Biological Activity of Coriander Essential Oil: History
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There has been a growing demand for the use of naturally-derived compounds in medicine, food preservation, pesticides, and herbicides. The coriander essential oils, produced as secondary metabolites, contain single or groups of phytocompounds that possess pharmacological activities such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, and insecticidal properties. The biological activities and therapeutic effects of coriander essential oil make it a suitable agent for treating bacterial and fungal infections in plants and animals, and for use in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

  • essential oils
  • antimicrobial
  • seed

1. Antioxidant Activity

Oxidation of food such as meat, dairy and bakery products is one of the major causes of food spoilage, causing the loss of food quality and nutrition, which is a major loss for the food industry. Therefore, the food sector urgently needs new and efficient methods to help avoid food spoilage caused by oxidation [1]. Thus, coriander, as a spice, is used to season food in industries to prevent food spoilage. Coriander essential oil at a concentration of 0.1 g/mL is known to exhibit antioxidant properties by scavenging free radicals (DPPH and galvinoxyl) and inhibiting oxidative damage in lipid-containing foods [2]. It serves as a natural replacement for synthetic antioxidants such as BHA, BHT, TBHQ and propyl gallate used in the food industry. In the study conducted by Shahwar et al. [3], the antioxidant activity was evaluated using 1,1-Diphenyl-2-Picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging activity and Ferric-reducing antioxidant power assay (FRAP). In the DPPH assay, 500 μg of CSEO showed the highest radical-scavenging activity (RSA) of 66.48% when compared to 500 μg of CLEO which showed RSA of 56.73%. In the FRAP assay, the coriander seed oil showed an absorbance of 0.734, while coriander leaf oil showed an absorbance of 0.815. The terpenoid compounds present in coriander essential oil, such as linalool (monoterpene), are responsible for the antioxidant activity [4][5]. It bears hydroxyl groups that serve as proton donors that scavenge oxygen free radicals and act as inhibitors for radical chain reactions [6][7]. The antioxidant profile of C. sativum seed extract (mg/g dry weight) by Dua et al. [8] reports the presence of ascorbate, caffeic acid, ellagic acid, gallic acid, riboflavin, tocopherol, and polyphenol, as indicated in Table 6.
Table 1. Antioxidant profile of C. sativum seed extract.
Metabolite Amount in mg/g Dry Weight of Sample Method of Analysis References
Caffeic Acid 0.08 HPLC method [9]
Ellagic Acid 0.162 HPLC method [9]
Gallic Acid 0.173 HPLC method [9]
Kaempferol 0.233 HPLC method [9]
Oxidized Ascorbate 0.15 Spectrophotometric method [10]
Reduced Ascorbate 0.136 Spectrophotometric method [10]
Riboflavin 0.0046 Spectrophotometric method [11]
Tocopherol 0.181 Spectrophotometric method [11]
Total Ascorbate 0.287 Spectrophotometric method [10]
Total Polyphenol 18.7 Folin-Ciocalteau method [12]
Quercetin 0.608 HPLC method [9]

2. Antimicrobial Activity

Among the various naturally-occurring bioactive agents, plant essential oils have drawn attention as a potential source of antimicrobial compounds [13]. Coriander essential oil has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and virus by inhibiting their growth which will be discussed in detail in the upcoming sections. However, the activity varies with the compositions of the essential oils based on plant age, geographical regions, and oil extraction methods [14].

2.1. Antibacterial Activity

The essential oils derived from various plant species have been previously investigated for antibacterial potential for application in food and pharmaceutical industries. The crude oil extract of C. sativum has shown antibacterial activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria such as Yersinia enterocolitica, Bacillus megaterium, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus [15][16]. EO derived from coriander has shown antibacterial activity against Acinetobacter baumannii LMG 1025 and LMG 1041 with MIC values of 1 µL/mL and 4 µL/mL respectively [17]. With minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 71.55, 86.4, and 35.2 g/mL, respectively, plantaricin, an antimicrobial peptide isolated from coriander leaf extract, exhibited antibacterial action against K. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa, and S. aureus [18]. CEO permeabilizes the bacterial cell and damages the cell membrane, inhibits all the metabolic functions of the bacterial cell, and causes membrane polarization ultimately leading to bacterial cell death, and the linalool in the coriander essential oil exhibits its bactericidal action by acting on the bacterial cell wall [1][19]. The immunostimulant potential has elicited disease resistance in Catla catla fish infected with Aeromonas hydrophila [20]. The coriander EO has shown antibiofilm activity against Stenotropomonas maltophilia [21].

