Did you know that Coriander seed and Cilantro leaf come from the same plant (Coriandrum sativum)? If you look in the produce section at the market you will find leafy Cilantro, popular in Mexican cuisine, but the spice aisle offers dried Coriander seed. Both parts of the plant produce essential oils but they are quite different from each other in chemical composition, scent, and use.
The essential oil of Coriander is produced from the ripe seeds and has a sweet, spicy scent. The seed has been used in the Ayurvedic health system for many thousands of years, traditionally for digestive complaints such as parasitic worms and mouth ulcers. Today, the essential oil is said to be insecticidal so it may help with parasites, but it also relieves indigestion, gas, and loss of appetite. The oil is also said to be relaxing and antidepressant.
Cilantro essential oil maintains the unpleasant odor of the leafy plant. It has been touted to clear heavy metals from the body, but Essential Oil Safety expert, Robert Tisserand, says, “There are no essential oils that help chelate heavy metals, including cilantro. Cilantro the plant does chelate heavy metals, but the essential oil does not.” So, for that use, stick to the plant. In fact, the essential oil from the leaf is harder to find and more expensive, so if you want to use Coriandrum sativum you may do best to use the seed oil. You can add it to a carrier oil for topical use, or diffuse it for emotional support.