The Murraya koenigii or the curry leaf plant is said to have originated in the Tarai region of Uttar Pradesh in India. It was introduced to the South of India by the Dravidians who moved south after the arrival of the Aryans from Persia. Today it forms a very important part of the cuisine of South India to flavour dishes. It is also used in Siddha medicine to cure various ailments.
Medicinal benefits of curry leaves
The plant has been extensively used in traditional medicines in Eastern Asia. The leaves, branches, and roots are used as medicine. The essential oil extracted from the leaves and seeds has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. They are therefore beneficial for the skin, hair, eyes, and blood. The plant is considered stomachic (aiding digestion and promoting appetite) and carminative (relieving flatulence). The root and bark are also used for medicine as they are considered to be a stimulant. The fruit is said to have astringent properties. It is used to cure piles, allay heat of the body, thirst, inflammation, and itching. The plants possess anti-inflammatory properties and hence could be a good anti-inflammatory drug.
Health Benefits Of Curry Leaves
An article in the ‘International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Phytopharmacological Research’ says that, “A scrutiny of the literature reveals some notable pharmacological activities of the plant such as activity on heart, Antidiabetic and cholesterol-reducing property, antimicrobial activity, antiulcer activity, antioxidative property, cytotoxic activity, anti-diarrhea activity, phagocytic activity.”
Curry Leaves Health Benefits for Hair
The amino acids and antioxidants in curry leaves help in strengthening the hair follicles, thereby reducing hair fall and stimulating hair growth. The leaves nourish the hair roots. Curry leaves are known to be effective in preventing premature greying of hair. It gives rise to healthier hair roots with normal pigment, according to Dr. Jitendra Arya, in his book ‘Food is your Medicine’. He also says that the leaves can be consumed “in the form of a chutney, or the juice may be squeezed and taken in buttermilk or lassi.” for hair growth.
Health benefit for diabetes
Curry leaf extract helps to decrease blood cholesterol and blood glucose level. An article in the BBC says, ‘researchers found extracts from the curry-leaf tree appeared to restrict the action of a digestive enzyme called pancreatic alpha-amylase which is involved in the breakdown of dietary starch to glucose.
A patient with diabetes does not produce enough insulin to cope with rapid rises in blood glucose levels. Slowing the rate of starch breakdown, by blocking alpha-amylase, can lead to a more even trickle of glucose into the bloodstream from the intestine.’
Curry Leaves Health Benefits for Cholesterol
Animal studies have shown that extracts of curry leaves help lower triglycerides and cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties help increase good cholesterol and thus protect you from heart disease.
In a study where 21 plant species were screened for antibacterial activity against multi-resistant bacterial isolates, the curry leaf plant showed maximum antibacterial activity. The bacteria S. epidermidis was significantly inhibited by it.
Antioxidant benefits of curry leaves
Mahanimbine and koenigine, two carbazole alkaloids, isolated from the leaves of the curry leaf plant showed antioxidant activity. Koenigine also has a high degree of radical scavenging properties.
Carbazole alkaloids from the stem of the curry leaf plant are said to inhibit the growth of human leukemia cell lines. They are said to be active against leukemia and colon cancer cell lines. The plant also has significant anti-tumor activity.
Other Benefits of Curry Leaves
The steam distillate of the leaves is reported to exhibit antifungal and insecticidal activities. The juice of the berries (fruits of curry leaf tree) mixed with an equal amount of lime juice is an effective remedy to apply on insect stings and bites. Curry leaves is also good for burns, bruises, and skin eruptions. The leaves should be applied as a poultice over the affected area. Consuming curry leaves after delivering a baby is said to increase lactation. It also is a mild laxative.
Curry leaves are rich in vitamin A, and as such helps protect the eyes. It helps to prevent loss of vision. It keeps the liver healthy and protects it from infections. It also helps fight anaemia, as it is a good source of iron and folic acid. Curry leaves may also help in weight loss by regulating the digestive process and eliminating toxins from the body.
Home remedies with curry leaves
- Curry leaf juice is good for digestion and to control acidity. A decocotion of curry leaf root and ginger is beneficial for stomach ache. Curry paste leaf mixed with buttermilk is very effective for a stomach upset.
- Curry leaf juice with cardamom powder is said to be a home remedy for urinary problems.
- The green leaves eaten raw helps people with dysentry and the infusion of washed leaves stops vomiting.
- The branches of the plant can be used as a brush to clean teeth as they strengthen the gums.
- Adding curry leaf powder to lemon juice with a little jaggery is a natural home remedy to control morning sickness.
- Dried curry leaves consumed with hot water or milk helps to cure chronic anaemia.
- The leaves are applied to bruises and eruptions on the skin for quick cure. They should be applied as a poultice on the affected areas.
- Mixture of curry leaf paste and fresh turmeric rhizome is a very effective home remedy for allergies due to respiratory problems.
- Add curry leaves to your hair oil and boil it for a few minutes till it becomes a blackened residue. This is a good hair tonic and helps hair growth and premature greying.
- Curry leaves ground to a fine paste, and mixed with buttermilk and consumed on an empty stomach is an excellent home remedy for stomach upsets.