Health benefits of Culantro

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Culantro Quick Facts
Name: Culantro
Scientific Name: Eryngium foetidum
Origin Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Panama, Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil and from Cuba to Trinidad
Shapes Egg-shaped schizocarp, up to 1.5 mm × 0.75 mm, densely tuberculate
Taste Bitter, soapy flavor similar to cilantro, but stronger
Health benefits Eliminate Bad Breath, Lowers Glucose, Asthma, Pain Relief, Prevents Neurological inflammation, Detoxification
Culantro scientifically known as Eryngium foetidum is a member Apiaceae ⁄ Umbelliferae (Carrot family), which includes carrots, celery, parsley, and parsnip. The plant is native to continental Tropical America and the West Indies. Although widely used in dishes throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Far East, culantro is relatively unknown in the United States and many other parts of the world and is often mistaken and misnamed for its close relative cilantro or coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.). It has a similar aroma and flavor to cilantro, but they are not the same plant. It has little long, serrated leaves with a throne in the circumference.

Few of the common names of the plant are False coriander, Fit weed,  Long coriander, Long-leaved coriander,  Mexican coriander,  Puerto Rican coriander,  Saw tooth coriander, Shadow-beni, Spiny coriander, Spirit weed, Stinkweed, Wild coriander, cilantro, Chardon Benit Shadon beni, Cilantro Cimarron, Saw-leaf Herb, Spirit weed Saw tooth Herb, cilantro, bhandhania, shado beni, black benny and Chardon étoile fétide. The genus name “Eryngium” is derived from “eryngion,” the Greek name of the sea holly (Eryngium maritimum). The species epithet “foetidum” is Latin for a bad smell. The leaves produce an odor that has been described like that of a squashed bedbug.

The plant is reportedly rich in calcium, iron, carotene, and riboflavin and its harvested leaves are widely used as a food flavoring and seasoning herb for meat and many other foods. Its medicinal value includes its use as a tea for flu, diabetes, constipation, and fevers. One of its most popular uses is in chutneys as an appetite stimulant. The name fitweed is derived from its supposedly anti-convulsant property.

Plant Description

Culantro is an erect, slender, perennial, glabrous, evergreen, branched herb that grows about 20-80 cm tall. The plant is found growing in waste places, cultivated areas, along roadsides, meadows, plantations, forest edges, Open rocky places and lowland areas. Generally it grows in a wide variety of soils and it does best in moist well drained sandy loams high in organic matter particularly under full light. The plant has long, branched, fusiform taproot. Stem is grooved, elongating before flowering and repeatedly dichasially branched at the top into various spreading branches.


The plant forms two types of leaves: Leaf of basal rosette is 10-16 centimeters long, 3-4 centimeters wide, narrow, with rounded tips, tapered base, and toothed margins, while leaves on the stalks are smaller and tougher. The leaf margin is serrated, each tooth of the margin containing a small yellow spine.

Flower & Fruit

Creamy white flowers are arranged in a reduced umbel inflorescence that is cylindrical with a dome-shaped top (1.2 cm long, 0.5 cm wide). The calyx is green while the corolla is creamy white in color. Fertile flower are followed by egg-shaped schizocarp, up to 1.5 mm × 0.75 mm, densely tuberculate, splitting into 2 semi-globose mericarps with indistinct ribs.


The origin of sawtooth coriander is not known, but it is native to Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Panama, Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil and from Cuba to Trinidad. It has been introduced into Florida and the Old World tropics where it has naturalized in many places. It was introduced into South-East Asia by the Chinese, as a substitute for coriander; it is known in Indo-China, Peninsular Malaysia, in Java and in Sumatra. It is also cultivated in Central and South America and occasionally elsewhere, e.g. in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

Culantro vs. Cilantro

Culantro is a botanical cousin of cilantro, but they look nothing alike. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is sometimes called Chinese parsley or Mexican parsley, and its seeds (coriander) are sometimes called Mexican coriander. While culantro has long leaves that grow in rosettes, cilantro has thin scallop-shaped leaves that grow on the tips of long, very thin stems. Additionally, cilantro is an annual plant, not a biennial like culantro.

