Some of our most important drugs were discovered partly by accident. Penicillin was developed after Alexander Fleming found a mold devouring the bacteria he was growing in a petri dish.

A class of valuable blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors (lisinopril, ramipril, etc.) was developed when scientists investigated why victims of the deadly jararaca snake of Brazil died after experiencing very low blood pressure.

Sometimes ordinary people also put unexpected discoveries to good use. Such was the case when Donald Agar found that eating two coconut macaroon cookies daily could control the devastating diarrhea brought on by his life-long inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s). He shared this surprising outcome, and many other people have benefited over the last decade.

Several weeks ago we heard from a reader that a common herb, cilantro (coriander leaf), might offer unexpected help:

“I have a home remedy that is amazing. I used to have severe psoriasis on my knees, elbows, eyes, forehead, wrists, feet and scalp. It would crack and bleed, itch and flake.

“One day a man commented on my raw patches and asked about the treatments I’d tried. I explained about the numerous prescription treatments that had next-to-no success. Steroids gave short-term relief but the problem usually came back worse than before the treatment.

“This man said to cure my skin problem all I needed to do was eat raw cilantro. He said I should eat enough to turn my stool green.

“I found that it takes a bundle each day for 10 to 15 days. I mix it in a green salad with my favorite dressing and find it an interesting flavor. My skin has been completely clear for six years. If I notice a small patch starting to get rough once or twice a year, I eat a bundle of cilantro for two or three meals and have no more skin problems!”

We could find no research to support his claims, but since then we have heard from others who have also reported benefit.

One person offered this follow-up:

“I have been testing this out, as I have bouts of psoriasis. This winter I woke up sporting quite a few spots on my thighs. I know how quickly this stuff can multiply so I thought I would test out the cilantro. I can say that it is having an effect.”

Another reader reported:

“I have been eating one bunch of cilantro in a salad for lunch every day for about two weeks. It worked. My psoriasis subsided just like it does in the summer after exposure to the sun. No other drink (oolong tea, green tea) had any notable effect. No topical creams had any notable effect. My scalp is not perfect, but I don’t have to hide my skin.”

In an experimental vein, one woman came up with a different way to consume this remedy:

“I make a smoothie with cilantro and V8 juice in the blender. It is helping my psoriasis tremendously.”

There is still no evidence grounded in science that would support or explain this home remedy. We caution those taking warfarin that cilantro, like parsley, is very rich in vitamin K and suddenly increasing consumption by eating a bunch a day could interfere with the effectiveness of the anticoagulant.

It is unlikely that scientists will test cilantro, but these stories stand as a reminder that careful observation can lead to intriguing options.

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  1. Pascal Druzgala
    Santa Rosa, CA

    I can offer a scientific explanation to this observation. A protein called Gas6 is found to be low in the blood of people with psoriasis. This has been recognized in several peer-reviewed scientific articles. Gas6 is an anti-inflammatory protein. It is much more complicated than that but for the purpose of this post it is enough explanation. Gas6 is a Vitamin K-dependent protein, meaning that it’s synthesis is dependent on the availability of Vitamin K. Therefore it makes absolute sense to me that eating foods that are rich in Vitamin K would ease psoriatic symptoms. It also makes perfect sense that people who take warfarin (coumadin(R)) as a blood thinner, a Vitamin K antagonist (meaning that it antagonizes the effects of Vitamin K), appear to have worse psoriatic symptoms. As a warning however, people who take warfarin as a medication should not eat foods that are rich in Vitamin K, otherwise their medication will stop working and they will be at risk of developing stroke.

  2. marvin f.

    A lot of good advice….

  3. kim

    Day two of cilantro…I made a smoothie!!!! A bunch of Cilantro, 4 pear halves canned from trader joes and a lil juice and a scoop of banana protein. It makes eating this much cilantro doable. Found the recipe on pinterest and changed it up some.

  4. WRW

    this sounds interesting. where can I get this?

  5. JT

    For Crohn’s, You can get the same good results from just 3 pinches a day of angel flake coconut rather than having to eat the coconut macaroon cookies. The cookies are very hard to find in my area.
    Apple cider vinegar is what you use to kill a stomach virus. 2 tablespoons in 4 or 5 ounces of cold water, add 1 ice cube, stir and sip till its gone. Works every time.
    For psoriasis, blend a banana peel until its mushy (remove the black end where it was attached to the stalk) and apply to the psoriasis area. Leave on 30 minutes or so.
    For menstrual cramps, take 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pure virgin olive oil. Stops them flat in 15 to 20 minutes. Olive oil is anti-spasmodic, what are cramps, they’re spasms…. also stops gall bladder pain unless yours is so bad, its beyond help and needs to be removed.
    Listerine kills fleas on your dogs and apparently will kill the ticks too.

