Coriandrum sativumFamily: Apiaceae
CTFA name: Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Fruit Oil
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Photo © Steven Foster
Coriander is an aromatic annual that grows to 3 feet with white to mauve blooms during the summer followed by pale brown fruit (seeds).1 Native to Mediterranean Europe and western Asia,2 coriander is currently all over the world. The roots, leaves, seeds, and oil of coriander are all used.1
History and Cultural Significance
Traditionally, the fruit (seeds) and leaves have been used as an aromatic carminative (reducing gas in the stomach and intestines), stomachic (stimulating digestion), and antispasmodic (treating spasms of smooth muscle such as the stomach).3 Coriander was used by Hippocrates (ca. 460 – 370 BCE) and other Greek physicians and was later introduced to Britain by the Romans. It has been widely used around the world, from Africa to northern Europe, where the seeds were mixed with bread. In the East, coriander has been used as an ingredient in curry.3 In traditional Chinese medicine, coriander was used to treat stomachache and nausea.4
Coriander has been approved by the German Commission E for internal use in dyspeptic complaints (disturbed digestion) and loss of appetite.5 It is also used as a treatment for complaints in the upper abdomen such as a feeling of distension (uncomfortable fullness), flatulence (excessive gas), and mild cramps.2 The fruits are still used to relieve gas and in laxative preparations to prevent griping (bowel or stomach spasms).4 Coriander oil is primarily employed as a flavoring agent in pharmaceutical preparations.4
Coriander is used as an aromatic herb in many foods from stews to cakes and breads.6 The young leaves are commonly used as a garnish in cooking; they are known as Chinese parsley in Asian cuisine and cilantro in Spanish cooking.4 The seed is sometimes used in products that help with digestion and intestinal gas. The seeds and oil are frequently found as flavor ingredients in many food products such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, puddings, meat and meat products, condiments, and relishes.4
In cosmetics, the oil can be found as a fragrance component in soaps, creams, lotions, and perfumes.4 The oil is also used in flavoring tobacco.4
Currently, there are no internal or external clinical studies available on the use of Coriandrum sativum.
Up-to-date information on the world trade in coriander is difficult to obtain, but current supply seems to be adequate to meet demand. As of 1995, India had approximately 69,000 acres (28,000 hectares) under coriander cultivation, and most of that stayed in India for domestic consumption.7 Pakistan also retained most of their production for domestic use with approximately 19,800 acres (8,000 hectares) under cultivation. Information is not available for production in Eastern Europe, but it is believed to be substantial. Canada cultivated approximately 12,000 acres (5,000 hectares) of coriander in 1995. The Canadian market was responsible for approximately 65% of all coriander imports in 1994 and the US imports about 2,500 metric tons of coriander per year.
1 Bown D. The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited; 2001.
2 Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
3 Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Volume 1. New York: Dover Publications, Inc; 1971.
4 Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons; 1996.
5 Blumenthal M, Hall T, Goldberg A, Kunz T, Dinda K, Brinckmann J, et al, editors. Klein S, Rister RS, translators. The Complete German Commission E Monographs—Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998.
6 Davidson A. The Oxford Companion to Food. New York: Oxford Press Inc.; 1999.
7 Coriander. Alberta Government: Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development. Available at: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex121?opendocument. Accessed March 23, 2005.