Surprising Health Benefits of Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are a natural seasoning, used in most parts of India and Asia. With their distinctive aroma and essence, they enhance the flavor of spices and condiments in most dishes. No curry is complete without them, especially in Southern India. However, most often, they are discarded from the plate as waste. Nonetheless, this simple and neglected ingredient hosts several therapeutic and nutritional benefits, favourable for optimal health.
Curry leaves botanically known as Murraya Koenigii belongs to the family of Rutaceae. Popularly known as curry leaves they are commonly referred to as ‘Meetha Neem’ or ‘Kari Patta‘. With their roots in India, they have their presence in other places such as Ceylon, China, Nigeria and Australia as well. The tree grows to a height of three to six feet tall bearing tiny white flowers producing radiant black pulpy single seeded berries.
The traditional system of Ayurveda and Unani medicines make use of various parts of the Murraya Koenigii for treating several disorders. The most commonly used parts of the tree for therapeutic uses are the leaves, bark and root possessing antibacterial and antifungal compounds. In some cases the ripe berries too prove useful.
The flavoursome leaves contain fibre, protein, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamin C, nicotinic acid and carotene. They also possess huge quantities of oxalic acid, crystalline Glycosides, carbazole alkaloids, koenigin and resin. Besides these, the fresh leaves hold a yellowish volatile oil consisting of ample amounts of calcium and vitamin A, including girinimbin, iso-mahanimbin, koenine,koenigine, koenidine,koenimbine,Mahanimbicine, bicyclomahanibicine, phebalosin, coumarine and as murrayone imperatox in individual leaves.
The Bark contains carbazole alkaloids as murrayazoline, Mahanimbine, girinimbine, koenioline, xynthyletin.
Health Benefits of curry leaves (kari patta)
1. Antioxidant Activity
Curry leaves possessing a couple of carbazole alkaloids namely Mahanimbine and koenigine provide potent antioxidant substances that scavenge the detrimental free radical elements, thereby reducing oxidative stress in the body
2. Digestive Health
The presence of carbase alkaline in the herb offer anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects that alleviates stomach upsets, flatulence, gas, propels digestion, stimulates appetite and expels waste. Ingesting curry leaves with honey resolves problems like diarrhoea and dysentery. When taken with buttermilk they strengthen the digestive system improve function and act as an effective laxative relieving constipation.
3. Liver Function
A potent antioxidant element, curry leaves profuse with combinations of kaempiferol, vitamins C and A strengthens and stimulates liver function. Besides this, the herb gets rid of harmful toxins from the body caused due to free radical damage.
4. Anti Diabetic Agent
Curry leaves are an excellent source to manage non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. This is because the leaf extract has an inhibiting effect on pancreatic Alpha-amylase, a digestive enzyme responsible for breakdown of starch to glucose. These restrictive tendencies enhance insulin secretion and stabilize the conversion ratio of starch to sugar. Therefore chewing fresh curry leaves first thing in the morning everyday controls blood glucose levels.
5. Cardiac Protection
According to several studies curry leaves have the ability to stabilise blood cholesterol levels. They increase the HDL cholesterol while lowering the LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. Increased levels of LDL cholesterol are a precursor for cardiac ailments and atherosclerosis, a condition caused due to excessive fatty deposits clogging the arterial walls. Furthermore, the antioxidant in curry leaves combat the free radical elements alleviating cardiac related diseases and stroke. Taking curry leaves mixed with curd regularly helps stabilise blood cholesterol levels, promoting optimal health.
6. Chemotherapy effects
Curry leaves avert the painful side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They protect the bone marrow and safeguard the chromosomes from any damages.
7. Pathogen attack
Being a natural antioxidant with antibacterial, an antimicrobial and antifungal effect, curry leaves prevent the attack of disease-causing pathogens from invading the body.
8. Haemoglobin levels
A rich source of iron and folic acid, curry leaves or kari patta are an excellent property to improve haemoglobin levels in the body. Folic acid elements are one of the major factors responsible for effective absorption of iron and for transporting iron and oxygen throughout the body. Hence taking a few curry leaves with dates everyday helps relieve symptoms of anaemia.
9. Morning Sickness
The healthy constituents in the leaves help relieve queasiness and vomiting caused by Morning sickness during pregnancy. Consuming curry leaves extract with a dash of lime and sugar eases this condition.
10. Vision Health
Profuse with Carotenoid Vitamin A substances, the herb prevents the occurrences of eye and vision related problems such as cataracts, cloudy vision, dry eye syndrome, Age related macular degeneration, night blindness and vision loss.
Skincare Benefits of curry leaves
With anti-inflammatory properties, curry leaves are very effective cure for skin related problems. They make an excellent cure for insect bites, heat boils, acne scars, pigmentation, sunburns, skin eruptions, bruises and burns. For treating bruises and heat rashes, boil milk along with meetha neem and apply the same on the affected parts of the skin. Apply curry leaves paste with turmeric for acne marks and scars for effective results. For an instant face pack, combine dried curry leaves and Fullers Earth with rosewater to form a paste and apply on the face to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles and to improve complexion. The berries of the tree provide contain astringent properties and when combined with lime juice acts as a quick remedy for poisonous insect stings and bites.
Hair Care benefits of curry leaves or meetha neem
One of the time-tested remedies for hair care, curry leaves are an excellent treatment for dry hair dandruff and premature greying. Besides this, they also rejuvenate the hair follicles, stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Massaging the hair roots with coconut oil boiled with a handful of curry leaves alleviates hair related problems and promotes thick hair growth keeping premature greying at bay.
Last but not the least a surprise bonus from this humble herb is that they enables weight loss. So next time you see curry leaves on the plate do not throw them away but ensure you have them regularly to keep you in good health and shape.