How Cilantro Can Help You Detox

By: Ginny Mahar

Average reading time: 2 minutes

Cilantro has a reputation as one of the world’s most polarizing herbs. Some of us love its pungent and citrusy leaves. Some of us equate it with eating hand sanitizer. For those of you who think cilantro tastes like soap, apologies and have a nice day. For the rest of you, I think you’d better read this.

Cilantro and Your Thyroid

Did you know that cilantro is a powerful detoxifying herb? Or that it can help stabilize blood sugar, fight infection, protect the heart, reduce anxiety and help you sleep? These are just a few of the benefits which abound in both Cilantro (aka Chinese Parsley) and the seed form of cilantro, commonly referred to as coriander.

In this article, we’re going to focus on the natural chelating abilities of cilantro, or in other words, its ability to help remove heavy metals from our tissues. This is especially important for thyroid patients because heavy metal toxicity in the body (from substances like lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, and arsenic) is closely intertwined with our thyroid health.


How Heavy Metals Accumulate in the Body

Heavy metals set up camp in our tissues, where they get stored along with other toxins. This is especially true for our thyroid because the thyroid metabolizes things quickly; therefore, more toxins pass through it. Sometimes those toxins are so chemically similar to iodine, which is utilized by the thyroid to make thyroid hormone, that the thyroid absorbs them.

Heavy metals are everywhere—the air, the water, the soil. It’s impossible to avoid them completely. They are a part of life on Earth, and have been a detrimental byproduct of modern life and the industrial age.

One major source of heavy metal pollution is the burning of coal and fossil fuels, which puts stuff like mercury into our environment. Yep, driving your car creates heavy metal pollution. Those toxic metals make their way into our bodies through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. As the world becomes exponentially more populated and polluted, heavy metals increase in our environment, and therefore our bodies.

Health issues like autoimmune-related thyroid disorders are part of that great web. It’s all inter-connected: our planet, our diet, and our well-being.


The presence of thyroid antibodies can be an indicator of Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism) or Graves’ Disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism). Doctor’s don’t know what causes the immune system to attack the thyroid; therefore, effective treatment can vary greatly from patient to patient. Potential triggers include (but are not limited to) genetics, viruses, bacteria, and estrogen fluctuations. There are also environmental triggers, like mercury exposure. Studies have shown a direct link between mercury exposure and an increase in thyroid antibodies.

What Can We Do To Minimize Our Mercury Levels?

For starters, we can minimize our exposure to heavy metals by filtering our drinking water, avoiding mercury amalgam fillings, avoiding smoking, and carefully selecting which types of fish to consume. This is good practice for anyone and especially important for children.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is an amazing resource for consumers. Their handy wallet cards can help us make choices that are healthy for both our bodies, and our oceans. Click here to find a printable consumer guide for your state, outlining which seafood choices are lower in mercury. They offer specific recommendations for sushi if you’re into that, and they even have an app.

We can also add things to our diet that help remove toxic metals from the body like turmeric and—you guessed it—cilantro!

This medical study provides evidence that cilantro can accelerate the body’s urinary excretion of mercury and lead from the body. Another study showed that lead levels in tissues were significantly decreased in laboratory mice by administering coriander (the seed form of cilantro, and the name for leafy cilantro in some cultures).

The takeaway: Incorporating more cilantro into our diets can help support the body’s natural detox pathways, especially when it comes to heavy metals like mercury and lead.

How Can I Incorporate More Cilantro Into My Diet?

Cilantro can be so much more than just a garnish. These mouth-watering recipes make it easy to add more cilantro to your thyroid-friendly diet.

I hope you’ve found some food for thought here, and a little added inspiration to load up on that garnish.


About the Author

Thyroid Refresh Co-founder Ginny Mahar is the mom and recipe blogger formerly known as Hypothyroid Chef. After struggling with the residual symptoms of Hashimoto’s for over four years, she embarked on her own process of adopting a thyroid-specific diet and lifestyle. Within one year, she restored her vitality and lowered her thyroid antibodies by half. Ginny is a passionate advocate of supporting others on their journeys toward better health. She is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, cooking instructor, writer, and entrepreneur.