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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

CORIANDER (seed)/CILANTRO (leaves)
a.k.a. Chinese Parsley, Cilantro
(Coriandrum sativum)
[hú sui]
Also see: False Coriander

NOTE: Juice of the plant is considered an intoxicant.

FYINative to the Mediterranean and Caucasian regions, Coriander is a sparsely, feathery-leaved annual to 1 foot with pink pollen which is attractive to bees. STEMS are solid and ridged. Lower LEAVES are fanlike (lobed like parsley), the upper filagreed (finely divided like dill). FLOWERS are small, flat umbels, white to pale pink with a reddish accent, appearing in umbels in July and August. FRUIT appears in clusters of small green globes which mature to brown; although called 'seeds' they are technically 'fruit' as they contain 2 actual small seeds (see Propagation below). ROOT is thin and spindle-shaped.

Known historically as far back as 1500 BCE as a medicine and spice in the Mediterranean regions. In Egypt the seeds were found in King Tut's tomb (ca 1300 BCE). Grown commercially in India, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Argentina and on a smaller scale in the state of Kentucky for use in the liquor industry; the best seed is said to come from Egypt. Introduced into Chinese cuisine and medicine about 600 CE. Coriander was introduced into the United States with the first settlers before 1670.

The entire plant has an unpleasant odor until the seeds mature which take on a pleasant spicy aroma. The unpleasant odor gave rise to its name taken from the Greek 'koris' meaning bedbug.

Astrologically ruled by Mars and the Moon §

CONTAINS: Volatile oil and 5 antiasthmatic compounds.
FRUIT CONTAINS: Acetone, borneol, coriandrol, cymene, decanal, decanol, decyclic aldehyde, depentene, limonene, linalool, malic acid, nonanal, oxalic acid, phellandrene, tannic acid, terpinolene, terpinene, geraniol, camphor, carvone, anathole.
LEAVES CONTAIN: Vitamins A and C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, coumarins.

PROPAGATION By SEED. Annual. 'Seeds' are technically fruit as they contain 2 true seeds. Germination can be improved by rubbing fruits till the 2 seeds are separated. Soak seeds for 3 to 4 days, changing water twice a day to remove the coumarins which inhibit germination; dry the seeds for 8 hours, then plant where they are to grow. Soil temp should be 55 to 68ºF. Reseed every few weeks to maintain a steady supply of fresh leaves throughout the season.
NEEDS Grown as an ornamental in moderately rich, well-drained soil in full sun (prefers a lime-rich soil). Mulch early in the season. Plants grown for their leaves (cilantro) do better in part shade. C. sativum does better with a cool, wet spring followed by a hot, dry summer. Can be pot grown. Coriander has a tendency to bolt in hot, dry weather. It is best not to fertilize these plants as too much nitrogen can interfere with the development of the flavor.
PART USED Leaves, Seed, Oil, Root; young leaves used fresh for culinary purposes; for medicinal purposes the seeds are usually powdered.
HARVEST LEAVES when young (parsley like foliage used fresh in many Asian and Latin dishes and is called 'cilantro'); collect mature SEEDS (BEFORE the seeds scatter) by cutting the whole plant and hanging to dry. Punch holes in the sides of a paper bag and tie over hanging bunches to catch seeds; store leaves and seeds separately. Allow seeds to mature in storage for 6 months before use.
FORM Liquid extract, Distilled oil, Crushed seeds, Powdered seeds


