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  • Heather Shannon

Cilantro Cultivation: From Garden to Detox?

Cilantro growing in the garden
Freshly grown cilantro.

Do you find that more and more people in your circle are grappling with health issues, many of which, seem to come out of nowhere? We are being inundated with toxins throughout our life and while a healthy body is equipped with its own detoxification process, toxic overload occurs when the body can not keep up. We must support our body's ability to flush out toxins by getting enough sleep, drinking adequate water, limiting alcohol, sugar, and processed foods, and eating clean and fresh. As we become more conscious of the impact of toxins on our health, natural detoxification methods are gaining popularity. Nature has so much to offer.

Let's examine the Cilantro (Coriandrum Sativum) plant and how it can help us detoxify. In the U.S., this herb's leaves and stalk are labeled as cilantro, while this plant's seeds are called coriander. Both portions of the same plant offer different health benefits and flavor profiles. Today, we will be focusing on cilantro (leaves and stalk).

Coriandrum Sativum plant known as both cilantro and coriandor.
Cilantro (leaves and stems) and Coriander (seeds).

Cilantro has a light, citrusy flavor, is commonly used in culinary dishes, and is often served as a fresh garnish. It is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and is believed to help lower blood sugar, improve brain health, be anti-inflammatory, aid in digestion, and help fight food-borne infections like salmonella. Some studies indicate that cilantro can help our bodies eliminate heavy metals and other toxins. Let's briefly examine heavy metals and toxins, and how cilantro can help remove them from our bodies.

Heavy metals are tiny particles found in things like dirt, water, and air. Toxic heavy metals; cadmium, lead, nickel, chromium, mercury, and metalloids such as arsenic, show up in our foods, household products, and cosmetics. These particles can be harmful and in large amounts, are known to cause cancer, kidney failure, immune and nervous system dysfunction, reproductive damage, and muscular impairments.

Heavy metals and other toxins build up in our bodies
Heavy metals and other toxins build up in our bodies.

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by some molds. Mycotoxins are like tiny, invisible monsters that sometimes hide in our food and air. Mycotoxins directly enter our food supply via crop contamination and indirectly in livestock feed for dairy-producing animals. Airborn mycotoxins are typically found in moisture-damaged buildings. Mycotoxin exposure can present as allergies, fatigue, and brain fog, to dysregulation of the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems.

When a body has reached toxic levels, chelation therapy is commonly used to remove toxins from the body. Chelation is a process where both organic and inorganic substances bind to toxins in the body, making it easier for the body to eliminate them. Think of it like a magnet that attracts and removes harmful substances from your body. Cilantro contains compounds that organically create this chelation process, making it a powerful herb for detoxification and cleansing. Termed the poor man's chelation treatment, evidence has shown that cilantro helps remove heavy metals from the body, particularly reducing the build-up of lead and mercury. When detoxing from heavy metals and mycotoxins, it is important to include binders such as charcoal, chlorella, or bentonite clay to help with the effective elimination of toxins that have been pulled from our tissues.

Fresh cilantro and powdered chlorella
Cilantro and Chlorella are a powerful detox duo.

We often hear about the power of synergy and when cilantro is paired with chlorella, edible, green microalgae, this pair can lower heavy metal toxins in the body by about 80% in as little as 45 days. Cilantro mobilizes toxins out of our cells and chlorella helps bind and extract the toxins out of our body before it can be re-absorbed. Chlorella is readily available at pharmacies and health stores, as a stand-alone product that we can add to our smoothies, and as a pre-combined chlorella-cilantro extract for chelation purposes. Here is one recommended dosage for effective heavy metal detox. A quick internet search will populate many homemade recipes that people swear by. Consult your doctor for advice before taking chlorella as it can minimize some blood thinning prescriptions and may cause allergic reactions in others.

In another study, cilantro proved so effective at pulling neurotoxins from the body that a "form of calcium bentonite clay called Pascalite" was prescribed to bind to and prevent heavy metals from being deposited in the colon before the body could expel it. Dr. Omura recommends having a 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves and stems per day during detox along with 1 to 2 Tbls of Pascalite mixed with water, three times a day between meals. He goes on to warn those who are detoxing that it is good to detox in short cycles rather than all at once so that our body has time to flush the toxins out. We want to create a balance of pulling and eliminating toxins in a way that does not flood our bloodstream and tissues with large amounts of toxins all at once.

Clinical trials of natural remedies are limited but they show promising results. When we grow delicious herbs to enhance our recipes, we are also curating healing miracles. Ingested in the right amounts, cilantro is just one of many herbs that have the power to improve our overall health.

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