Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Cilantro cleanse



Oh facebook and your unending perpetuation of useless “cleanses” and weight loss scams. I saw this one about cleaning your kidneys by drinking cilantro or parsley water.

The thing is, toxins don’t accumulate in your kidneys. The kidneys act as filters, removing waste products from your blood, and excreting them in your urine. They don’t hang onto these waste products (1).

Okay, so cilantro and parsley won’t rid your kidneys of toxins, but is there any truth to their use as “detoxifiers”? Well, parsley acts as a diuretic (i.e. it makes you pee more) so, in the sense that it will speed the removal of waste products from your body via urine it’s kind of true. However, it won’t remove any more waste than would be eventually removed if you just waited a little longer to pee.

Years ago, it was reported that a cilantro soup increased excretion of mercury following removal of mercury fillings (2). Since then, cilantro has been popularly touted as a detoxifier via chelation of heavy metals. Unfortunately, since that initial study, there has been little research to support the ability of cilantro to remove heavy metals from the body.

If you like cilantro and parsley water and tea, go ahead, there’s no evidence that consuming it will harm you. However, it’s not going to remove toxins from your kidneys, and it’s unlikely that it will remove toxins from elsewhere in your body.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

10 thoughts on “Cilantro cleanse

  1. I love these posts. I first found bite my words when researching nutribullet. It sounded like bullshit to me and after days and days i finally found a website that wasn’t selling the crap. i get so sick and tired of posts on facebook about weight loss ‘miracles’. I wish everyone could read bite my words. I’ve been telling everybody for years that your body detoxifies itself.


  2. U totally missed the boat on this one. Yes kidneys are filters which pass toxins into urine to be excreted. Like most filters, however,they are sometimes clogged with toxins that they can’t excrete like heavy metals or simply overworked by having to filter too much alcohol, refined sugar, etc. At this point a cleanse has the same effect as cleaning the filter on a vacuum or dryer. Routine cleaning allows the filter to perform its job effectively. Failing to do the occasional cleanse is like failing to change the oil filter on a car. The dirty fluids cause the machine to function poorly and eventually fail.


    • There is no evidence to support the use of cleanses or that your kidneys become clogged with toxins. The human body is not the same as a vehicle. Obviously excessive consumption of alcohol and other toxins is unhealthy and increases risk of many diseases. However, adoption of a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do for your health. Not doing a cleanse.


  3. I ave ckd and my nephrologist told me that my kidneys were no longer filtering like they should and are not getting rid of the creatine are protein like they should so why do you tell people that these different fruits and vegebles want help but my nutritionist say they will


    • Creatine and protein are not heavy metals so even if cilantro is beneficial in helping your body excrete them (which is dubious) it have an effect on creatine and protein metabolism. Continue to follow your nephrologist’s advice and check that your nutritionist is a registered dietitian. Best of luck.


  4. Is Diane a doctors pet? Parsley tea changed my life from frequent uti. Didnt follow doctors medications just parsley tea. How much commission do you get from a Money hungry doctors?


    • Nice to know that you have found relief. That doesn’t mean that cilantro cleanses work though.

      To set the record straight; my name is Diana, not Diane, and I don’t receive any money from doctors, or anyone for that matter.


  5. As a practicing herbalist, your statements are far from being accurate.
    There is a place in medicine for herbs and alternative treatments.
    Herbs can and do detox kidneys, livers, pancreas and the like.
    The herbs do it slower and safer than most of today’s modern medicine.
    Remember, most of the meds prescribed today and the OTC products are synthesized herb and plant mixtures that work.
    The FDA doesn’t want you growing a $3 dollar plant in your back yard when they can get $30 a pill 4 to 6 times a day from those that think plant extracts are phooey.


    • Did I say anything about OTC products and medications? No. Detoxes of either sort are an unnecessary waste of money and can also cause harm.


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