Eryngium foetidum is a tropical perennial herb in the family Apiaceae. Its scientific Latin name literally translates as "foul-smelling thistle". Common names include culantro (// or //), "cha[r]don beni", Mexican coriander, bhandhania, and long coriander. It is native to Mexico and South America, but is cultivated worldwide, sometimes being grown as an annual in temperate climates. In the United States, where it is not well known outside the Latino/Hispanic, Indo-Caribbean, and Caribbean communities, the common name culantro sometimes causes confusion with cilantro, a common name for the leaves of Coriandrum sativum (also in Apiaceae), of which culantro is said to taste like a stronger version.
E. foetidum is widely used in seasoning, marinating and garnishing in the Caribbean, particularly in Panama, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and in Peru's Amazon regions. It is also used extensively in Thailand, India, Vietnam, Laos, and other parts of Asia as a culinary herb. It dries well, retaining good color and flavor, making it valuable in the dried herb industry. It is sometimes used as a substitute for coriander (also called "cilantro"), but it has a much stronger taste.
In the United States, E. foetidum grows naturally in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It is sold in grocery stores as a culinary herb under the common names; "culantro" // or "recao" //.
E. foetidum has been used in traditional medicine for burns, earache, fevers, hypertension, constipation, fits, asthma, stomachache, worms, infertility complications, snake bites, diarrhea, and malaria.
Eryngium foetidum is also known as E. antihystericum. The specific name antihystericum reflects the fact that this plant has traditionally been used for epilepsy. The plant is said to calm a person's 'spirit' and thus prevents epileptic 'fits', so is known by the common names spiritweed and fitweed. The anticonvulsant properties of this plant have been scientifically investigated.[medical citation needed] A decoction of the leaves has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in rats.
Eryngial is a chemical compound isolated from E. foetidum. The University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica, has investigated the use of enyngial as a treatment for human Strongyloides stercoralis infection (strongyloidiasis).
It is used as an ethno-medicinal plant for the treatment of a number of ailments such as fevers, chills, vomiting, burns, fevers, hypertension, headache, earache, stomachache, asthma, arthritis, snake bites, scorpion stings, diarrhea, malaria and epilepsy.[medical citation needed] The main constituent of essential oil of the plant is eryngial (E-2-dodecenal). Pharmacological investigations have demonstrated anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-clastogenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial activity.[unreliable medical source?]
The nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis which causes rat lungworm disease may be very widespread in the United States. Beginning in 2017, Hawaii experienced an epidemic involving Eryngium foetidum that is infested with the semislug Parmarion martensi, which is the principal molluscan vector of the disease. The slime containing the stage 3 larvae can cause the disease and that the nematode larvae can remain viable in the slime for up to three weeks.
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