Culantro benefits and side effects

Know in one minute about Culantro benefits

  • Culantro is an evergreen herb having a strong flavor.
  • Mainly used for garnishing, marinating, flavoring, and seasoning.
  • Leaves of this plant have a pungent aroma like coriander.
  • Grows in well-drained soil with partial sunlight
  • Easy to propagate by seeds and stem cutting.
  • Culantro helps to improve fertility and fight against cancer, bacteria, fungus, and worms.
  • Treat diabetes, inflammation, pain, and gastric problems.

Introduction

Culantro (Eryngium foetidum Linn.) is an annual strong-scented herb with perennial nature, belonging to the family Apiaceae. Is widely used for culinary, spice, and medicinal purposes (1). Culantro benefits and other importance are as follows.

Common name

Puerto Rican coriander, Black Benny, Sawtooth coriander, Mexican coriander, Spiny coriander, Spirit weed, Chadon Beni, Bhandhania. , Shado beni (Trinidad), Andu kola (Sri Lanka), Fit weed (Guyana), Japanese long coriander(Japan), Walangan (Indonesia), Langer koriander  (German), Ketumbar java (Malay), Pak chi farang (Thai), Ngo gai(Vietnamese, recao  (Spanish), Broad dhaniya, False coriander, Long coriander, Long-leaved coriander, Stinkweed, Wild coriander, Java coriander. 

Geographical distribution

It is native to Central and South America but now widespread throughout tropical Africa and Asia (2)

Botanical description

Culantro is an evergreen branched herb. The appearance is more like lettuce with leaves around the central rosette with a fast-growing stalk that will bloom and set seeds in the spring. 

  • Height

It reaches a height of about 20-80 cms. The plant is upright and compact in structure.

  • Stems

Solitary and highly branched.

  • Leaves

The leaves form a rosette structure. they are generally dark green in color. The margins are serrated or toothed.

  • Flower

Flowers are pale green with a spiny stalk.

  • Fruit

The fruit is globose to ovoid and is covered with rounded protrusions.

  • Roots

The roots are fleshy, long, branched, and from a stout taproot

  • Aroma

It has coriander like aroma but is a stronger intense flavor. It can be used as substitute coriander. 

The nutritional component of culantro

Culantro contains similar content of nutrients as coriander and may be recommended in its place for consumption. It contains a significant amount of calcium, iron, carotene, riboflavin, proteins, and vitamins A, B, and C content (3, 4).

CompoundNutritional Value
Humidity83.33 %
Protein2.63 %
Reducing Sugar8.26%
Fiber31.50 %
Fat0.73 %
Carbohydrates6.5 %
Ash3.0 %
Phosphorus0.06 %
Iron0.02 %
Vitamin A10,460 IU/100 g
Vitamin  B260 mg %
Vitamin B30.5 mg %
Ascorbic acid32.33 mg/100 g

Medicinal use of Culantro

The leaves have been used for the treatment of various diseases such as fevers, chills, vomiting, burns, hypertension, and headache.

It is also used to treat epilepsy asthma, arthritis, worms, infertility complications, snake bites, diarrhea, and malaria (5).  

Leaves and roots are used in tea or chutneys to stimulate appetite, improve digestion, combat colic, soothe stomach pains, and eliminate gas.

How to grow and take care of culantro

To grow or maintain culantro plants following requirements are needed.

1. Light

The plant grows well under partial sunlight.

2. Soil

This plant needs fertile, moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter in a warm location. To obtain the best growth the pH of the soil should be 6.0-7.5.

3. Fertilizer

Fertilizing the plant with nitrogenous fertilizer solution at regular intervals is ideal for the best growth. Harvest the leaves from the plant as required.

4. Water 

This plant requires water in a moderate amount when the top few inches of soil are dry.

5. Pruning

Prune or cut the flower stalks are necessary to maintain and boost leaf production. Also, it will not end its life cycle.

6. Mulch

To protect the root from cold, this plant needs mulching around the base of the plant. This process keeps the moisture near the surface of the plant and to discourages root rot.

Propagation

You can grow culantro both indoors and outdoors from seeds as well as by stem cutting. However, it is best to grow the herb indoors because the seed is so small and might require a high temperature for the best growth. 

