Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.)
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) in the parsley family (Apiaceae) is native to Mediterranean Europe and western Asia.1 It is a strong smelling herb with a hollow stem and can grow to three feet high.
History and Traditional Use
The fruit (seeds) and leaves have been used traditionally as an aromatic carminative (reducing gas in the stomach and intestines), stomachic (stimulating digestion), and antispasmodic (treating spasms of smooth muscle such as the stomach). Coriander was used by Hippocrates and other Greek physicians and was later introduced to Britain by the Romans. It has been widely used around the world, from Africa to northern Europe where the seeds were mixed with bread. In the East, coriander has been used as an ingredient in curry.2 In traditional Chinese medicine, coriander was used to treat measles, dysentery, hemorrhoids, stomachache, nausea, and painful hernias.3
Modern Medicinal Use
Very few modern clinical studies have been conducted on coriander. However, the modern therapeutic efficacy of coriander is based on its use in well established traditional medicine, its nutrient composition, and phytochemical studies.1 Coriander has been approved by the German Commission E for internal use in dyspeptic complaints (disturbed digestion) and loss of appetite.4 It is also used as a treatment for complaints in the upper abdomen such as a feeling of distension (uncomfortable fullness), flatulence (excessive gas), and mild cramps.1 The fruits are still used as an aromatic carminative and in laxative preparations to prevent griping (bowel or stomach spasms). Coriander oil is primarily used as a flavoring agent in pharmaceutical preparations.3 In modern research, coriander exhibits antibacterial properties, which could be the mechanism by which coriander achieves its “odor control”.5
Modern Consumer Use
Coriander is used as an aromatic spice in many foods from stews to cakes and breads.6 The young leaves are commonly used as a garnish in cooking; they are known as Chinese parsley in Asian cuisine and cilantro in Spanish cooking.3 The fruit (seed) is sometimes used in products that help with digestion and intestinal gas. The seeds and oil are frequently used as flavor ingredients in many food products such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, puddings, meat and meat products, condiments, and relishes. In cosmetics, the oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, creams, lotions, and perfumes. The oil is also used in flavoring tobacco.3
1 Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin (TX): American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
2 Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Volume 1. New York: Dover Publications, Inc; 1971.
3 Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients
Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley-Interscience; 1996.
4 Blumenthal M, Hall T, Goldberg A, Kunz T, Dinda K, Brinckmann J, et al, editors. Klein S, Rister RS, translators. The Complete German Commission E Monographs&emdash;Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin (TX): American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998.
5 Elgayyar M, Draughon FA, Golden DA, Mount JR. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms. Journal of Food Protection 2001;64:1019-24
6 Davidson A. The Oxford Companion to Food. New York: Oxford Press Inc.; 1999.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.