Coriander seed is a digestive aid and diuretic. Although the leaves are cooling the seeds are slightly warming. Its bitterness reduces pitta while its pungency improves digestion. Ysha Oakes reports "It is an effective digestive agent for Pitta conditions in which most spices are contraindicated or used with caution (the seed)."
The ancient Romans used both the leaves and seeds to preserve meats. Today, coriander still adds a pleasant aroma to meats and is popular in meat dishes from India to Morocco. Coriander kills meat-spoiling bacteria and fungi and contains an antioxidant that prevents animal fats from turning rancid. These properties are used topically by Ayurvedic practitioners to prevent infection in wounds.
Coriander seed is drying. A cold infusion of the seeds flushes heat out of the urinary system. The diuretic and digestive qualities are useful in detoxifying the blood. As a digestive, expectorant, and anti-allergenic, it is an especially useful spice in Spring allergies. Coriander seed is common in anti-allergy formulas.
In Chinese medicine Coriander subdues Qi. In Greek medicine it was used as an aphrodisiac. A powder of the seeds is used for worms in children.
Similar in properties is cumin, which is an antidote for hot, pungent food (tomatoes,chilis, etc). Cumin, coriander, and fennel are related plants with similar properties and the basis for a famous Ayurvedic tea.
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