A sub-tropical plant native to India, the leaves of the curry tree are used for cooking and medicinal purposes. Curry leaves are aromatic and flavourful. They are known by several other names, the most common being Meetha Neem, Kadi Patta and Girinimba.
Research in the field of beneficial effects of curry leaves on the human body is lacking. However, there has been an adequate amount of test-tube studies and tests on animals, especially rodents, which have helped scientists to reach some conclusion.
Below, we explore the health benefits of curry leaves.
Provides antioxidants to the body
Curry leaves abound in plant substances like alkaloids, glycosides and phenolic compounds. These protective components have properties which ensure health benefits. Some of the most important of these include linalool, alpha-terpinene, myrcene, caryophyllene, murrayanol and alpha-pinene. These function as antioxidants in the body and play an essential part in keeping away diseases. They suppress oxidative stress associated with the development of chronic diseases and protect the liver from infection and inflammation. They also hunt down potentially harmful compounds known as free radicals. Curry leaves are useful for the treatment of liver cirrhosis.
Carbazole alkaloids help to regulate levels of cholesterol in the body. Thus, curry leaves encourage weight loss. You can consume dried curry leaves or add them to your food preparations and salads. Besides this, you need to follow a healthy diet and regular exercise to quicken weight loss.
Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases
High levels of cholesterol and triglyceride are risk factors that might lead to the development of heart diseases. Since extracts of curry leaves can reduce these levels, you would like to add them to your meals.
Treats an upset stomach
Curry leaves help in bowel movement and increases secretion of digestive enzymes. Thus, it can help in treating an upset stomach suffering from diarrhoea, constipation or dysentery. One convenient way to consume it for this purpose is to grind dried curry leaves and put them into buttermilk. This should be consumed on an empty stomach. Or, you can chew on tender and raw curry leaves.
As curry leaves help to stimulate digestive secretions, it relieves nausea. Women who are in the first trimester of pregnancy resort to curry leaves to soothe their morning sickness and nausea.
Gets rid of bacteria
Curry leaves pose as a natural treatment to eliminate infectious bacteria. The compound linalool contains properties to kill bacteria as well as rid the body of harmful free radicals. The carbazole alkaloids also offer bacterial and inflammatory resistance to the body.
Aid for diabetes
Curry leaves provide protection to insulin-producing cells of the pancreas and prevent damage from free radicals. The leaves have these properties due to the presence of minerals like copper, zinc, and iron. Thus, they can effectively reduce and keep control over blood glucose levels. This is extremely helpful for diabetic people.
Good for eyesight
Many consider that curry leaves have a beneficial effect on the eyes. This is due to the rich amount of Vitamin A present in the leaves. They protect from the early onset of cataract.
The linalool component induces an aromatic scent in the essential oil of curry leaves. Studies have proved that the scent produces a calming effect on the mind. Stress, depression and anxiety are effectively reduced when one breathes in the smell of curry leaves.
Heal burns and wounds
In case of minor wounds, you can grind the curry leaves into a paste. By applying a little water to make it more consistent, the paste can be finally applied directly on the skin. This process also aids to soothe and cure burns, boils and other skin eruptions. Next, cover the area with a medical gauze or a bandage. The carbazole alkaloid quickens the process of healing bruises and wounds.
Curry leaves have the potential to empower the nervous system, including the brain. The leaves help in benefiting memory capacity and also dealing with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The rich iron and folic acid content in curry leaves helps in increasing iron levels in the body. This serves as a major advantage to an anaemic patient.
Since Curry leaves possess anti-mutagenic potential, they can protect the body from various types of cancers. The flavonoids act as anti-cancer agents and are effective in inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells. Other than this, curry leaves also protect from colon cancers and cervical cancers.
Curry leaves are rich in vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and nicotinic acid. These are responsible for ensuring health of hair and scalp:
- Curry leaves enhance the restoration capabilities of the scalp and thus, increase hair growth. They also allow hair follicles to breathe by opening up clogged ones. If extract of hibiscus is mixed with curry leaves, the antioxidants in the resultant combination strengthen hair follicles and moisturise the scalp. Thereby, it prevents hair loss.
- The components of proteins, beta carotene, and vitamin B6 benefits the hair shaft and prevents thinning of hair. A conventional way to make the best of this property is to add the essential oil of curry leaves to hair masks. Regular use strengthens the hair roots. Thus, curry leaves nurture longer and stronger hair.
- To maintain natural hair colour and add lustre to its quality, you can resort to the nourishment of curry leaves. All you have to do is boil the leaves, mix the residue with coconut oil, and then, massage your scalp thoroughly. Curry leaves, thus, stimulate an inherent production of melanin and averts premature greying of the hair.
- Since curry leaves are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, they protect the scalp from dandruff and infections. They are also convenient for sensitive scalps. Curry leaves paste can be mixed with yoghurt and applied for a healthier scalp. Keep it for at least half an hour and add fenugreek seeds for more efficient results.
- The damaging effects of pollutants and free radicals can be negated by the use of curry leaves.
In order to consume curry leaves such that you acquire the maximum benefits for your body, there is an ideal dosage that you can follow:
- Have 8 to 10 fresh Curry leaves per day
- Have 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Curry leaf powder per day
Other than direct consumption of the leaves, you can easily add them to your diet in versatile ways. The leaves have been part of the traditional Indian cuisine since ages. Their taste is slightly citrus with a tinge of nutty flavour.
Most commonly, the curry leaves are added to the preparations of meat and other curry dishes. When cooked, the dried leaves soften. Often, the leaves are sautéed in oil or butter before they are added to the dish. Dried or fresh curry leaves can be mixed with other spices, like turmeric, red chilli, and cumin seeds to achieve a brilliant blend for seasoning.