Cilantro, What are its Benefits and Risks?

Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander. Both names are commonly used to describe this herb, as well as Chinese parsley. Some countries call the leaves cilantro and the seeds coriander. Originally, it came from the Mediterranean, being cultivated in Greece since the second millennium BC. Coriander seeds were even found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. It was also used by ancient Egyptians, and it is even mentioned in the Bible!

Hippocrates, who is known as the father of modern medicine, recommended the use of this herb. He was the first to believe disease was caused by natural forces (not by the will of gods). Remember he said “let food be thy medicine” and was a firm believer that food could cure or cause diseases.

Chinese also used this herb since ancient times, as an immortality tonic. Arabians believed it could cure infertility. During the Middle Ages it was used in love potions.

Most people either love or hate this herb, there is nowhere in between. For some, these leaves taste like soap, grass or crushed bugs. About 14% of people think it smells nasty – this is due to their genetic makeup.

Growing cilantro requires some tricks, but in general it is quite easy to do so – unless you live in a very hot place!

This herb is similar to dill, where you can use both the leaves and the seeds. It is supposed to be perennial, but it grows as an annual and can only be used until it flowers and bolts.

Composition of Cilantro

Leaves and stems of this plant contain anti-oxidant flavonoids including quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and apigenin. It also contains many essential volatile oils including linalool.

Minerals such as calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc are part of its composition. Iron is needed for red blood cell production, while the body uses manganese as an antioxidant enzyme. It is also a source of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which helps regulate heart and blood pressure.

100 grams of cilantro provide 30% of the daily recommended dosage of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. This herb also has a high dosage of vitamin A, about 225% of the daily intake per 100 grams. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy skin, mucous and vision. It is also one of the most powerful herbal sources for vitamin K, providing 258% of the daily value. This vitamin is important for treating Alzheimer’s disease, as it limits neuronal damage of the brain. It is also very important in bone mass building.

Cilantro is also a source of vitamin B6, E and folate. This herb (and basil) have the highest levels of beta-cryptoxanthin and carotenoids beta-carotene, as well as zeaxanthin, and lutein, which are known for their antioxidant properties. Large amounts of chlorophyll help flush toxins and bacteria from the digestive tract, liver and kidney that otherwise would accumulate in your feet and armpits to be sweat out.

Benefits of Cilantro

Lower Blood Sugar

People who have high blood sugar are more at risk for diabetes type 2. Coriander seed oil can help lower blood sugar according to studies done in animals. It promotes enzyme activity that removes sugar from the blood and increases insulin release. If you have low blood sure or take medications it is best to be cautious. Coriander seeds also helps protect the liver.


Anti-inflammatory properties can help with chronic inflammations that causes illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It is also very effective at managing rheumatoid arthritis, since it offers pain relief of the joints and swelling.


As mentioned before, cilantro is very rich in antioxidants which prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants also fight inflammation in your body and seeds can slow the growth of severe types of cancer cells, such as colon, breast, prostate and lung. Root extracts correct DNA damage, destroy cancer cells and prevent cancer from migrating to other cells.

Cardiovascular and Heart Health

Some studies show that cilantro lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL). Blood pressure is lowered by relaxing the veins and arteries. It also cuts cholesterol buildup in the arteries protecting against heart diseases and atherosclerosis.

Since it is a diuretic, it can help flush excess water and sodium from the body which reduces blood pressure. Populations that eat diets with more spices have less heart diseases than Western diets, which consume a lot more sugar and salt (although I don’t believe real salt is as bad as they say).

Brain Health

Inflammation can cause many brain ailments including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Its anti-inflammatory properties help protect against these conditions. If you read my article on how to detox with cilantro, you will understand that this herb can flush heavy metals from soft tissue such as the brain. A study done on mice shows that these leaves can help improve memory.

It can also help manage anxiety (as effective as valium without the side effects according to a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology), depression and stress. Inhale cilantro essential oil to protect spatial memory formation. Extracts can protect cognitive abilities and help prevent brain function decline.

Improved Digestion and Gut Health

Iranian medicine uses cilantro extract as an appetite stimulant. The oil from coriander seeds promotes healthy digestion. It can also reduce bloating, discomfort and abdominal pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Coriander seeds can be brewed in a tea to give relief to people who are vomiting (and have headaches) since it is an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It can also help decrease the effect of Helicobacter pylori infections in the gut. Those that have diarrhea can take this herb since it is antimicrobial and has carminative effects.

Fight Infections

Antimicrobial compounds found in cilantro can help fight all kinds of infections. Coriander seeds can fight the bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections (UTIs). While a compound called dodecenal can fight salmonella, listeria, dysentery, and cholera. Antibacterial formulas found in the herb can fight foodborne illnesses and hospital-acquired infections.


Cilantro juice (best to use a juicer) can help with skin conditions including dryness, oiliness, pigmentation, acne and mild rashes, such as dermatitis. Antioxidants prevent cellular damage that can accelerate skin aging. It can also protect the skin from ultra violet B rays.

Antifungal Properties

Cilantro oil (from leaves) has anti fungal properties and can be used as a treatment against candidiasis (thrush).

Menstrual Problems

Both leaves and seeds are considered effective means of supporting healthy menstruation by regulating a woman’s hormones. It can also relieve symptoms including pain, bloating and cramps.

Purifies Water

It was discovered that this herb helps purify water since it has bio-absorbent properties that filter the water. You can add it ground up to the pipes from where the water flows. Put dried cilantro into teabags so they can absorb the toxins. It will filter metals and impurities. Farmers use this method for their crops.

Risks of Cilantro

Risks listed come from over consumption of the herb, unless you are allergic or have pre-existing conditions. In general side effects of cilantro are quite rare and it is considered a safe food. Larger doses require medical supervision or knowing how to detoxify.


Cilantro moves heavy metals in the body, probably more effectively than anything else! While this is incredible, it can also be dangerous because it does not bind. If your body does not flush the metals, they just move from a safer hiding place to new areas. You should use a binder like chlorella or calcium bentonite clay if you plan on detoxing.

Diarrhea and Upset Stomach

A little bit can help gastrointestinal issues, but too much can upset your stomach causing conditions such as stomach pain, vomiting, abdominal cramps, gas and diarrhea. These conditions can cause dehydration.

Liver Damage

This herb contains certain volatile essential oils that trigger the functionality of the liver. Antioxidants help eliminate liver problems. But having too much can cause the opposite effect, forcing the parts of the liver to work in reverse, thus increasing bile secretion and harming the liver.

Low Blood Pressure

Having too much of this herb is bad for your cardiac health since it can severely lower your blood pressure and even cause a person to be unconscious.

Breathing Problems

People with respiratory issues should not consume too much since it could cause chronic lung diseases like asthma. This herb could also cause shortness of breath and chest pain.

Allergic and Skin Reactions

Cilantro has a protein that is misinterpreted as detrimental by our body. To counterbalance, our bodies produce an antibody called IgE. Allergies won’t be life threatening; effects can include dermatitis, eczema patches, swelling, itching, rashes, and hives. People who are allergic to dill, fennel or aniseed may also be allergic to this herb.

This leafy herb contains some acidic elements that can make your skin sensitive to light, as well as cause oral inflammation.

Fetal Damage

Detoxing with cilantro is not recommended during pregnancy (or breastfeeding) because it can move heavy metals into your stomach (harming the health of the fetus) or breastmilk.