Taste: bitter, pungent
Post-digestive effect: pungent
Dosh: balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Actions: alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, carminative, stimulant
Coriander is a herb that I love and use almost daily! The other common name is Cilantro or Chinese Parsley. I usually chop up the fresh herb and add it to my meals, together with a squeeze of lemon and some Himalayan salt. Its the best thing I have found to aid in digestion and is generally known to be a good home remedy for Pitta disorders, especially in the digestive and urinary systems.
Coriander has a cooling action which is often why you see it in a lot of Asian cooking when there are chilli and hot spices in the dish, such as in stirfrys and curries etc. In Ayurveda it is important that all the six tastes are present for a balanced meal – and I’ll post more on that subject later.
Coriander, cumin and fennel seeds have very similar properties and are often used together for digestive disorders. I have used these seeds to brew up a tea when I am suffering from my ulcerative colitis symptoms such as bloating, pain, inflammation and irregular bowel movements etc. Its really easy to make and you could even take it with you in a thermos to sip on during the day if your symptoms persist. Follow this link for the Digestive Tea recipe. This tea could also be used for those suffering from urinary tract infections (UTIs) and cystitis.
I have not used the juice of the fresh herb myself, but if taken internally is good for allergies, hayfever and skin rashes. The juice can also be used externally for itching and inflammation. This has similar cooling effects to the gel in aloe vera.
I have found coriander to be in other digestive tonics I’ve come across – there is a herbal tincture I take when I need help and coriander is one of the ingredients in that. A tincture is a more concentrated form of the herb and the results will be quicker than say eating the fresh herb or brewing up a tea. It is not a taste for everyone, but when it comes to food as medicine, I really don’t mind what it tastes like myself. It is said that the taste you don’t like is often the one you need the most anyway!
Coriander is not the easiest herb to grow where I am and I have at times attempted it in pots, but to date have not been that successful. Just as well I’m near some good farmers markets where I can get some fresh organic produce when I need it.
I highly recommend you get some of this fresh herb, the seeds and powder into your kitchen and add it to your cooking – its definitely a must for supporting good digestive function.
Reference: some information in this post has been taken and adapted from the book by Dr David Frawley and Dr Vasant Lad, The Yoga of Herbs – An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine (1986, 2001) (114, 199)