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Reputation as ancient medicine preceded coriander's use as a spice

Also known as cilantro (Spanish word for coriander), coriander is found to have been used at least 7,000 years ago. Its seeds were cultivated in Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire for medicinal use as a digestive aid and as relief for flatulence. Its use in this regard is also found throughout India and China.

The parts of the plant used include the leaves and the dried ripe fruits, which are known as coriander seeds. Russia, India, Morocco, and Holland are the main producers of coriander seeds.
Bild von Leo Michels

Brought to North America in 1670, it was one of the first spices cultivated by our colonists. Bearing a strong likeness to the Italian flat-leaf parsley, the leaves of coriander (cilantro) are today used extensively in Mexican cuisine as well as in traditional dishes of Latin America, India, and China.

As both leaves and seeds of the plant are used for seasoning, coriander is considered an herb and a spice. Often used as a topping or blended into dishes made from grains or meats, cilantro can also add an effective flavoring to beets and lentils. The leaves and seed both contain antioxidants.

Health giving properties of Coriander Seeds/Oils

Besides being an effective carminative and digestive aid, coriander is also known as an anti-diabetic plant in parts of Europe whereas India takes advantage of its anti-inflammatory properties. The seeds are used as an ingredient in traditional Indian medicine to make a liquid diuretic.

Today's science appears to confirm many of its historical uses. Possible effects for coriander's antimicrobial properties, anti-anxiety action, and lowering of cholesterol are still being explored.

Indian Journal of Pharmacology, Anti-anxiety activity of Coriandrum sativum assessed using different experimental anxiety models "Interest in alternative medicine and plant-derived medications that affect the “mind” is growing. Anxiety, a state of excessive fear, is characterized by motor tension, sympathetic hyperactivity, apprehension and vigilance syndromes. Benzodiazepines are the major class of compounds used in anxiety and they have remained the most commonly prescribed treatment for anxiety, despite the important unwanted side effects that they produce such as sedation, muscle relaxation, ataxia, amnesia, ethanol and barbiturate potentiation and tolerance."