Though the flavor and aroma of the two herbs are comparable, you’ll notice that culantro is significantly more pungent than cilantro. Some people say it’s even 10 times stronger, which is apparent in how the two are used in food recipes. While culantro can handle the high heat of cooking, cilantro is a very delicate herb, which is why it’s often applied to food after cooking.


Health benefits of Culantro

Listed below are few of the popular benefits of consuming Culantro

1. Eliminate Bad Breath

On a general note, Veggies like parsley have been known to act as a remedy for bad breath. Since parsley and culantro belong to the same family of Apiaceae, Culantro can also be said to solve issues regarding bad breath. The fresh scent from shado Beni and high chlorophyll content suggest that it has some deodorizing effect. To use Culantro for bad breath, chew on fresh leaves after each course meal to eliminate the effect of Sulphur compounds which are the actual causes of bad breath.

2. Lowers Glucose

It has been revealed from research that leaves and stems from Culantro help lower blood sugar levels in animals. It can lower body Glucose because of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) present as a nutritional supplement. Riboflavin encourages a healthy Liver function which can release insulin hormone more effectively. Since a healthy liver is equal to a balanced body sugar level, it is only relevant to take a dietary supplement of shado beni with a meal. You can chop Culantro’s leaves coarsely, grind stems finely and then add this to salads, salsas, and smoothies to lower your sugar and reduce diabetic risk.

3. Asthma

Asthma is a common disease related with lungs. It intensely affects people living in industrialized areas where there is a prevalence of heavy metals, dust, and toxic gas emissions. However, recent researchers have found that plants are excellent sources of medicine that can help cure asthmatic conditions and Culantro is one of such herbal plants.

4. Pain Relief

Culantro is generally known to reduce inflammations around the body parts such as bone joints, muscle contractions and a host of other body pains. To efficiently use culantro as a pain reliever; cut out the leaves and boil them, apply the hot culantro water on your body parts or drink it.

5. Prevents Neurological inflammation

Regular dosage of Culantro on one’s diet helps retracts diseases associated with the brain. Neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s can be prevented as a result of its natural constituents that can reduce inflammations in the brain cells.

6. Detoxification

Regular intake of Culantro helps reduce the occurrence of toxins in the human body mainly due to the presence of vitamin B2 that aids liver function in the body. The liver performs the function of eliminating some toxic wastes from the body system.

Ethno medicinal uses for E. Foetidum

Plant Part Method of Preparation Use









Infusion Fever, flu, diabetes, hypertension, constipation diuretic, anti-convulsant
Bath Colds, heat, muscular pain
Decoction or Tincture sometime with Lemon Diarrhea, stomach ache, cold, Fever, flu, gas, nausea, malaria, leishmaniasis
Decoctions or Infusions Snake bite, aire, abdominal pain, postpartum abdominal pain, fever, digestive ailments, vaginal infections
Decoction Hypertension, colds, fevers
Concoction mixed with Milk Stomach ache, asthma
Tincture rub Rheumatism, emmenagogue
Leaves, roots and fruits are crushed and taken Indigestion
Juice Anti convulsant
Plaster Abscess, boils
Unspecified Geniturinary disturbances






Whole plant

Unspecified Colds, flu, diarrhea, childbirth complications, infertility, menstrual pain, unspecified female complications, poisoning, gastritis, fever, snakebites
Boiled or toasted and massaged Eye Disease
Boiled with castor oil Biliousness, constipation, fits yellow fever
Decoctions Fever, flu, chills, gout, condiment, ease delivery, VD
Juice Remove parasites, infection, itching



Aerial Parts

Decoctions Earache, chest pains, fevers hypertension, fits, convulsions gastrointestinal problems
Topical application of Paste Headache
Unspecified Abortion induction, sexual dysfunction, diarrhea, fever, headaches


