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Cilantro: A Natural Cleanser & Memory Booster 

                                               by Jennifer Good

   This week we’ll be giving our attention to the herb cilantro, the plant that gives us the coriander seed. Most popular in Mexican and Asian cuisines, cilantro is native to the eastern Mediterranean. European cooks have been said to use both the seeds and the leaves well into medieval times. While this parsley style herb may not appear to be much, it does pack some considerable health benefits into its sprigs.

    With its distinctly strong flavoring, cilantro is an excellent herb to use to season lower-calorie and reduced-fat dishes. Just five calories can be found in a serving size of nine sprigs. What’s more remarkable about this herb, however, is that in that five calorie serving you’ll find 1,350 IU of vitamin A and 62 mcg of Vitamin K. That means that a small serving will provide 27% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A and 52% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. 1

    Herbalists have also understood for centuries that fresh cilantro may be helpful in assisting your body to rid itself of unwanted elements. Studies have shown that levels of mercury, lead, and aluminum in the urine increase significantly after consuming large amounts of cilantro. It seems that cilantro changes the electric charge on intracellular deposits of heavy metals to a neutral state, which relaxes their tight bond to body tissue, freeing them up to be flushed from the body, including the brain (which is important if you want to avoid dementia later in life).

    The problem with heavy metals is that they accumulate in the body, causing numerous health problems that can seriously impact literally every major organ in the body. Studies show that heavy metals in the body may be implicated in everything from Alzheimer's to cardiovascular disease, from behavioral problems to kidney dysfunction, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, and even paralysis.

    Not just due to its heavy metal detoxing effect, but Cilantro itself may help improve your memory too. In a study published in the “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture,” research suggests that there may be cognitive benefits from ingesting cilantro. In the study, young and old rats consumed ground cilantro leaves added to their food in 5, 10 or 15 percent concentrations, measured by weight. The rats on the cilantro-fed diet learned and performed a maze running task better than the control rats with cilantro-free diets. The interesting part is that the more cilantro they gave the rats, the better the effect. They even gave the rats amnesia drugs and found that the rats who ate the highest doses of cilantro appeared almost unaffected by the amnesia-inducing drugs—the more cilantro consumed, the less they were affected by the drugs. The researchers concluded that cilantro protects memory by suppressing the enzyme cholinesterase that breaks down acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain. This is interesting considering that deficiency in this acetylcholine neurotransmitter is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.1

    Herbs such as cilantro also contain phytochemicals. These herbs are known for their role in their prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. The National Cancer Institute has determined that cilantro is among the group of herbs with anti-cancer properties.3

    The best thing about cilantro, however, may just be how easy it is to add to your diet. It’s a perfect freshly chopped and added to soups, salsas, chutneys, guacamole or any Mexican style dish, It also makes an excellent seasoning for everyday favorites such as scrambled eggs, veggie tacos and salads. However, if you are looking for a detoxing effect from heavy metals or a way to boost memory, it is best to use a more concentrated form of cilantro such as a tincture. For instance, the rats who showed a memory effect were consuming 10-15% of their diet in cilantro leaves -- not many dishes are made with just cilantro! In this case, supplementation may be ideal. 

   (Also here is a url with 2 videos, one by Dr. Janet Wahls, M.D. who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis,  and the other video by Bob Johnson explaining how myelin sheath, nerve coverings - associated with autoimmune diseases, can repair.  Dr. Wahls comments on the use of "brain foods" for restoration of myelin sheath growth to halt progression of MS symptoms.  This article on cilantro and the function of removing toxic metals hints at similar content.)

    Another way to get your daily dose of cilantro, though, is cilantro pesto, using a recipe Jon Barron got from Dr. David Williams. Process one cup packed fresh cilantro and six tablespoons of olive oil in a blender until the cilantro is chopped. Add one clove garlic; a half-cup almonds, cashews, or other nuts, and two tablespoons lemon juice. Blend to a lumpy paste. (Add a little hot water if necessary.) Eat a couple of teaspoons a day. Be careful; it tastes incredible and is addictive. (Note: the pesto freezes nicely, so you can make several batches at once.)

 


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