FWD 2 Expanded Commission E: Coriander seed

Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E

Coriander seed

Latin Name: Coriandrum sativum
Pharmacopeial Name: Coriandri fructus
Other Names: coriander fruit


Coriander is an annual herb native to Mediterranean Europe and western Asia, naturalized in North America, now extensively cultivated in many temperate countries (BHP, 1996; Leung and Foster, 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). The material of commerce comes mostly from Morocco, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, India, and the former U.S.S.R. (BHP, 1996; Kapoor, 1990; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Coriander is also cultivated on a small scale in some German states (Lange and Schippmann, 1997). Coriander was used in traditional Greek medicine by Hippocrates (ca. 460377 B.C.E.) and other Greek physicians. Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (ca. 2379 C.E.) first used the genus name Coriandrum, derived from koros, in reference to the fetid smell of the leaves. It was later introduced to Great Britain by the Romans (Grieve, 1979). It was first introduced into Chinese medicine around 600 C.E. (Bown, 1995). Galenical preparations of coriander seed have similar uses as a carminative, digestive, or stomachic in traditional Chinese, Indian, and Greco-European medicines. In Ayurvedic medicine it is usually combined with caraway and cardamom seeds, among others, while in European medicine it is usually combined with caraway, fennel, and anise (Kapoor, 1990; Leung and Foster, 1996; Nadkarni, 1976; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

Very few, if any, modern clinical studies have been conducted on coriander. The approved modern therapeutic applications for coriander seed are supportable based on its long history of use in well established systems of traditional medicine, pharmacological studies in animals, nutrient composition and dietary value studies, and phytochemical investigations.

In Germany, coriander is used as a medicinal tea and a component of carminative and laxative remedies, in alcoholic distillate and drops dosage forms, often combined with anise, caraway, or fennel (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). In the United States, coriander is used as a carminative or digestive component of compounds in confection, infusion, syrup, and tincture dosage forms. It is sometimes used in laxative compound preparations (e.g., Confectio Sennae) in order to counteract or modify their harsh stomach-upsetting effects (Duke, 1997; Grieve, 1979; Leung and Foster, 1996; NF V, 1926).

German pharmacopeial grade coriander seed must contain not less than 0.6% (v/w) volatile oil (DAB 1997). The Austrian Pharmacopoeia requirement is not less than 0.5% ( AB, 1981; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).


Coriander consists of the ripe, dried, spherical fruit of Coriandrum sativum L. var. vulgare (synonym var. macrocarpum) Alefeld and C. sativum L. var. microcarpum de Candolle [Fam. Apiaceae], as well as its preparations in effective dosage. The preparation contains at least 0.5% (v/w) essential oil.

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Coriander contains about 1% volatile oil, of which 55-74% is linalool; 20% are monoterpene hydrocarbons (a- and b-pinene and limonene), anethole, and camphor; up to 26% oleic, petroselinic, and linolenic fatty acids; flavonoid glycosides (quercetin, isoquercitrin, and rutin); chlorogenic and caffeic acids; tannins; sugars (approx. 20%); proteins (11-17%); coumarins; mucilage; starch (1%) (Budavari, 1996; Hänsel et al., 1992; Leung and Foster, 1996; List and Hörhammer, 1973; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

The Commission E did not report pharmacological actions for coriander fruit. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia reported its actions as carminative and stimulant (BHP, 1996). The Merck Index reported its therapeutic categories as carminative and aromatic (Budavari, 1996). It acts as a stomachic, spasmolytic, and carminative due to its essential oil content (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Coriander has been reported to have strong lipolytic activity (Leung and Foster, 1996).


The Commission E approved the internal use of coriander seed for dyspeptic complaints and loss of appetite. The German Standard License for infusion of coriander fruit recommends it as supportive treatment for complaints of the upper abdomen, such as a feeling of distension, flatulence, and mild cramp-like gastrointestinal upsets (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Annex II of the French advice to manufacturers of plant based medications, or avis aux fabricants, of 1990 allows coriander fruit the same indications for use as aniseed and fennel fruits (Bruneton, 1995).


None known.

Side Effects

None known.

Use During Pregnancy and Lactation

No restrictions known.

Interactions with Other Drugs

None known.

Dosage and Administration

Unless otherwise prescribed: 3 g per day of crushed or powdered fruit or dry extract.

Infusion: 3 g in 150 ml water.

Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 3 ml.

Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 15 ml.


Bown, D. 1995. Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. New York: DK Publishing, Inc. 267.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP). 1996. Exeter, U.K.: British Herbal Medicine Association.

British Pharmacopoeia (BP). 1993. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Bruneton, J. 1995. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Paris: Lavoisier Publishing.

Budavari, S. (ed.). 1996. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals, 12th ed. Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merck & Co, Inc.