1. Growing season

 This plant requires a warm season, you can grow at any time of the year. For cold climates, plant it in the spring or summer.

2. Propagation by seeds

Place seed in pre-moistened and high-temperature soil (26°C or 80°F).  Keep moist, and they will germinate in about 14–28 days.

About six to eight weeks after germination, you can transplant the germinated seed into your garden. Once they germinate, maintain a spacing of 8 to 12cm for a good set of roots to form and get established. Once they germinate, you can transplant them outside or leave them indoors.

3. Propagation by stem cutting 

Culantro herb can be easily propagated using stem cuttings with at least some internodes. Place them in a container with water or soil after a few days to weeks the roots are growing out.

4. How to harvest Culantro 

Generally, it is used fresh, cutting individual leaves (or row) as needed after 10 weeks of transplant. 

Culantro benefits

1. Antimicrobial properties of culantro leaves

Eryngial, saponins, flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, and tannins obtained from culantro leaves shows high antimicrobial activity.

These compounds fight against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and a fungus Candida albicans (6).

2. Culantro leaves treat inflammation 

Culantro benefits are mainly due to its leaf contains phytosterol known as stigmasterol which helps to treat acute (short term) and chronic (long term) inflammation (7).

Moreover, culantro leaves contain lutein, β-carotenes, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, and caffeic acid compounds. These compounds are also beneficial to reduce intestinal inflammation and the risk of cancer associated with inflammation (8).

3. Gastroprotective properties of culantro leaves

Culantro leaf is a rich source of metabolites that are effective to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria grow in the stomach and cause pain and may lead to ulcers. Thus culantro shows antimicrobial activity to fight Helicobacter pylori infections (9).

4. Culantro leaves treat cancer

Culantro leaf is an excellent source of the bioactive compound that helps to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells (10).

5. Antioxidant properties of culantro leaves

Culantro leaves contain natural antioxidants such as carotenoids, phenolics, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and anthroquinones. These compounds help to remove harmful radicals and protect the body against various diseases (11), (12).

6. Culantro leaves treat worms

Eryngial found in culantro leaves help in killing skin-penetrating parasitic worms that cause internal infections in the intestines (13).

7. Antidiabetic properties of culantro leaves 

Culantro leaves contain flavonoids and saponins that help to reduce blood glucose levels. It inhibits intestinal α-amylase and α-glucosidase (digestive enzymes) thus regulates diabetes (14).

8. Treat infertility by culantro leaves

Culantro benefits are due to the leaves that are useful to treat menstrual pain, infertility, problems related to childbirth like placenta removal, and shorten labor (15).

9. Analgesic properties

Culantro leaves are a good source of alkaloids, triterpenoids, and flavonoids which are beneficial to reduce pain by blocking the sensation of pain by sensory neurons (16).

10. Relieve from flatulence or gas

Culantro leaves contain flavonoids, essential oils, coumarins, and rosmarinic acid derivatives which are effective to treat acidity and prevent the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract (17).

11. The safe dose of culantro leaves 

Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of fresh culantro leaves by “Food Consumption Data of Thailand” is 0.48 g/kg body weight/day. Moreover, approximately less than 10.12 g (fresh leaves) and 0.58 g (freeze-dried leaf) did not show adverse effects in human weight 60 kg. 

The side effect of culantro leaves 

A research study suggested that high consumption of culantro does not generate any adverse effect on human health (18). But intake of this leaf at a high dose (35 times of human consumption) in long-duration may harm kidney function (19).

Furthermore, fresh leaves of culantro contain nitrate, phytate, oxalate, and saponin within safe health limits. Thus partial boiling of leaves is recommended for further reduction of these anti-nutrients (20).

Uses in recipes

Besides Culantro benefits in health, it is also popular and commonly used in the Caribbean, Latin American as well as in Asian cuisine. Its tender leaves can be consumed in fresh or dry or stir fry or boiled form. To obtain good flavor the leaves should be cooked or boiled for at least a few minutes. This aromatic herb can be used to flavor in salsas, chutneys, sauces, rice, stews, and soups, and mixed with meat stuffing.

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