in lowering high cholesterol in the blood, as well as the internal walls of the veins and arteries.
Borneol and Linalool, other components of cilantro, work to cleanse the liver and reduce diarrhea. As well as Cineole, Limonene, Alpha-pinene & beta-phelandrene. Each of which contains anti-bacterial properties. The Citronelol component is a well-known natural antiseptic, helping to reduce bad-breath, heal mouth-wounds and prevent oral ulcers. It also contains high amounts of vitamin-A, and important minerals like phosphorus.
The best known chemical found in cilantro is a substance called Dodecenal. In a recent study led by Isao Kubo, Ph.D at the University of Berkeley, laboratory tests have shown that this component of cilantro is two times as potent as the commonly-used allopathic antibiotic medicine, gentamicin. This is the same antibiotic used to kill Salmonella, a potentially deadly food-born disease. Researchers believe that cilantro is the only natural antibacterial agent that is more effective than gentamicin. These same researchers are even looking into using organic cilantro oil as a way to eradicate the ever-growing problem of allopathic antibiotic resistance.5
The Cultivation of Organic Cilantro
Cilantro, or Coriandrum sativum, is from the Apiaceae family, and is an annual herb. Organic Cilantro is grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and with a clean water source. This soft plant normally grows to about 50 centimeters tall. The fresh, raw leaves and seeds are used medicinally and as a cooking herb, although the entire plant, including the root, is edible. It is easy to grow cilantro in an indoor herb garden, or in a pot or herb garden outside. To best grow cilantro, plant it in an area that will receive full sun. The soil should be kept well-drained but constantly moist.
Side Effects or Contraindications of Organic Cilantro
While many sources state that cilantro has little to no adverse side effects, there are some sources that warn that cilantro leaf should not be used during pregnancy, as it may lead to an increase chance of miscarriage in mothers, or may reduce chances of conception in women trying to become pregnant. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, please consult with your health care provider before consuming cilantro in any form.
John Chadwick, The Mycenaean World (Cambridge: University Press, 1976), p. 119
Fragiska, M. (2005). Wild and Cultivated Vegetables, Herbs and Spices in Greek Antiquity. Environmental Archaeology 10 (1): 73-82
Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 206
Changes in Volatile Compounds of ?-Irradiated Fresh Cilantro Leaves during Cold Storage. Xuetong Fan* and Kimberly J. B. Sokorai. Eastern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038
Antibacterial Activity of Coriander Volatile Compounds against Salmonella choleraesuis. Isao Kubo, et. al. Journal of Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (26), pp 7622-7626. Published 2002 American Chemical Society
Cilantro Health Benefits