Deutsches Arzneibuch (DAB 1997). 1997. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

Duke, J.A. 1997. The Green Pharmacy. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press. 276-277.

Grieve, M. 1979. A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Hänsel, R., K. Keller, H. Rimpler, G. Schneider (eds.). 1992. Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5th ed. Vol. 4. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. 996.

Kapoor, L.D. 1990. Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 137.

Lange, D. and U. Schippmann. 1997. Trade Survey of Medicinal Plants in GermanyA Contribution to International Plant Species Conservation. Bonn: Bundesamt für Naturschutz. 3233.

Leung, A.Y. and S. Foster. 1996. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

List, P.H. and L. Hörhammer (eds.). 1973. Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, Vol. 1. New York: Springer Verlag. 300.

Nadkarni, K.M. 1976. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. 381-383.

National Formulary, 5th ed. (NF V). 1926. Washington, D.C.: American Pharmaceutical Association. 13.

Österreichisches Arzneibuch, Vols. 12, 1st suppl. (ÖAB). 19811983. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Staatsdruckerei.

Wichtl, M. and N.G. Bisset (eds.). 1994. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers.

Additional Resources

Chithra, V. and S. Leelamma. 1997. Hypolipidemic effect of coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum): mechanism of action. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 51(2):167-172.

Duke, J. 1997. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 197-199.

Formack, V. and K.H. Kubeczka. 1982. Essential oils analysis by capillary chromatography and carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Karlsen, J. et al. 1971. Studies on the essential oil of the fruits of Coriandrum sativum L. by means of gas liquid chromatography. Studies on terpenes and related compounds. XI. Pharm Weekbl 106(12):293-300.

Kunzemann J. and K. Herrmann. 1977. Isolierung und Identifizierung der Flavon(o1)-0-glykoside in Kummel (Carum carvi L.), Fenchel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), Anis (Pimpinella anisum L.), und Koriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) und von Flavon-C-glykosiden in Anis. I. Gewurzphenole [Isolation and identification of flavon(ol)-O-glycosides in caraway (Carum carvi L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), and coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), and of flavon-C-glycosides in anise. I. Phenolics of spices]. Z Lebensm Unters Forsch 164(3):194-200.

McGuffin, M., C. Hobbs, R. Upton, A. Goldberg. 1997. American Herbal Product Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Mironova, A.N. et al. 1991. [Chemical and biological properties of coriander fatty oil] [In Russian]. Vopr Pitan (1):59-62.

Murphy, E.W., A.C. Marsh, B.W. Willis. 1978. Nutrient content of spices and herbs. J Am Diet Assoc 72(2):174-176.

National Formulary (NF), 16th ed. 1985. Washington, D.C.: American Pharmaceutical Association.

Reus, W.A. 1996. [Birth representation with reference to the magical coriander prescription of Codex Vindobonensis 93, fol. 102r, of the Austrian National Library] [In German]. Gynakol Geburtshilfliche Rundsch 36(2):92-100.

Salzer, U.J. 1977. The analysis of essential oils and extracts (oleoresins) from seasoningsa critical review. CRC Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 9(4):345-373.

Swanston-Flatt, S.K., C. Day, C.J. Bailey, P.R. Flatt. 1990. Traditional plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. Diabetologia 33(8):462-464.

Uma Pradeep, K., P. Geervani, B.O. Eggum. 1993. Common Indian spices: nutrient composition, consumption and contribution to dietary value. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 44(2):137-148.

Watt, J.M. and A.L. Merrill. 1975. Composition of Foods, Raw, Processed, Prepared. Agriculture Handbook No. 8. Washington, D.C.: Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This material was adapted from The Complete German Commission E MonographsTherapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. M. Blumenthal, W.R. Busse, A. Goldberg, J. Gruenwald, T. Hall, C.W. Riggins, R.S. Rister (eds.) S. Klein and R.S. Rister (trans.). 1998. Austin: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications.

1) The Overview section is new information.

2) Description, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions with Other Drugs, and Dosage sections have been drawn from the original work. Additional information has been added in some or all of these sections, as noted with references.

3) The dosage for equivalent preparations (tea infusion, fluidextract, and tincture) have been provided based on the following example:

  • Unless otherwise prescribed: 2 g per day of [powdered, crushed, cut or whole] [plant part]
  • Infusion: 2 g in 150 ml of water
  • Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 2 ml
  • Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10 ml

4) The References and Additional Resources sections are new sections. Additional Resources are not cited in the monograph but are included for research purposes.

This monograph, published by the Commission E in 1994, was modified based on new scientific research. It contains more extensive pharmacological and therapeutic information taken directly from the Commission E.

Excerpt from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs
Copyright 2000 American Botanical Council
Published by Integrative Medicine Communications
Available from the American Botanical Council.