Health Bytes

Summarizing Suzy on Cilantro…

In her recent column, Suzy Cohen (“America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist”) described several medicinal attributes of one of my favorite herbs, cilantro. In my rehab from mercury toxicity in the past, cilantro extract was part of the chelation armamentarium; I also really enjoy fresh cilantro as an herb in many “southern” (Central and South American) dishes. So I was appreciative of Suzy’s attention, surprised at the range of cilantro’s potential benefits, and re-enthused for enjoying more of its culinary offerings. I offer some highlights of Suzy’s column (SuzyCohen.com).

Detoxification   Cilantro is rich in chlorophyll, carotenoids, quercetin and other antioxidants, and a gentle chelator of heavy metals. That’s a powerhouse for detoxification! Antioxidants are best known as “housekeepers” that help clear the body of many free radicals and toxins.  Chelators dissolve and transport heavy metals that have accumulated in the body and help them get escorted out of the body via the urine. 

Bone Building    Cilantro is an excellent source of Vitamin K, well-known for its role in building bone mass. It also is a generous source of minerals that are used to build strong bones: magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. Caution: because of the high Vitamin K content, people on anticoagulant therapy are sometimes advised to avoid cilantro.

Reducing seizure activity   As an adjunct to seizure controlling medications, cilantro demonstrates support for the function of potassium channels and help reduce aberrant firing in the brain.  That can educe the severity or frequency of seizures.

These uses, supported by studies, are based on cilantro eaten as food, not on cilantro extracts or concentrates. Cilantro offers gentle support through natural physiologic mechanisms for healthier function. 

My curiosity was piqued by a few friends and family with a strong distaste for cilantro. I suspected there was something “wrong” with them! It turns out that there is a genetic SNP/variation in their “smell genes” that makes the aroma of cilantro quite offensive to some people.  It’s reportedly a rare SNP.  But if you have a strong reaction to cilantro, don’t fight your genetics!  There’s another herb out there for your uniqueness.