The humble curry leaf that grows everywhere threatening to be a weed (at least in my place) has such wonderful medicinal properties , yet it doesnt get the place of recognition it deserves.
In India as it is found everywhere and can grow with little or no care at all , it has been taken for granted and we tend to take out the curry leaves from the dishes prepared without giving a second glance. It is loaded with such medicinal properties , just a tsp of this every day can solve myriad problems.
Curry leaf has many medicinal properties. It stimulates digestive enzymes and helps break down food more easily. Have a glass of buttermilk mixed with a little hing (asafoetida) with a few curry leaves thrown after meal for good digestion.
Curry leaves or Sweet neem leaf (Murraya Koenigii) is an aromatic leaf generally used in south Indian cuisine. Curry leaves have antioxidant properties. They are rich in Vitamin C, and minerals calcium, phosphorus and iron, nicotinic acid and therefore serve as good nutritional supplements.
The aroma that assaults your senses when you enter a South Indian household is that emanating from curry leaves. Curry leaves are used for seasoning in south Indian and West coast Indian cuisine, generally in fresh form. Sometimes it is oven dried or roasted immediately before use. A very common technique of using curry leaves is frying it in oil or butter at the start of the preparation.
Home remedies and curry leaves
Curry leaves have the qualities of an herbal tonic. It has many herbal medicinal properties and is used widely in Ayurveda for its therapeutic properties.
A few home remedies utilizing curry leaves throughout India are:
- Curry leaves are your best bet against morning sickness during pregnancy. Mix lime juice, honey juice or sugar crystals with the curry leaf juice and drink it. This prevents nausea and dry vomiting.
- Curry leaves have been used for proper functioning and strengthening of stomach. For this purpose, curry leaf is mixed with finely chopped ginger, mixed with rice and taken early in the morning. This is known to reduce stomach disorders, constipation and even dizziness.
- Curry leaves are known to be good for health of your hair. Mix curry leaves in hot oil (coconut oil, mustard oil) and then wait for the curry leaves to turn darker in color. Remove it from heat, let it cool and store in a glass container. Apply this oil on the scalp and let it stay overnight. This prevents premature graying of hair, nourishes the hair root, and also is a growth stimulant for hair.
- Curry leaves mixed with asafetida added to butter milk, if taken daily after meals is a good home remedy for improper digestion.
- A few curry leaves can be chewed daily to reduce weight.
So, next time you come across curry leaf in a dish, don’t nudge it aside, instead eat it for your lustrous hair, glowing skin and staying healthy.
Medicinal properties of curry leaves in Ayurveda
Curry leaves is an inexpensive condiment which has excellent medicinal properties. The leaves, fruits, bark and roots of curry leaf tree are used in indigenous medicine as tonic, stimulant and anti flatulent A few uses of curry leaves in Ayurveda are;
Gastrointestinal properties: curry leaves are an herbal tonic which strengthen and promote the function of stomach. They act as mild laxatives. It stimulates the digestive enzymes and helps in the breakdown of food.
Tender curry leaves are useful in dysentery, diarrhea and piles treatment.
- It is used in the treatment of diabetes due to heredity as well as diabetes caused due to obesity. It helps in reducing weight and hence is considered effective in reducing the level of sugar in blood.
- It is a potent blood purifier and restorative of the degenerated blood cells.
- It helps in the building up and strengthening of liver, and also regulates metabolism of fatty acids.
- Kidney disorders: the juice of the roots of curry leaf tree is beneficial in the treatment of pain associated with kidney disorders.
- Curry leaves are known to promote hair growth and inhibit premature graying of hair. They bring about the growth of new hair which is healthier with normal melanin pigment.
- Burns and bruises: Curry leaves help in healing the burns, bruises and skin eruptions. They are applied in the form of poultices over the affected area of the skin.
- Fresh curry leaf juice helps in maintaining the health of the eyes. It also prevents the growth of cataract.
- Insect bites: the fruits of the citrus curry leaf trees are berries and are edible. They juice of the berries mixed with lime juice is applied over the insect stings and bites of poisonous insects for treatment.
Curry leaves in cancer
- Curry leaves have a chemical called mahanin which has been found to be effective against the cure of cancer cells. It causes controlled cell death.
- Curry leaves due to the presence of this chemical can cause selective death of prostate cancer cells. They are coming up as a new chemotherapeutic treatment of prostate cancer.
- A notable fact is that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men in US.
Curry leaves in diabetes
- Curry leaves are considered a good tonic for the spleen and pancreas and increase the number of cells of the islet of Langerhans which form insulin.
- Curry leaves re rich in minerals and trace minerals such as iron, zinc and copper which are known to play a role in maintaining normal glucose levels in the blood. Hence, curry leaves may be effective in the treatment of diabetes.
- Curry leaves are also significant in carbohydrate metabolism and restore the functions of liver and kidney enzymes which bring about the breakdown of carbohydrates.
- The antioxidant property of curry leaves is known to reduce the death of pancreatic cells and hence plays a crucial role in diabetes.
- Curry leaves are also known to reduce blood sugar levels.
Curry leaves in hair and skin care
- All parts of the curry leaf tree can be utilized in preparing oil by steam distillation and applied on head to prevent premature graying of hair. Oil with curry leaves mixed in it provides nourishment to the hair root. Curry leaves are also known to induce hair growth and the new hair follicles are normal with normal concentration of pigments.
- Studies have also reported that curry leaves can be used to maintain natural pigmentation of the skin, and is also known to possess some amount of sun protection factor.
- Curry leaves in formulation
Ortho massage oil: It is a pure herbal formulation which provides relief in arthritis, rheumatism, gout, paralysis, low back pain, rickets, removes swelling and frozen shoulder and other neuro muscular pain.
Constipation : It is an ayurvedic herbal drink promoting flatulence, and increase the appetite. It is also used for piles.
1. Raj MN, Peter KV, Nybe EV. Spices, New India Publishing, Vol 5, 2007, 170.
2. Pullaiah T. Encyclopedia of world medicinal plants, Daya books, Vol 2, 2006, 1380.
Rice 2 cups
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp udad dal
½ tsp chana dal
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 red whole dry chillies for tempering
½ tsp turmeric powder
Cashew nuts roasted for garnishing/peanuts also may be added
Salt to taste
2 tbsp sesame oil (
this oil makes a great difference to the
For the spice powder
1 ½ cups washed curry leaves firmly packed
4 whole red chillies
½ tsp pepper corns
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fenugreek
Tamrind , size of a
Cook rice either basmati or any long grain rice and keep it
cooled after cooking. Rice to be cooked dry and not mushy. With a tbsp of oil
roast the leaves first till they appear dry
and keep aside.
Roast all the spice powder ingredients in a medium flame and
grind to a powder , along with roasted
curry leaves.. As you are adding tamrind
it Is likely to appear pasty , you can add some drops of water to make it
little softer in texture.
In a broad pan first do the tempering with
oil,crackle mustard seeds,udad seeds, chana dal ,cumin,dry red chillies, add roasted
peanuts and turmeric powder and a pinch of hing .
Mix the cooled rice to the tempering and add the spice
powder with the salt and add the roasted cashew nuts for garnishing.Serve hot with a tbsp of ghee and can be had with papad or any raita.