In this series of articles I explore each plant from a multidimensional perspective: medicinal, aromatic, and psycho-spiritual. I aim to bridge scientific information with traditional lore and metaphysical musing, ultimately sharing my own experience with the plant spirit and what I’ve intuited about how to use its essence.
We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
Ever reaching toward the heavens, angelic Coriander gives us seeds of hope so that we work to advocate for change – by cleansing negativity, joining hands in unity and evolving as a community.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), is an annual herb in the apiaceae/carrot family and is also known as Cilantro. That’s right, Coriander and Cilantro are the same plant. While the terms tend to be used interchangeably, Coriander specifically refers to the dried fruit (seed) of the plant and Cilantro denotes the fresh parsley-like leaves. Additionally, this plant is sometimes called Chinese Parsley or Mexican Parsley. To make matters more confusing, Chinese Parsley is also a name for the lesser-used Chinese medicinal herb, Salt Heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum), and Mexican Parsley is sometimes a name for Verdolaga, also known as Purslane (Portulaca oleracea). The good news is that these other plants look nothing like our friend Coriander… a.k.a. Cilantro.
All parts of the Coriander plant are edible, and the fresh leaves and the dried seeds have rich history of culinary and medicinal use. It is one of the world’s oldest spices – seeds were found in a Neolithic archeological dig dated around 7000 BCE. Coriander was also found in Tutankhamen’s tomb and mentioned in the Bible. (Aggarwal/Yost, 2011)
THE COMMON KIND OF CORIANDER IS A VERY STRIKING HERB, IT HAS A ROUND STALK FULL OF BRANCHES, TWO FEET LONG. THE LEAVES ARE ALMOST LIKE THE LEAVES OF THE PARSLEY, BUT LATER ON BECOME MORE JAGGED, ALMOST LIKE THE LEAVES OF FUMITORIE, BUT A GREAT DEAL SMALLER AND TENDERER. THE FLOWERS ARE WHITE AND GROW IN ROUND TASSELS LIKE DILL. (GRIEVE, 1931)
Despite, or perhaps because of its broad culinary use, people tend to either love or hate Coriander. Believe it or not, there’s even an I Hate Cilantro website. The folks that set this up went to the trouble to register www.ihatecoriander.com as well, so if you type that in it will automatically redirect you to www.ihatecilantro.com. That is some dedication to hating a plant! Why does it evoke such strong feelings? Interestingly, there may be genetic factors at play, at least for the 4-14% of the population that think it tastes like soap. These folks have receptors genetically predispositioned to smelling/tasting aldehydes, which are high in the chemistry of the leaves (Green, 2014; Compound Interest, 2014). But scientists are still not sure why it triggers such a passionate response, and I have to wonder what these emotional reactions says about the spirit of the plant. I’ll explore that further on this article.
Coriander has been used as medicine for at least 3,500 years and it was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus – an ancient Egyptian medical text chock full of herbal knowledge. Given the archeological findings mentioned above, I would venture to guess that it’s been used medicinally for as long as it has been used by humans. It is well known by the major herbalist traditions:
- In Ayurvedic medicine, coriander seeds are a household remedy for digestive tract or urinary system complaints. (Lad/Frawley, 1986). It clears flatulence, gripping and bloating, and is used for urinary tract infections, burning urethra and cystitis. The leaf helps the safe excretion of heavy metals and other environmental toxins from the body. (Haidairi, 2016)
- In Traditional Chinese Medicine, “coriander is considered pungent and warm, and is associated with the Lung and Stomach meridians. Coriander seeds are used to treat conditions such as stomachaches, measles, nausea and hernias, and also have tonic properties”. (acupuncturetoday.com, 2016)
- Western herbalists use the seeds medicinally to expel wind in the digestive system, ease the spasm pain of colic and ease diarrhoea, especially in children. It also increases digestive juices and stimulates the appetite. (Hoffman, 1990)
The essential oil (different than the flower essence – learn about that here) is made by hydrodistillation of the coriander fruit and is high in monoterpenes and monoterpenols, and particularly high in a component called linalol. This results in a relaxing yet uplifting effect, calming the nerves and acting as an antidepressant (Sudha et al, 2011; Cioanca et al, 2014).
