Ayurvedic Spice Cabinet: Coriander (or Cilantro) for Immunity, Digestion, & Clear Skin
Coriander is a potent, refreshing Ayurvedic spice and herb that is packed with immunity-boosting nutrients. Part of the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) plant family, all parts of this aromatic herb are edible, from the seeds to the leaves. While the seeds are typically referred to as coriander, the leaves of this plant are also known as cilantro. In seed form, coriander serves as a flavorful spice; in leaf form, cilantro is a versatile garnish whose fresh taste will instantly lift a dish, whether that be soup, salad, pasta or curry. Packed with antioxidants, coriander’s many benefits include boosted immunity, healthier digestion and natural detoxification. In Ayurvedic tradition, coriander is also used to bring balance to those with high Pitta levels.
Unfortunately, despite its impressive health benefits, cilantro is not an herb that is enjoyed by everyone. You probably know someone who reacts strongly to its “soapy” taste—or perhaps you yourself have experienced this. As dietician Brenna Wallace tells mindbodygreen, “"This is because of a genetic variation that causes their olfactory genes to sense the 'soapy-smelling' aldehydes in cilantro.”
For those who enjoy the taste of coriander, or who otherwise want to incorporate it into their diet, here is a breakdown of the benefits of this revered Ayurvedic spice.
Benefits of Coriander
Rich in antioxidants, coriander is lauded for its immunity-boosting effects. As a result, coriander can fight inflammation and protect the body from disease. In fact, one study showed that, in addition to reducing inflammation, the antioxidants in coriander seeds slow the growth of lung, prostate, breast and colon cancer cells.
Promotes heart health
Several studies have shown that coriander may lower high blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, coriander acts as a diuretic, aiding the body in flushing excess sodium and water and helping people reduce their overall sodium intake, which also boosts heart health.
Coriander has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic tradition as a treatment for gastrointestinal problems and discomfort. Research backs up this ancient insight: one study demonstrated that coriander effectively treats abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort, while another showed that it can serve as an appetite stimulant. Whether you’re experiencing digestive discomfort or simply want to strengthen your digestive system, coriander is a potent and lauded digestive salve.
Coriander contains linalool, which helps to detoxify the liver, and high levels of vitamin K, which strengthens the skin, lowers blood sugar levels, balances hormones and reduces PMS symptoms. As a result, coriander serves as an effective treatment for acne. Many people apply the leaf juice of coriander to the skin in order to reduce acne, oiliness and hyperpigmentation.
Combats free radical damage
Thanks to its high antioxidant levels, coriander also aids in the prevention of free radical damage, boosting one’s overall immunity and health. In addition, as studies have shown, this protection also counters the effects of aging such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Ready to reap the benefits of this rejuvenating herb? One easy, healthful way to start is by trying out Divya Alter’s recipe for sauteed broccoli rabe and beets, which she shared with us in 2019. It combines coriander with other immunity-boosting spices like turmeric, cumin and ginger for a delicious, simple and energizing meal.