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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

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Also listed as: Coriandrum sativum, Coriander leaf
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Apiaceae (family), carotenoid, Chinese parsley, coentro (Portuguese), coriander, coriander leaf, coriander leaves, Coriandrum sativum, curry leaf, curry leaves, Indian parsley, ko-en-do-ro (Japanese), koriander, Mexican parsley, tannin, Umbelliferae (family).
  • Combination product: Carmint (Melissa officinalis, Mentha spicata, Coriandrum sativum).
  • Note: This monograph includes information about cilantro, the leaf of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum), and the coriander plant in general. It does not include information about the seed, the fruit, coriander spice, or coriander essential oil. The name "Chinese parsley" is used to refer to both cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), as well as an unrelated species, Heliotropium curassavicum; the latter is not covered in this monograph. This monograph does not cover false coriander, called culantro (Eryngium foetidum).

Background
  • 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

Evidence Table

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. GRADE *


There is preliminary evidence that cilantro and antibiotic coadministration is effective at treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Further research is needed in this area.

C


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.

C


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.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. 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 healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • 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.

Dosing

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.

Safety

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.

Allergies

  • 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.

Interactions

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.

Attribution
  • 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).

Bibliography
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Copyright © 2011 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.

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