Hu Sui (Coriander) in Chinese Medicine

English: Coriander

Chinese: 胡荽

Parts used: The whole herb, fresh or dried

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Lung Stomach

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum

Other names: Cilantro, Chinese parsley

Use of Hu Sui (coriander) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Harvest, wash and use fresh or dry it

Dosage: 9-15g if dried, 15-30g if using fresh

Main actions according to TCM*: Promotes sweating. Removes rashes. Allows the release of toxicity from the surface. Detoxifies and eases pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Hu Sui may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Measles Rashes Phlegm Diabetes

Key TCM concepts behind Hu Sui's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hu Sui belongs to the 'Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Warm/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Hu Sui is Warm in nature. This means that Hu Sui tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Hu Sui can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Hu Sui also tastes Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like Hu Sui tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Hu Sui is thought to target the Lung and the Stomach. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Hu Sui

Coriandrum sativum (coriander) has antihyperglycaemic, insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity that could confirm its usefulness as a treatment of diabetes.1

Aqueous extract of Coriandrum sativum seed has anxiolytic effect and may have potential sedative and muscle relaxant effects. It may thus be useful to relieve anxiety and help with insomnia.2


1. Gray, A., & Flatt, P. (1999). Insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity of the traditional anti-diabetic plant Coriandrum sativum (coriander). British Journal of Nutrition, 81(3), 203-209. doi:10.1017/S0007114599000392

2. M Emamghoreishi, M Khasaki, MF Aazam (2005). Coriandrum sativum: evaluation of its anxiolytic effect in the elevated plus-maze. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 96(3), 365-370.

Use of Hu Sui as food

Hu Sui is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Pho or Moroccan tajines.