  6. Kahleen

    Has anyone tried Saffron Tea for plaque psoriasis? It is my latest remedy and is working well. It seems to have the same effect as cilantro without all the preparation.

  7. Jon

    So…did it help her?

  8. Kahleen

    Did you apply that cilantro essential oil & thyme topically or did you take it internally??

  9. J.E.

    How did you use the cilantro essential oil and thyme?

  10. Terry

    I think you would be OK eating a bunch of Cilantro/Corriander each day (at least up to 40g) without causing any problems. As per this Wikipedia link a 100 gram portion contains 310 micro grams of Vitamin K 295% of the recommended daily allowance.
    Also worth noting is that there are no upper Toxicity levels of Vitamin K – see also this Wikipedia article:
    Both above article are worth a read for anyone who is in two minds about daily consumption of Coriander!

  11. Kay R.

    I have had pustular psoriasis for over 35 years. I have done it all to try to get it under control…over 6 different dermatologists, taken all the drugs they prescribed such as:Humara, Enbrel, (these 2 drugs cost about $3,000 to $5,000 per prescription) Cyclosporine, Methotrexate, Soriatine, Photo Therapy (my cost with insurance was $60 a treatment. My dermatologist discounted it for me. Had it 3 times a week) Raptiva ( one infusion of this cost $8,000, and they could not even give me a whole infusion because it made my blood pressure spike to 180/98 when they did),and can’t remember what else I have taken.
    All of these drugs knock your immune system out. I was on Peoples Pharmacies’ website one day (for another reason), and a lady had emailed them that she also had had psoriasis for many years. Someone told her to eat a “bunch” of cilantro a day. She said she did, and it cleared her psoriasis. Well, a bunch of cilantro is a lot to eat.
    My sister’s massage therapist told me about the essential oils that she sold. She had cilantro essential oil. I tried it along with thyme. I also started a gluten free diet. Lo and behold, it cleared my psoriasis more than anything ever has.

    • Lisa

      Awesome!!! How did you use the essential oil? Ingesting or on the skin with thyme?? Thank you!

  12. Eleanore W.

    As an RN, I have taught Cerified Nurse Assistants. In the Missouri student manual for teaching CNA’s they recommend rinsing the hair of residents, with scalp problems, with vinegar-they didn’t specify white or apple cider vinegar. We used white vinegar in some in one of the nursing homes and it did help.
    I have also used it on my own hair when I have noticed some itching and it relieved it. It mentioned, as a caution, to not use it for a week after a new permanent. They updated the manual around 2000 and it was still in it.


    the Organic Apple Cider Vinegar does work even better. I still can’t find where I read the original article. Maybe it will get re-posted. It certainly has helped me!


    I have problems with high blood pressure, but when I took the Cilantro – a bunch every day in V-8 Juice; it did not affect my blood pressure at all. Thanks for the red flag though.


    I just read in one of your emails this week that someone used “Organic Apple Cider Vinegar” for their scalp psoriasis. I owe that person big time for writing in!!! Do I dare say that it is the best thing I have tried since the cilantro (which was a big miracle for me). I just did it this morning and can’t believe the difference.
    Before I was making the cilantro V-8 smoothie each day and washing my hair with a Tea Tree Shampoo from my dermatologist, and a Tea Tree Conditioner. This morning I washed my hair with the regular shampoo that the family uses poured the Apple Cider Vinegar over my head and let it sit for a few minutes, washed it off and towel tried my hair.
    My scalp has never felt so GOOD! I can’t wait to use it again tomorrow morning. Hopefully this works for others as well. This person said to be sure to use ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. I just used what I had in the house, “Generic Brand Apple Cider Vinegar” and it worked wonderfully for me.
    I can’t wait to get to the store to get the ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, maybe that will be even better. I was surprised that after my hair dried it did not have a trace of the vinegar smell (thank heavens)!

  16. MimiB

    I have very moderate psoriasis which I usually treat with a small application of coal tar gel, which is a traditional treatment that helps somewhat. But I’m concerned about using it long term. I like the taste of cilantro, but usually only eat a small amount occasionally. I think I’ll try to incorporate more of it. Salads sound good, as do smoothies.
    What constitutes a “bunch or bundle”? At one green market I frequent, the bunches are huge. At the supermarket, the bunches are much smaller. Do people eat the stems and leaves or just the leaves?

  17. WHM

    Read your article and been eating cilantro for 15 days, although early, I see clearing and marked improvement. I found eating cilantro this way is very good. I fix a cup of soup, pour off the liquid, mix the chopped up cilantro with the noodles, about a third of a bunch at a time. Tastes great.

  18. JC

    There are some very interesting discussion at the moment over at Inspire, regarding the use of Glycerine
    as a topical treatment for Psoriasis, surprisingly, this cheap and available remedy is very effective for many People suffering this awful disease, myself included.
    For anyone interested, some links,
    Thanks also to the wonderful People’s Pharmacy.You have become my favorite read! The knowledge and experiences provided here are awesome.

