Spring is finally here in Winnipeg. The lilacs are starting to bloom. My flowering mystery shrub is in full bloom. It’s been here since we moved in and not being the greatest gardener I really never have figured out what it is. Can anyone tell me?
It’s time to start planting! I love the idea of growing my own food. As I say I’m not the greatest gardener and my house doesn’t have a very good configuration to allow for a sunny vegetable garden, but I do my best with container gardening on my deck. One thing I have taken to is growing herbs. A staple of my herb garden is coriander. It’s very easy to grow and is very fragrant. It adds so much flavour to any avocado based sauce or salsa – my favourite uses. I also love to add it to smoothies. This herb, also known as cilantro, has many amazing health benefits.
With my recent stint in a production of Kismet it doesn’t surprise me to find that the origins are Middle Eastern, although we now more often associate it with Mexican and Asian cuisine. My character Lalume would most likely have consumed it as it's mentioned as an aphrodisiac in The Tales of the Arabian Nights.
It’s full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals and essential oils that provide an array of benefits. Though the benefits are for everyone, and every singer is after optimal health, there are some benefits that may be of particular interest to singers, such as curbing anxiety, curing mouth ulcers, an internal deodorant (let’s face it we sweat like crazy when performing under hot lights in heavy costumes), digestive aid and so much more. So here is a list of:
8 Health Benefits of Coriander
1. Treating Anxiety
Anxiety is a problem many performers have to deal with, for some it can be quite debilitating. Cilantro has been used in Iranian folk medicine to relieve anxiety and insomnia. There has been some clinical evidence that coriander can be as effective as diazepam at reducing anxiety.
2. Mouth Ulcers
Though not a serious problem (most ulcers with heal in 7 to 10 days) it can be quite a nuisance. I once had a very painful one that actually caused me to cancel a much-anticipated audition. An infusion of coriander seeds is an Ayurvedic remedy that can bring considerable relief and reduce inflammation. Boil one teaspoon of coridander seeds in one cup water, cool, strain and swish around in your mouth 3 to 4 times a day. Or alternately you can make a paste by grinding coriander leaves and applying to the ulcer with a Q-tip.
3. Digestive Aid
No one feels like singing if you have digestive discomfort. Cilantro leaves offer relief from indigestion problems as well as feelings of nausea. They enable the digestive tract to produce digestive enzymes as well as more digestive juices, thus preventing flatulence and settling queasy stomach. This herb also stimulates digestion through peristaltic action. Its antioxidant properties help in promoting healthy liver function. Cilantro leaves are a good source of roughage and fibre which help in relieving gastrointestinal problems.
4. Internal Deodorant
We are vocal athletes and as athletes, when we exert ourselves in our “sport” we will sweat. Cilantro acts as a natural internal deodorant as it contains a large amount of chlorophyllin. Scientific studies have shown that chlorophyllin molecules are able to attach and bind to many odour-causing compounds such as sulfides and bacteria. This process occurs in the gastrointestinal tract where many odour compounds originate. These odour causing substances are then prevented from being excreted through the skin and mouth. Eventually, the chlorophyllin along with the odor compounds are removed through the bowel.
5. Menstrual Disorders
I think every female singer has cursed having to sing during her period. Coriander seeds from cilantro can actually help to support healthy menstrual function by helping regulate proper endocrine gland function, and contain linoleic acid, ascorbic acid, steric acid and palmitic acid which support proper secretion of the hormones that regulate menstrual cycles. In addition, coriander can help reduce the bloating, cramps, and pain during the cycle. Soak a tsp of seeds in a cup of water overnight and consume the infusion the next morning.
We want to be singing to the best of our ability as long as possible. The anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties of cilantro can aid us in this. The antioxidant properties of cilantro can be attributed to the presence of an antioxidant called quercetin among others. These antioxidants protect your cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, thus delaying the ageing process and preventing chronic diseases later on in life. The antioxidant activity in cilantro provides protection against the most degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
7. Anti-bacterial and Antifungal
Avoiding illness is a full time job for a singer. Cilantro contains an anti-bacteria compound called dodecenal which can kill salmonella bacteria and prevent salmonella poisoning. Its anti-bacterial properties help to improve oral health. The anti-microbial substances present in it help prevent and cure small pox (ok, maybe not a problem for most of us, but scientifically proven) as well as relive diarrhea if caused by fungal or microbial infections.
8. Heavy Metal Detox
Cilantro is often claimed to be a chelating agent important in detox, removing heavy metals from the body. There has been some scientific evidence that it can move lead out of the body, but other heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium are not if they are already deposited. However, the research shows that consuming cilantro regularly or at the time of ingestion of these heavy metals prevents their build up by binding with the metals in the digestive system and excreting through the bowels.
This weekend I’ll be starting my herb containers. Why don’t you give it a try? Even a sun window will do the job! Grab a pack of seeds, a pot, some soil and plant your own powerhouse herb!
This article is for information only and not to replace the advice of your doctor. The Fit Singer does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, consult your physician.