- “Combining a warm and woody serenity with peppery stimulation, the oil both calms and uplifts, and is indicated, therefore, for states of nervous depression that are accompanied by worry and anxious overthinking.” (Mojay, 1997)
- “Coriander oil is known to be refreshing and uplifting for the mind. It can help reduce mental fatigue—especially when blended with other uplifting oils such as Orange and Rosemary. Coriander has been used for headaches, muscle tension and exhaustion. Coriander is warming and great for reducing pain from rheumatism, arthritis and muscle spasms.” (aromatics.com, 2016)
Folklore & Magick
Used for love, health, healing, protection and even exorcism, Coriander is thought to dispel negative energies, banish demons, and protect gardeners and all in their households. It has also been included in love and lust potions as well as worn for headache relief.
- Coriander leaf added to food creates a convivial social atmosphere (Harrison, 2011)
- Seeds bring peace within one’s home and may be used ritually to promote peace among peoples who don’t get along. (Beyerl, 1998)
- If pregnant women eat coriander, their future children will be ingenious. (Cunningham, 1985)
Plant Spirit Experience
When I make a flower essence, I start by cultivating a relationship with the plant. This roughly consists of:
- Noticing it while out on a walk, while visiting a nursery, or even just driving by it – I get the sensation that certain plants call out to me (in the spring this can be overwhelming!).
- Finding a nearby wild specimen of if possible, and/or purchasing the plant or seeds and planting it. In both cases I begin to talk to it by saying hello every time I pass by.
- When the plant is flowering and has a certain “aura” about it, I approach it with reverence and ask if it wants to be made into medicine. If this is an herb I may have already done this by harvesting leaves during their growth cycle. I listen with my heart to see what the plant conveys, and in almost all cases I intuit an enthusiast “yes”.
- I perform a simple ceremony, calling the directions and giving the plant an offering (tobacco, cornmeal, a bead, or a piece of my hair).
- I collect the best flowers into a small bowl filled with pure water and let it sit in the sun for a few hours near the plant.
- Meanwhile, I sit and write all my impressions – the appearance of the plant, what the plant “signature” evokes, what I might already know about it, what emotions I’ve noticed since I started the ceremony, memories and thoughts that surface, and then that may morph into automatic writing. I ask the plant several times what it wants me to know about it and finally, how people should use the flower essence. I keep writing whatever streams into my consciousness until the process feels complete.
I generally have not done any plant research before making the essence, so I can be as clear of a “channel” as possible. It’s fun to see how close my observations map to herbal, aromatic, culinary, medical, energetic and folk information that has been published. I almost always align with some or all of the published energetic aspects, so that makes me confident that my “receivings” are trustworthy.
The Coriander I have befriended is the descendent of one I planted in my garden last year. It dropped its seeds at the end of the season and this year there are two new volunteer plants, about 5 feet tall and in glorious bloom during the hot summer. These self-seeded plants are so much bigger and stronger than the original transplant and that seems to mean something energetically.
As I sit with Coriander, its long flowering stalks bounce in the wind and the pungent scent wafts toward me. I breathe it in deeply and ponder the strong reaction people have to this plant, either loving or hating it. I get the sense that there’s something important about this dichotomy that I should pay attention to. Coriander seems to bridge multiple polarities, even on the same stem when comparing the lower parts to the upper parts.
The energy of the plant in the stalk and green leaves is strong and forceful when young, but as it matures up the stalk to the flower and ultimately fruit, there is a sense of maturity and refinement happening right before my eyes. It evokes the passion of youth mellowing into acceptance and wisdom with maturity and age. I see the flowers bridging the gap between these two poles, acting as agents of transmutation, evolution and ascension.
As I further connect my awareness to Coriander under the blue sky and bright midsummer sunlight, I feel a strong sense of peace and a positive assurance that things will get better. A knowing that we, collectively, can get better in this life and continue to evolve in future generations and incarnations. I look at the broad lower leaves graduating to ever finer upper leaves until delicate white flowers emerge, and the evolutionary ascension theme is reinforced. The finer leaves have much more branching – they are reaching out and connecting our spirits to each other. As the fruits become seeds they collect our hopes and dreams that will one day be delivered to our future selves. Coriander is showing me it’s full lifecycle in all it’s stages (leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds) right here on this one plant.