  19. My

    If you find this information amazing, you might be more amazed to read about Ayurveda. There is nothing accidental about this “discovery”. It’s been known and widely used in Ayurveda for over 5000 years.

  20. paul

    Any particular brand of tart cherry juice ??

  21. Jerry in North Carolina

    I too am a long time sufferer (35+ years) of psoriasis and I too made an accidental discovery. About 5 years ago, my doctor recommended I begin taking Vitamin D as he felt my blood level of vitamin D was low. Much to my surprise my psoriasis began to disappear almost immediately and is virtually gone at this point.
    Several patches that had proved impossible to cure with other medications were also gone. When my blood tests showed normal levels the doctor asked me to cut back the dosage and when I did the psoriasis returned.
    I now take 5000 units of vitamin D per day and that is enough to keep my psoriasis in check. While I have a few minor patches of psoriasis on my scalp, I choose not to up the dosage to get rid of it as my doctor is concerned my blood levels might exceed their guidelines. Regular monitoring of my vitamin D levels show that I am in the middle of the acceptable range with this dosage.

  22. carlos s.

    I have a daughter 13 years old and she has this problem and I already tried a lot medicine but now I will try cilantro and I will let you know if this is help to my daughter. thanks

  23. G. K. Pandey

    In experiments with chickens on a large scale the poultry industry in the US has proven the beneficial effects of coriander seeds (from cilantro). Coriander seed powder when added in the feed to be effective in controlling incidence of E.coli infection. Coriander seed powder is widely used in South Asian cuisine.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Thanks for the tip. We couldn’t find the poultry reference, but there is laboratory research. Here’s an abstract:

  24. NP

    I just started drinking one large glass of tart cherry juice a day to try and help me sleep. If it has helped that, it is only slightly, but I have had an amazing improvement in the Psoriasis I was diagnosed with a few years ago. No medications have helped this dramatically. Has anyone else noticed this benefit from tart cherry juice?

  25. Cindy B.

    I love cilantro and use it paired with chlorella for heavy metal detox. I had a severe mercury exposure a year or so ago. You can find all kinds of recipes for this on the web if you google heavy metal or mercury detoxification.

  26. CAT

    I’ve had Psoriasis as long as I can remember (I’m 54) always would get better in the summer, but the winter-itchy, red & flaky. I always had a patch on my right ankle, other places would come & go. I just realized a few months ago that the patch on my ankle is gone. I thought it might have something to do with tea, I don’t drink olong, but black tea from Great Britian. Now I think it’s the cilantro that I love & put in everything-Wow!

  27. PK

    Be very aware and very careful about consuming excessive cilantro. I was consuming about a third of a bunch per day, each morning, for 6 months because the high concentration of nutrients that I deemed desirable after switching from parsley which contains somewhat high levels of Oxalic acid (potential buildup and small potential for kidney stones).
    Anyway, after months of taking the cilantro, I started to feel a bit odd at times, especially over night, feeling ‘hypertensive’. When I would get up to go to use the bathroom, my head would often be pounding and I had a dull pressure feeling behind my eyes. I confirmed that the unusual symptoms were related to a general raise in blood pressure, confirmed with taking my blood pressure at various times of the day and night for a couple of days. This was a major red flag, so I went back and researched the nutrients contained in cilantro.
    What I discovered was that cilantro is extremely high in vitamin K, the blood coagulant component, and I was consuming an excessive amount of cilantro each day. Cilantro was listed as having some 1250% of the daily minimum in a nominal portion, and I was taking many time more that what would be considered nominal. I stopped the cilantro immediately.
    Now a week later, I am feeling pretty much back to normal, the symptoms are gone, and my blood pressure is back down. My sense is that the overdose of vitamin K was making my blood even thicker that it is normally making it more difficult pumping it through the blood stream system.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: The explanation sounds a little questionable, but we don’t doubt your report. Cilantro is usually consumed as a spice, in fairly modest or at least occasional amounts. We can’t assume that large quantities are safe, and we know that it interacts with warfarin (Coumadin).

  28. Camille

    I forgot to say that all those ways of eating cilantro (unless you consider tossing it in soup at the end cooking it) are ways to eat it RAW, just in case it needs to be consumed raw to have the intended effect.

  29. Camille

    I love to eat cilantro with lemon, onion, tomato, mint, and cucumber. I also love to eat it as part of a ceviche with a white fish (same idea as above but with fish). Also, when I cook salmon–in blackened seasoning–I try always to have cilantro with it along with cotija cheese, red cabbage, red onion & lemon. I also love it in guacamole and sprinkled in soup after the soup’s been cooked. So many delicious ways to have cilantro–yum!!!!!

  30. JDS

    Hmmm, Cilantro in V8! That even sounds pleasantly tasty!

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