Coriander/Cilantro: The 2017 Herb of the Year

Back in 2017 the herb of the year was labeled as coriander/cilantro. This herb never had shown up in my life as being that helpful so I skipped posting about it. Now it keeps showing up in weird places. It took me some time to understand that cilantro is the name given to the fresh leaves and coriander is the name given to the dried seeds. Together this plant is Coriandrum sativum.

Most of the medicinal actions around this plant come from the use of the seed but the leaves are also used for many similar actions. Greeks have been using this medicine since before Hippocrates time and the actions of this plant all centers around it being antibacterial and a carminative. On traditional Cantonese folk remedy used a decoction of fresh cilantro as a mouth wash for bad breath. I found this particularly interesting because it is rare these days that we decoct fresh plants.

For the rest of the digestive system, coriander has often been added to foods to help relieve various stomach upsets. It can be combined with laxative herbs to reduce griping (pain of the abdominal muscles). But its true function as a digestive aid is to help relieve gas and bloating when added to foods. Wild coriander (Eryngium foetidum) has also been added to beans when they are cooking to help relieve flatulence. Coriander may also be a great option to include with bacterial overgrowth or any infections of the digestive system due to its antiseptic properties.

Coriander, as a very flavorful herb, has been used as a breath freshener and flavoring additive for breads and alcohols. For freshening the breath it is decocted and used as a mouth wash. Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties help kill off many odorous microorganisms. It can also be used similarly as a wash for the underarms. Sometimes the essential oil of coriander is diluted and used as an underarm deodorant.

Some of the more obscure uses of coriander include using it for amenorrhea and asthma due to its muscle relaxant properties. This may also play into its role in the digestive system. It has diuretic properties, can act as an alterative, and gently steeped in a tea with black pepper, it may support relieving a fever. This fever support can also be utilized when cooking with coriander. It tends to balance hot and stimulating foods, bringing a coolness to them. And as a fun final note, Mrs. Grieve’s quickly mentioned that when you take too much coriander it may begin to have narcotic effects, numbing excessive pain.

Have fun and I hope you play around with coriander this month.

Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.

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