Infusion Vermifuge
Infusion in rum or wine tincture Worm infections
Topical application of paste Headache
Seeds Topical application of paste Headaches, cure madness


Unspecified Aphrodisiac, emmenogogue, abortifacient, convulsions, fits
Drink or Massage Febrifuge, sudorific


Traditional uses and benefits of Culantro

  • Root decoction is taken as a sudorific, diuretic, febrifuge, abortifacient, stomachic and stimulant.
  • Juice or a decoction of the leaves is used as a stimulant, as a laxative and as a remedy for colds and fever.
  • Decoction of the whole plant is said to lower blood pressure, to be a potent emmenogogue and abortifacient, and is also used as an aphrodisiac.
  • Decoction of the whole plant is used as an anti-malarial and for the treatment of hemorrhages.
  • Plant is boiled and the water used for a herbal bath or as a medication for chicken pox and measles.
  • The leaves are febrifuge, laxative.
  • An infusion is used to treat chills, grippe, fevers, head colds, as a children’s purgative.
  • Decoction of the crushed leaves is used as a treatment for children’s leprosy and children’s convulsions.
  • An infusion is used to treat hydropsy and stomach pains.
  • Leaf shows antimicrobial activity.
  • It is reportedly used in traditional medicine for burns, earache, fevers, hypertension, constipation, fits, asthma, stomachache, worms, infertility complications, snake bites and also in malaria.
  • Tea prepared from the leaves is used to treat fever, flu, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.
  • It is also thought to promote menstrual bleeding.
  • Plant is used in traditional medicines for fevers and chills, vomiting, diarrhea and in Jamaica for colds and convulsions in children.
  • Leaves and roots are boiled and the water drunk for pneumonia, flu, diabetes, constipation, and malaria fever.
  • Root can be eaten raw for scorpion stings and in India the root is reportedly used to alleviate stomach pains.
  • Leaves themselves can be eaten in the form of chutney as an appetite stimulant.
  • Decoction of whole plants used as antimalarial.
  • In Mizoram, India, decoction of fruits used in dysentery.
  • Leaf juice applied to forehead for fever.
  • Ethnic communities in the Kodagu district of Karnatak use the leaf decoction against gastrointestinal disorders and the leaf paste for wound healing.
  • It can also help with asthma, it lowers the blood pressure, and it helps with epileptic seizures.
  • It has a calming effect and it soothes away the seizures.
  • It also soothes away the headaches when you drink its tea.
  • Leaves and roots are boiled and the water drunk for treating pneumonia, flu, diabetes, constipation, and malaria fever.
  • Crushed leaves are placed in the ear to treat pain, and are used for the local treatment of arthritic processes.
  • Plant is useful for female reproductive problems such as infertility, childbirth complications, menstrual pains, ease of delivery, postpartum abdominal pains, and vaginal infections and as an emmenogogue.
  • Decoction of the whole plant is used to ease delivery, but is contraindicated for pregnancy because it is reported to provoke uterine contraction in Brazil.

Culinary uses

  • Fresh leaves are used as a flavoring in food, e.g. in soups, curries, stews, rice and fish dishes.
  • Tender young leaves are eaten raw or cooked, as a vegetable.
  • Aromatic herb is used to increase taste in various curries.
  • It is also used to add in chutneys, torka etc. for its attractive flavor and taste.
  • Leaves can be steamed and served with rice.
  • Root is used as a flavoring in soups.
  • Seed is used as a flavoring.
  • Leaves are used to season meat and other foods in Caribbean, Latin American and Asian cuisines.
  • In Latin America, the leaves are often added to salsas, a spicy, tomato-based sauce that is eaten with tortilla chips.)
  • Cilantro leaves can be used to prepare a variety salsas, gravies, barbecued foods and even appetizing drinks.
  • Fresh leaves can be used in salad.


