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Will Cilantro Help Your Irritated Fingertips?

When fingertips hurt and peel, will cilantro help them heal? One woman discovered that a cilantro salve made a big difference.

Sore, peeling fingertips can be a trial. Some people use a heavy-duty moisturizer such as petroleum jelly, while others apply lip balm to the irritated digits. The drawback is that these remedies are greasy and make it difficult to handle delicate materials such as art supplies or musical instruments. In searching for a natural remedy, one mother came us with a surprising solution. Will cilantro help heal your cracked fingertips as they helped her son?

Will Cilantro Help Heal Fingertips?

Q. My teenage son has tree pollen allergies and also plays a stringed instrument. His fingertips were peeling, so I thought it might be an allergy to the bow rosin, a pine tree product.

We tried OTC hydrocortisone cream for a bit and saw mild improvement. Then I read about eating cilantro for eczema or psoriasis. He does not like the taste of cilantro, so I crushed it and mixed it with olive oil and applied it to one hand. I tested the theory by putting organic coconut oil on the other hand, in case moisturizing was all that he required.

We were both impressed with the results the next morning. The cilantro hand was appearing to heal already, and the coconut oil hand looked about the same as before. After three nights of use his fingers were nearly healed.

Learning About Cilantro:

A. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is popular in Mexican, Indian, Chinese and other cuisines. It is rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Your story sent us to the medical literature to see if topical cilantro had been studied for skin irritation. Will cilantro help? The answer is a strong maybe. Iranian scientists have found it helpful against diaper rash (Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, Aug. 2017). However, some people may develop allergic reactions to cilantro leaves (Contact Dermatitis, Dec. 2001). We don’t know if these are the same individuals who cannot abide the taste of cilantro.

You can learn more about cilantro and other botanicals in our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life. You can order online or send $15.95 + $3 shipping and handling to Graedon Enterprises; SUYH; PO Box 52027; Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Others have found that eating fresh cilantro leaves can reduce the redness and itching of psoriasis plaques. It doesn’t work for everyone, but many have reported benefit.

Coriander Seed Tea:

One reader wrote about a different way to use this plant:

“Coriander seed taken as a tea also helps with psoriasis. I’ve been drinking it daily for about nine months and my psoriasis is much improved. It is a more economical way than eating cilantro [leaves] to get the same effect.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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