2.2. Antifungal Activity

Plants are susceptible to fungal attack by direct contact or through wounds during growth. High moisture content on plant surfaces and high humidity are the major causes for fungal contamination. This could reduce the plant yield in agriculture and cause economic loss. However, some plants, such as coriander, produce essential oils that exhibit antifungal effects against pathogenic fungi [22]. Coriander EO has been used as a fungicide against fungi that are responsible for the spoilage of foods with a high moisture content. Thus, it is used in the food industry to inhibit fungal contamination in food. When the fungicidal activity of CEO was evaluated against Candida spp., it was observed that the minimum inhibition concentration (MIC) of CLEO ranged from 15.6–31.2 μg/mL, and the minimum fungicidal concentration (MFC) 31.2–62.5 μg/mL [23]. The growth of molds such as Aspergillus niger, Penicillium expansum, Monilia sitophila, Penicillium stoloniferum and Rhizopus stolonifer have been inhibited by the application of 0.15% CEO in cakes without affecting the quality of the product, as it was used in a minimal amount [6]. The application of coriander EO inhibited the growth of seed-borne pathogenic fungi such as Alternaria alternata, Bipolaris oryzae, Curvularia lunata, Drechslera halodes, Fusarium oxysporum, and Tricoconis padwickii in paddy [24]. In a study conducted by Soares et al., [25] coriander EO at 1 mg/mL concentration showed a zone of inhibition of 20–32 mm in Microsporum canis and 9–10 mm in Candida strains. CEO inhibits fungal growth by inhibiting the germ tube formation on yeast (Candida species). Furthermore, CEO permeabilizes the fungal membrane causing leakage of intracellular components [18].

3. Anthelmintic Activity

Gastroenteritis caused by parasitic worms in ruminants has been responsible for a decrease in animal productivity and farm profitability, and is recognized as one of the major challenges in livestock. Anthelmintic drugs such as albendazole and ivermectin are used to control and kill these parasitic helminths. However, the prevalence of multidrug-resistant parasites has hampered the effectiveness of these broad-spectrum anthelmintics. Thus, in order to reduce the accumulation of chemical residues and drug-resistant helminths, plant-derived extracts and oil serve as an alternative cost-effective approach. C. sativum extract has exhibited various medicinal properties and is also known to be effective against parasitic worms [26]. The anthelmintic activity of crude aqueous and hydro-alcoholic extracts of C. sativum fruit (0.5 mg/mL) has been observed to inhibit the hatching of eggs and act upon the adult nematode Haemonchus contortus [27]. In the study by Helal et al. [26], the anthelmintic effects of extracted coriander oil on third-stage larvae (L3s) of Cooperia oncophora, Haemonchus contortus, Teladorsagia circumcincta, Trichostrongylus axei, Trichostrongylus colubriformis, and Trichostrongylus vitrinus is examined. Coriander oil in combination with linalool had a synergistic anthelmintic effect by inducing structural damage in L3 larvae of all species except C. oncophora. With respect to plants, Sitophilus granarius, a parasite in chickpea grains, is inhibited by coriander EO [28]. The linalool in the coriander essential oil disrupts the membrane function through strong lipolytic activity and inhibits acetylcholine receptors, causing neurotoxicity in nematodes [26].

4. Insecticidal Activity

The storage of cereals and grains after harvest is prone to insect attack, incurring losses. Thus, proper storage of grains post-harvest is very crucial [29]. Synthetic insecticides such as carbon disulfide (CS2), methyl bromide (MB/MeBr/CH3Br), aluminum phosphide (AlP), carbon tetrachloride (CTC), acrylonitrile (ACN), ethylene dichloride (EDC), ethylene dibromide (EDB), and methyl benzoate are employed to protect and control the insect pest attack of stored goods, thus preventing post-harvest losses [30][31]. However, these synthetic insecticides are associated with safety concerns of the worker, insect resistance, accumulation of toxic residues in the food, environmental contamination, and the cost of treatment [32][33]. Currently, research has been focused on essential oils derived from plants for the protection of grains against pest attack, due to their insect repellent properties and fumigant activity [34]. The volatile toxicity of coriander EO against insects makes it a natural alternative to synthetic insecticides. The linalool fraction of coriander EO has been identified to be involved in controlling three rice pests: Cryptolestes pusillus, Rhyzopertha dominica and Sitophilus oryzae [35]. The essential oil has exhibited fumigant toxicity and repellent activity on pupae, larvae, and Tribolium castaneum [36], and the linalool has demonstrated high fumigant toxicity against Lasioderma serricorne [34]. The essential oils are potent neurotoxins that inhibit acetylcholinesterase in the central nervous system, causing hyperactivity, seizures, tremors and paralysis [37]. The mode of penetration of CEO into the insect cuticle and grain and its metabolic target is yet to be unveiled [36].

5. Antidiabetic Activity

Diabetes mellitus is a hyperglycemic condition caused by a decrease in insulin resistance, insulin secretion, or both. This metabolic disorder is responsible for chronic complications, which include neuropathic, macrovascular, and microvascular complications [38]. Despite the fact that the etiology of diabetes is still poorly understood, experimental studies reveal that reactive oxygen species could be one of the reasons for the pathogenesis of diabetes, which includes disruption of pancreatic beta cells and excess weight gain [39]. A number of medicines used to treat diabetes are available on the market, however, they come with certain drawbacks due to their high cost and side effects. Thus, medicinal plants are once again being researched for the treatment of diabetes, and Coriandrum sativum has been reported to exhibit antidiabetic activity [40]. In streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice, the antihyperglycaemic effect of coriander has been reported [41]. The effect of administration of coriander essential oil on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats has been reported. In another study by Mahmoud et al. [42], the effect of coriander oil on dexamethasone-induced insulin resistance in rats has been studied. CEO could reverse the increase in glucose and insulin in serum, MDA and GSH levels in the pancreas, and BAX/BCL2 ratio induced by dexamethasone in rats. The linalool, geranyl acetate and γ-terpinene in coriander essential oil could significantly reduce serum glucose and increase glutathione peroxidase levels in diabetic mice [43]. CEO could inhibit the α-glucosidase enzyme which converts carbohydrates into monosaccharides in the small intestine before being absorbed. Furthermore, CEO lowers the blood glucose level by regenerating pancreatic beta cells (β cells) [38]. Linalool in CEO has restored the GLUT-1 expression in and has also enhanced the efficiency of rat diaphragm muscle in glucose uptake, improved glucose tolerance, and suppressed the formation of advanced glycation end products in diabetic rats [44][45].

6. Antihyperlipidemic/Hypolipidemic Activity

An increased level of fat product and its subsequent accumulation in subendothelial compartments of bone and vasculature results in hyperlipidemia. The excessive accumulation of fat could obstruct the blood flow, depriving tissues and organs such as the heart of oxygen-rich blood [46]. Many spices have been reported to exhibit hypolipidemic activity. Rich in petroselinic acid and other bioactive lipids, coriander seed oil has been thoroughly investigated for its hypolipidemic activity. In rats that had developed hyperlipidemia after being exposed to triton, coriander extract at a dosage of 1 g/kg decreased the absorption of lipids and increased the breakdown of lipids [47]. CEO decreased the triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC) and HDL (High density lipoprotein) levels in serum that had been enhanced in rats treated with dexamethasone [42]. Coriander essential oil exhibited hypocholesterolemic properties in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet by decreasing the levels of plasma total lipids (TL), total cholesterol (TC), triacylglycerols (TAG), and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in plasma. Further, it has been shown that the high petroselinic acid (isomer of oleic acid) in coriander EO could suppress the level of arachidonic acid by mimicking the structure of the precursor of arachidonic acid and by inhibiting Δ6-desaturase [48]. Thus, coriander EO has scope to be used in the treatment of coronary heart diseases caused by high fat deposition.

7. Maintenance of Good Digestive Health

Nearly 10% of people worldwide suffer from peptic ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract, caused by a change in mucosal resistance. There are numerous synthetic drugs on the market to treat peptic ulcers, many of which have adverse side effects. Thus, peptic ulcers are currently treated with medicinal herbs rich in secondary metabolites [49]. Coriander is effective against Helicobacter pylori and thus helps in treating open sores in the inner mucosal lining of the mouth and stomach, preventing the formation of gastric ulcers. The antigastric activity in C. sativum is attributed to the antioxidants in the plant, which scavenge reactive oxygen species formed on the surface of gastric mucosa. Coriander extract also forms a protective hydrophilic layer against gastric injury [50]. The phytocompounds such as carvacrol, terpineol, elemol present in the essential oil inhibit inflammatory mediators, increase prostaglandins, increase mucus production and open the KATP channel, thus healing gastric lesions [51]. These compounds are present in coriander essential oil and can thus be used in treating peptic ulcers. In a study by Heidari et al. [52], the protective effects of coriander essential oil against colitis induced by 4% acetic acid in Wistar rats are examined. Doses of 0.5 and 1 mL of the essential oil reduced the colon’s weight and were effective against lesions caused by colitis. The mode of action of CEO in treating colitis is by inhibiting cytokines and the pro-inflammatory mediator expression by suppressing necrosis factor (NF)- κ B activation in macrophages. The herb oil is actively involved in the elimination of toxins internally, and maintains good digestive health. This can be achieved by the topical application of coriander EO along with a carrier oil on the belly and lower back area [50].

8. Hepatoprotective Activity

The liver, a primary site of detoxification and metabolism of xenobiotics, is prone to frequent injury by drugs, toxic chemicals, and infiltrated microbes [53]. Treatments with naturally-derived drugs for hepatotoxicity are preferable over synthetic drugs, which would otherwise cause adverse side effects. Hepatotoxicity is associated with the generation of reactive oxygen species in the liver. Plants rich in antioxidant activity offer protection against reactive oxygen species. Essential oils from medicinal plants have been a suitable replacement for surgery, pharmacotherapy, and liver transplantation, all of which come with major complications [54]. Essential oils could reduce the cytokine production in hepatic injury-associated inflammation [55].
Coriander essential oil has been checked for its hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) in rats. The levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in the liver were analyzed, and the histopathology of carbon tetrachloride-treated mice was also performed. The essential oil reduced AST levels and ALT levels in the blood and exhibited hepatoprotective activity [56]. The reduction in AST and ALT level is attributed to α-pinene, camphor, geraniol, geranyl acetate, γ-terpinene, linalool, and p-cymene present in the essential oil. However, the linalool present in CEO is considered as a potential therapeutic agent against CCl4-induced hepatic damage [57][58][59]. The linalool inhibits the expression and production of inflammatory mediators induced by CCl4 and ameliorates against CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity [58]

9. Anti-Aging Properties

An essential part of the epidermis of skin is long chain fatty acid that maintains the structure and function of the human skin. However, over time, the loss of fatty acids in the epidermis results in aging, which has become an individual’s primary concern [60]. Considering the expensive cost of high-quality anti-aging products, it is essential to look for other, more affordable alternatives. Once again, plant-derived products are the most suitable replacement for costly anti-aging products. Coriander oil can be applied topically to promote skin healing and is a great substitute for sunscreen. In the study by Salem et al. [61] coriander essential oil was evaluated for antiwrinkle cosmetic potential activity in UV-induced skin photoaging mice. It was observed that coriander essential oil showed the highest collagenase, elastase, hyaluronidase and tyrosinase inhibitory activities. This is attributed to the inhibition of numerous cell-signaling pathways, downregulation of mRNA expression of MMP-1, decrease in expression of AP-1, COX-2, JNK, MDA, and PGE-2 levels, and increase in expression of SMAD3, TGFβ, and TGFβII levels. Furthermore, the linalool present in coriander oil exhibited antioxidative effects, preventing ROS generation caused by UV exposure. However, very few studies have reported the anti-aging effects of coriander essential oil on skin, and thus, there is scope for further clinical studies into its extensive application in the cosmetic industry.

10. Sedative/Anticonvulsant Properties

Nearly 20–30% of the human population suffers from epilepsy, a neurological disorder associated with seizures caused by abnormal brain activity. Currently, there are very few antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) available that can control seizures. However, epilepsy comes together with psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Opting for surgery as an option to control epilepsy only targets single localizable sites where seizures originate. Thus, there is a need for novel drug therapies that can efficiently act against drug-resistant seizures, which pose no side effects (psychiatric effects), are cheap, and are easily available. Currently, a number of studies identify natural medicines as potential antiepileptic drugs, and essential oils having distinctive chemical characteristics that make them suitable candidates for designing antiepileptic drugs [62]. Coriander EO, a rich source of linalool, has shown sedative and anticonvulsant properties.
A study conducted by Gastón et al. [63] assessed the effects of intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of CEO at 0.86, 8.6 and 86 μg/chic doses on emotionality and locomotor activity in neonatal chicks. The ICV injection of coriander induced a sedative effect at 8.6 and 86 μg doses, where the number of defecations, vocalizations, and escape attempts decreased and sleeping posture increased significantly. Earlier the study conducted by Emamghoreishi and Heidari-Hamedani [64] also showed the anticonvulsant properties of aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of CEO (200, 400, 600, and 800 mg/kg dose) against convulsion induced by pentylenetetrazole (PTZ). The highest activity (86% reduction in mortality) was achieved at a dosage of 800 mg/kg. The linalool present in CEO acts as a sedative by inhibiting glutamate release by acting as a competitive antagonist of ionotropic receptors of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) that mediate excitatory neurotransmission in the CNS [63][65].

11. Anxiolytic-Antidepressant Properties

Anxiety disorders, such as generalized and social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are one of the most frequent psychological issues around the globe, affecting nearly 40 million people in the U.S. [66]. Anxiety disorders are currently treated with psychotherapy or antidepressant medications, such as benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drugs, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and serotonin tricyclics, which have life-threatening side effects. Various essential oils like Citrus limon, Citrus sinensis, Rosa damascena, and Santalum album are known to relieve anxiety and stress [67]. The anxiolytic and antidepressant properties of coriander essential oil have been studied in vivo in β-amyloid rat models with Alzheimer’s disease by Cioanca et al. [68]. CEO enhanced the locomotor activity, increased the time spent and the number of entries in the open arm within the elevated plus-maze test, and also increased the time for swimming and immobility within the forced swimming test. Thus, CEO proved to be an excellent medicine for treating the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
The terpenes could prevent mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress [69]. Furthermore, both doses of coriander volatile oil (CO1% and CO3%), restored the activity of CAT (Catalase) and increased GSH (glutathione) levels in the hippocampal homogenates of Aβ (1–42)-treated rats. These results suggest an increase in anxiolytic and antidepressant-like behaviors, along with an increase in the antioxidant status in the hippocampal homogenates. The antidepressant activities of coriander oil are mediated by the action of the GABA receptor complex [68].

12. Allelopathy

One of the major challenges in agriculture is pest attacks and overgrowing weeds that compete with the main crop plants for nutrients and water uptake, resulting in poor crop yield [70][71]. This is controlled by the application of synthetic herbicides and pesticides in order to increase the crop yield [72]. However, continuous use of these herbicides and pesticides can result in herbicide-resistant weeds and environmental contamination. Thus, synthetic herbicides and pesticides can be replaced with natural plant-derived compounds for a safe environment and to produce high quality crops. Most aromatic plants release chemical compounds called allelochemicals that are phytotoxic to receiving organisms (weeds), and can be applied to kill plant pests. The essential oil in coriander is allelopathic and can be exploited as a biological agent to resist plant pests and reduce the growth of weeds [73][74].
Coriander essential oil is reported to show allelopathic activity against a wide range of weeds. In a study conducted by Azirak and Karaman, (2008), 3, 6, 10, and 20 µL has been used against various weed species such as Amaranthus retroflexus L., Raphanus raphanistrum L., Alcea pallida Waldst. & Kit., Avena fatua, Sinapis arvensis L., Centaurea salsotitialis L., Rumex nepalensis Spreng., and Sonchus oleraceus L. Doses of 10 and 20 µL of EO successfully inhibited the germination of all of these weed species except for Raphanus seeds [75]. When grown along with coriander, the EO released from coriander reduced the fresh weight of barnyardgrass, black nightshade, common lambsquarters, and purslane [76]. The germination of two weeds, Lathyrus annuus and Vicia villosa, was completely inhibited by coriander seed EO at 200–800 ppm [77]. The mode of action of these essential oils against weeds is still unclear. However, it is presumed that the monoterpenes present in the essential oils would have caused internal structural damage to cells causing the breakdown and decomposition of intact organelles within the cell [75].

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/molecules28020696

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