Cilantro (also called coriander, or Chinese parsley) is perhaps one of the world’s most versatile spices, as a staple in cuisine from around the world. This might be because it helps to alleviate heartburn, gas, or bloating that might otherwise result from spicy dishes. But its benefits go far beyond just aiding with digestion.
Cilantro for Detoxification
Cilantro as medicine is probably best known for its ability to assist with excretion of heavy metals. While certainly concentrated forms of cilantro work best for this, such as tinctures, even just eating cilantro has been shown to have this effect, accelerating elimination of mercury, lead, and aluminum.
It has also been shown to assist with excretion via urine of high doses of arsenic, cadmium, and excess copper as well.
Cilantro as an Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory
Cilantro, like so many other whole foods, is also high in flavonoids which assist with regeneration of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. These flavonoids include terpinene, quercetin, and tocopherols.
This study shows that topical application protects skin cells from aging associated with sun exposure. Using the cilantro essential oil diluted in a carrier oil is probably the easiest way to reap these benefits. The essential oils are also anti-inflammatory, with effects even rivaling ibuprofen.
Cilantro for Cardiovascular Support
A plant-heavy diet is generally considered to be heart healthy, of course, but cilantro is especially helpful.
All parts of the plant, the stem and leaves, and the seeds, have been shown to lower blood glucose levels. This animal study showed that those effects from the seeds at a reasonably low dose was comparable to the action of the diabetes medication glyburide.
Cilantro as an Antimicrobial
It also aids the body against opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria alike—another great reason for it to show up in cuisine around the world, as it helps to protect against food poisoning.
One peptide found in cilantro leaves called plantaricin has even been shown to be effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria.
You might notice that many kitchen herbs seem to carry similar properties. Most of them are at least to some degree antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial. Many also include properties such as improving anxiety and depression, activity against cancer, and others (as did cilantro—those studies just weren’t as numerous as the ones I listed here.)
I suspect this is by design. God intended for us to eat real, unprocessed foods. He ensured that those foods were chock-full of the nutrients and medicinal compounds we would need to assist our bodies in defense against foreign invaders, and to repair from the oxidative and subsequent inflammatory stress that naturally accumulates over time. Everywhere we look, we find that the natural world is perfectly primed to help us heal.
…It’s like He wanted us to be healthy or something.
For more on how to incorporate cilantro into your diet, check out this video and the associated recipe links.