Coriander (Hú Suī) in Chinese medicine

Coriander

Chinese: 胡荽

Pinyin: Hú Suī

Parts used: The whole herb, fresh or dried

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum

Other names: Cilantro, Chinese parsley

Use of coriander (Hú Suī) 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 practitionner, 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 coriander may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Measles Rashes Phlegm Diabetes

Common TCM formulas in which coriander are used*:

  • For cough combine coriander with scallions.

Key TCM concepts behind coriander's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), coriander are plants that belong 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 coriander are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that coriander tend 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 coriander can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Coriander also taste Pungent. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like coriander tend 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 coriander are thought to target the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on coriander

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

Sources:

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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2004.06.022

Use of coriander as food

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