Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb originating in the Mediterranean region. The fresh leaves and seeds* are commonly used in cooking in Ayurvedic medicine in India. The herb is used for disorders of the digestive, respiratory and urinary systems.
Anti-anxiety and sedative drugs are commonly used to induce calmness or sleep. Some drugs have a delayed effect of 3-4 weeks, so there is a need for medications with a more rapid onset of action with fewer side effects. An extract of cilantro was prepared using 100 g of dried powdered leaves in 500 ml of water. I n this study, this was heated to 65 degrees C and dried before administration.
The goal was to test the anti-anxiety effects of cilantro in mice using an elevated maze test. The maze had closed and open arms. Rats and mice do not like elevated spaces and have an aversion to open arms in a maze and avoid them normally. They freeze and develop high cortisol levels as a reflection of anxiety. This is a good test for the anti-anxiety effect of a drug. Some mice served as controls, some were given diazepam (Valium), and others were given various doses of cilantro extract. The animals were placed in the maze and observed to see how often they entered the open arms and how much time was spent there. Time spent in open arms is a measure of the anti-anxiety effect of the doses they received.
Mice which received 200 mg/kg of the extract of cilantro spent the most time in the open arms, indicating reduced anxiety. Those which received 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg cilantro showed reduced activity, revealing potential sedative effect. Also, diazepam given to some of the mice resulted in their spending more time in the open arms of the maze, indicating less anxiety.
CONCLUSION: There is a dose-dependent anti-anxiety effect of cilantro extract in mice. Further testing is needed to determine which chemicals in the extract are responsible for this effect.
NOTE: *The seeds of cilantro are commonly called coriander, and the plant commonly called cilantro is also sometimes called coriander. This study does not relate to humans, but most likely cilantro will prove to be anti-anxiety for them as well.