♦ Part used medicinally are the seeds. Used in large part as a flavoring for other herbal medications. Not currently used for anything more than appetite loss and indigestion.
Spicy, neutral, aromatic, digestive aid, carminative, diuretic, diaphoretic, alterative, expectorant, antispasmodic and possibly hypoglycemic; oil is fungicidal, bacteriacidal. Affects bladder and stomach.
Said to reduce diarrhea, especially in children.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine the tea has been used for dysentary and measles, while an infusion of the leaf has been used to speed up the eruptive process of smallpox and measles; a decoction of the seed has been used as a gargle for toothache; a decoction of the plant has been used for hernia, measles, nausea, stomachache, heartburn, rectal prolapse, vomiting, colds, cough, insomia, ptomaine poisoning while the same decoction has been used externally for ulcers, inflammations and swellings; an infusion of the seeds and leaves has been used for urinary tract infection. In the East Indies the seeds have been prepared as an eyewash to prevent blindness in smallpox victims.
An infusion has been used for minor digestive problems, loss of appetite, colic, griping, flatulence, amenorrhea, asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, diabetes, inflammations, nausea (cool tea), to increase libido, to stimulate the heart, to reduce cholesterol (taken before meals), and body odor (cloth soaked in tea used as wash or compress). (Also see: Coriander Water which has been used for colic). 2 tsp of crushed seeds in 1 cup of boiled water with a bit of black pepper, steeped for 20 minutes, has been used to reduce fever.
Usually combined with other harsher herbs to reduce griping.
Has been used externally for hemorrhoids and arthritic/rheumatic joints (warm pack).
The oil has been used to treat urinary tract restrictions and inflammations.
A handful of the fresh leaves has been steeped in 2 cups of hot water to use as a mouthwash for bad breath.
Was once used as an antidote to the effects of Scammony, Lobelia, Mayapple, Senna, and Belladonna; effectiveness is unknown. Other historical uses include: coughs, chest pains, bladder problems, leprosy, rash, headache and childbirth complications.
An ingredient of Carmelite Water.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 20 to 60
SEEDS, CRUSHED = 1 g (1/4 tsp) taken 3 times daily
SEEDS, POWDERED = 1 to 2 g (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
INFUSION = 2 tsp crushed seeds in 1 cup of boiling water; steep 20 minutes; strain before drinking; taken 1 cup over the course of the day.
FLUID EXTRACT = 5 to 15 drops in water
TINCTURE = 10 to 20 drops after meals
CORIANDER WATER = Place a handful of crushed seeds into a quart of water; let stand; add a quarter lb. of sugar; when sugar is melted and the taste of the seeds well taken up by the water, then strain and drink.

Coriander is used as part of a mosquito deterrent diet for dogs (Juliette de Baiiracli Levy/The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat).

Seeds are best if crushed or ground just before use. The leaves don't dry well but can be frozen.
Part of the 'bitter herbs' of Jewish Passover.
The leaves are used in salads and as a condiment while the roots are powdered and used as a condiment with meat by the Native Americans of New Mexico and Arizona.
An ingredient of curry powder.
The seed oil is used commercially to flavor hard candy, fruits, sausages, meats, baked goods, cheese, pickles, condiments, gin, and vermouth.
The seeds are used as flavoring in the making of alcoholic beverages such as gin and some liqueurs.
Both seeds and leaves are used as flavoring and seasoning; this is especially noted in cuisines of the Mideast, southeast Asia, and Latin America.
The young leaves (cilantro) are used in meat dishes, salads, sauces, and soups and are famous in Mexican, Chinese, and East Indian cuisines.
In Ethiopia the leaves are added to bread, sauces and tea.
Has also been used to flavor pates, fish, poultry, game, lamb, pork, vegetables, cakes, cookies, gingerbread, chutneys, and sauces.
In some parts of the world one or two crushed seeds are used to flavor coffee.
In Algeria Coridander is still addded to salt and pepper to act as as preservative. It was also used to preserve meat.
Seeds are used whole or ground as a seasoning in curries, pickling, sweets, and baked goods. Roots are also used to make curries. When making gingerbread or fruitbread add 1/2 tsp of ground Coriander seed to the recipe.
The root is popular in Thai cooking as well as powdered by Southwest Indians for seasoning. It is also pounded in a mortar (often with garlic) for marinades and sauces; also cooked and eaten like a vegetable.
Flowers are used for a hint of flavor and for garnish.
EAST INDIAN SPICE MIX: 1 tbsp whole cumin seed, 1 tbsp whole cloves, 2 tbsp whole coriander seed, 2 tbsp whole peppercorns, 1 tsp powdered cinnamon, 2 whole cardamom pods. Combine all ingredients, then dry roast in a heavy skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. When a strong spice smells develops, remove from heat, cool slightly and grind into a powder. Store in an airtight container with 2 bay leaves (these will add their fragrance to the mix, but see BAY for cautions concerning ingestion of dried bay leaves).
CHUTNEY: 2 lbs sliced apples, 1 lb chopped onion, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 chopped green pepper, 1 chopped red pepper, 3¾ cups red wine vinegar, 2-2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tbsp whole coriander seed, 6 peppercorns, 6 allspice berries, 1 tbsp salt, 2 oz bruised ginger root, 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, 2 tbsp chopped mint (optional). Place apples, onions, garlic, and peppers in a saucepan; add vinegar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (until ingredients are soft). Combine coriander, peppercorns, allspice, and ginger in a muslin bag. Add brown sugar and bag to the pan. Stir in sugar until it is melted then simmer until thick (up to 1 hour). Stir in coriander leaves and mint, then spoon into hot sterile jars. Seal jars. Makes 2 lbs.
SEAFOOD MARINADE: Combine 1/2 tsp of ground Coriander seeds, 2 ground allspice berries, 1 tsp olive oil, and the juice of 1 lemon; marinate the seafood for 30 minutes, then cook.