I had recently been overwhelmed by intense social justice and political issues saturating the media, but now I feel the peace of detachment and the wisdom to know that crisis will pass.
At the same time, I do get the sense that we all must stand up, advocate for change, learn from it, learn about ourselves, and become better, personally and collectively. Coriander tells me we are all in this together and we can’t lose hope. It wants to help us lighten our load, release karmic baggage and pain, and purge the toxic negativity from our systems. If we reach out to one another and join hands in PEACE, we plant the seeds of hope and change for future generations and our future selves. The time is now.
Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.JOHN LENNON
Flower Essence Benefits
Combining the information I receive directly from the plant with relevant research, I develop a clear picture for indications and usage of the flower essence.
Coriander is a key essence for the times we live in: When information comes to light that shocks us out of our comfort zone and we begin seeing the world in a different way, it can be very disheartening. The negative media cycle does not let us rest and we can easily lose faith in our fellow humanity.
Coriander essence helps us to clear that negativity and hang on to hope. We are urged to not be overwhelmed by our emotions, particularly when it comes to social justice, world events and our faith. It increases our emotional intelligence and prompts us to take action to advocate for peace. Coriander helps us attune to group dynamics and collective consciousness so we can remember we are all connected. Finally, it reminds us of a bigger evolutionary picture, showing us that our genetic and spiritual descendents will be stronger better than we are and will carry forward our dreams.
Coriander is indicated for imbalances signified by:
- Hopelessness, defeatism, depression – helps let go of toxic negativity
- Existential pain and grief for humanity – helps have trust, hope, faith in humanity/the future
- Addiction to drama, highly reactive – helps detach from extreme reactions and be an observer
- Disconnection to our human/earth family and soul group – helps feel the bigger connection
- Oversaturation of negative media affecting the nervous system – helps to observe without extreme reaction, let pass through and not internalize
These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.
Please share and enjoy the flower essence profile for Coriander!
- Simoons, F. (1991). Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
- Grieve, M. (1931). A Modern Herbal. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/corian99.html.
- Mojay, G. (1997). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
- Lad, V., Frawley, D. (1986) The Yoga of Herbs. Santa Fe, NM: Lotus Press.
- Haidairi, K. (2016). Coriander The Wealthy One. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/CorianderTheWealthy.
- acupuncturetoday.com (2016). Coriander (hu sui). Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/herbcentral/coriander.php
- Hoffman, David (1990). Holistic Herbal. Hammersmith, London: Thorsons
- Sudha, K., Deepak, G., Sushant, K., Vipul, P., Nilofer, N., (2011). Study of antidepressant like effect of coriandrum sativum and Involvement of monaminonergic and gabanergic system. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda & Pharmacy, 2(1), Jan-Feb 2011 267-270.
- Cioanca, O., Hritcu, L., Mihasan, M., Trifan, A., Hancianu, M. (2014). Inhalation of coriander volatile oil increased anxiolytic-antidepressant-like behaviors and decreased oxidative status in beta-amyloid (1-42) rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Physiol Behav. 2014 May 28;131:68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.021. Epub 2014 Apr 18.
- aromatics.com (2016). Coriander Essential Oil. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from https://www.aromatics.com/products/essential-oils/coriander.
- Doucleff, M. (2012). Love To Hate Cilantro? It’s In Your Genes And Maybe, In Your Head. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/09/14/161057954/love-to-hate-cilantro-its-in-your-genes-and-maybe-in-your-head.
- Compound Interest (2014). Why Can Coriander Taste Soapy? The Chemistry of Coriander. Retreived on July 1, 2016 from http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/02/25/why-can-coriander-taste-soapy-the-chemistry-of-coriander/
- Green, H. (2015). SciShow: Why does Cilantro Taste Like Soap. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ymoPRWxZl8.
- Beyeri, P. (1998). A Compendium of Herbal Magick. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing.
- Harrison, K. (2011). The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook. San Francisco, CA: Wieser Books.
- Cunningham, S. (1985). Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul, MN: Llelwellyn
When you have hope, and you have peace, you can handle anything.PAUL HENDERSON