Braised Chicken Stew Recipe


  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken (with skin on, thighs, legs, breast, and wings, cut-up)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1/2 cup sofrito
  • 1 packet ​sazón seasoning (or 1 tablespoon annatto/achiote oil)
  • 1/4 cup olives (pimento-stuffed Spanish Manzanilla, pitted)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional: 1 culantro leaf (or recao leaf)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce (canned, seasoned with peppers and onions)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 large potato (cut into bite-sized cubes)
  • Garish: cilantro (chopped)
  • Garnish: parsley (chopped)


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Season the chicken pieces with the adobo seasoning.
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Make sure you have a lid available to cover it tightly.
  4. Add the chicken pieces and brown them on each side, about 5 minutes per side.
  5. Add the sofrito, the sazón packet, Spanish olives, cumin, bay leaf, culantro, Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and potato cubes. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the sauce.
  6. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chicken stew for 35 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and the cilantro leaf.
  8. Garnish the chicken pieces with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley and serve the sauce over your favorite rice recipe.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup


For Beef Broth

For Noodles

For Garnish

  • 3 scallions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
  • 10 Cilantro sprigs (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 10 sprigs basil
  • 10 sprigs fresh culantro
  • 1 fresh red or green chile pepper (thinly sliced)
  • Garnish: lime or lemon quarters
  • Garnish: fish sauce
  • Garnish: hoisin sauce
  • Garnish: hot chile sauce


  1. Broil onion and ginger until they look burned. Using the back of a cleaver, smash the ginger and set aside.
  2. Wash beef bones, place in a large soup pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and immediately pour off this “first boiling” water and discard. Add another 12 cups of fresh water and again bring to a boil. Skim off foam.
  3. Add the broiled onion and ginger, star anise, salt, and sugar. Over medium-low heat, simmer for 30 minutes. Slice raw beef into thin strips and set aside.
  4. Remove bones from broth and strain out vegetables and seasonings.
  5. Soak noodles in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain. In a soup pot bring two quarts fresh water to a boil. Add drained noodles and cook seven minutes at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally until noodles are tender.
  6. Rinse noodles under cold running water and set aside.
  7. Return the broth to a boil over high heat.
  8. Divide noodles among 4 to 6 large individual serving bowls. Arrange thinly sliced raw beef, scallions, onion, and cilantro on top. Pour boiling hot broth to cover noodles and serve immediately. The boiling broth will cook the thin slices of beef.
  9. Pho is always accompanied by bean sprouts, basil leaves, cilantro, and chile pepper. Serve with lime and lemon quarters, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and hot chile sauce.




  1. Combine first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a blender or food processor, mince culantro leaves, garlic and hot pepper in some of the warm water.
  3. Gradually add this mixture to the dry ingredients while vigorously mixing with a fork.
  4. Continue to add remaining warm water and mixing until a smooth batter is formed. (Tip: you can use the water to “rinse” the emptied processor or blender to ensure you get as much seasoning in the mixture).
  5. Cover with damp paper towels or kitchen towels and let rest for one to two hours, until more than doubled in size.
  6. Heat oil in large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
  7. Use half tablespoon or tablespoon (depending on what size you want your pholourie balls to be) and scoop batter into the pot. You can use another spoon to help shape batter and get it into the pot more easily. Before scooping, dip spoons into a cup of water or oil to get batter into the pot more easily.
  8. Move balls back and forth to ensure even frying. Lower heat if, balls are getting brown too quickly.
  9. When they feel light and are a light golden brown, remove from heat and place on paper towels. Break one to ensure it cooks through.
  10. Repeat process for the remaining batter. Serve warm with favourite chutney.

Culantro Pesto


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup packed fresh culantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Combine the garlic, salt, pepper to taste, and pine nuts in a food processor.
  2. Add the oil and culantro and process until smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and pulse to incorporate.
  4. Store in an airtight container until ready to use, up to 1 week in the refrigerator or 4 months in the freezer.

Other facts

  • In Java, the plant is fed to cattle as fodder.
  • Fragrance emitted from the leaves is somewhat like crushed bedbug.
  • Flavor of Culantro is diminished after it flowers; so leaves are typically harvested before the plant develops its flower stems.
  • An essential oil can be distilled from the seed.






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