An infusion has been used as a perfumed lotion.
The powdered seeds have been rubbed under the arms as a deodorant, or an infusion made and used as a compress.

The seeds are used in potpourri.

Repels aphids and carrot fly. Good bee plant.

Warms, relaxes, deodorizes, soothes.
SCENTED WATER: 1 oz of crushed coriander seed to 5 oz of vodka (rubbing alcohol can also be used but be sure to label it as poison). Allow this mixture to set in a capped jar for 3 to 4 weeks, then strain and store.
QUICK WATER: Make a strong infusion, then add 1 tbsp of vegetable glycerine (shelf life 3 days).

Atrracts bees and other pollinators. In some parts of the world Coriander honey is a delicacy.

The seed oil is used in perfumery. Is also involved in the manufacture of synthetic perfumes, soaps and deodorants.
Is used to flavor liqueurs like Izzara, Chartreuse, Benedictine, and Ratafia.
The seeds/seed oil are used to flavor tobacco in some parts of the world.
Was an ingredient of the old Carmelite Toilet Water.
Egyptians once added the the juice of the plant to wine to increase intoxication.
In the Middle Ages, Coriander was used to make a love potion.
Said to be the traditional center of Jawbreaker candies.
The Chinese associate coriander with immortality.
Once believed to protect the Gardener and the Gardener's family when grown in the garden.
In Earth religions it is considered an herb of protection; bunches are hung in the house to bring peace and security. Also considered an herb of immortality and is used in the Greate Rite of Earth ritual. Other uses are in ritual to obtain peace, as a ritual drink, and the seed used as incense in ritual.

Anise. Conversely, do NOT plant near fennel.

Concealed merit.

aka Culantro, Fitweed, Perennial Coriander
(Eryngium foetidum syn E. antihystericum)

Member of the celery family. The leaves and roots are used like coriander.

PROPAGATE By SEED in spring; by ROOT CUTTINGS in late winter.
NEEDS Grown as a crop in damp, heavy soil in sun or shade.
PART USED Leaves, Root
HARVEST Leaves before flowering; roots in 2nd year of growth in the autumn (used fresh for cooking; fresh or dried for infusions and decoctions)
RELATED SPECIES BUTTON SNAKEROOT (E. aquaticum): Has been used in the past for problems of the kidneys and sex organs.
FIELD ERYNGO (E. campestre): Has been used as a substitute for E. maritimum for urinary tract infections, skin problems, and whooping cough. Leaves and blossoms are considered a mild diuretic; the roots considered expectorant and antispasmodic.
RATTLESNAKE MASTER (E. yuccifolium): Used the same as Button Snakeroot.
SEA HOLLY (E. maritimum): Was once believed to be an aphrodisiac; lozenges called 'eryngoes' were once sold for this purpose. Part used is the roots which have been employed as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant. Has been used to treat cystitis, urethritis, excess urine (as produced in diabetes), prostate problems, and renal colic. Growing needs are a well-drained sandy or stony soil in full sun; sow seed in autumn or stratify for 4 weeks before a spring sowing. The roots are harvested in autumn and used fresh or dried for powders, decoctions, and flavorings.
Eryngium planum: A plant of eastern Europe once used to treat whooping cough.


Aromatic, febrifuge, antispasmodic, digestive aid.
Has been used in the Folk Medicine of the Caribbean as a cure-all, but notably for epilepsy, high blood pressure, fevers, fits, and chills in children.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
INFUSION = 1 level tsp ground root per 1 cup of boiling water; steep until cool.
LIQUID EXTRACT = 1/2 tsp (2 g) daily.
TINCTURE = 20 grams (5 tsp) of ground root in 80 g (3 oz) 80% proof vodka, steeped in a closed jar for 10 days to 2 weeks, shaking daily; dose is 50 to 60 drops divided into 3 doses per day; taken in water.

An important ingredient of Latin American and southeast Asian cuisine, namely in soups, curries, and rice and fish dishes. The flavor is similar but stronger than True Coriander.
Has been used to flavor jellies and toffees.
The root is sometimes made into a conserve.

©2001 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH