The herb coriander -- also known as cilantro -- may be more than just a garnish or ingredient in your favorite dishes. The oil from its seeds could also combat serious bacteria like E. coli and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a new study suggests.
Scientists from the University of Beira Interior, in Portugal, found that a solution containing less than 1.6 percent of coriander oil was able to kill or at least slow down the growth of 12 bacterial strains, including E. coli, MRSA, salmonella and Bacillus cereus. Many of the strains cause food poisoning.
Coriander oil works by causing membrane damage to the bacteria, leading to cell death, according to the Journal of Medical Microbiology study.
Now, researchers said the oil could be used to help fight drug-resistant bugs -- it also has the potential to fight food-borne diseases by being added to food additives, TIME reported.
Coriander is commonly used in both Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, and has long been revered for its medicinal properties, researchers said. It's known as a home remedy for aiding with digestion, relieving feelings of nausea and helping to stop cramps.
There are other herbs that have also shown promise in fighting infection. A 2003 study by Australian scientists showed that basil essential oil is an effective antimicrobial against bacteria, mold and yeast, while a 2006 review from Tufts University researchers revealed that peppermint effectively works as an antimicrobial and antioxidant.