Curry Leaves – A single leaf and thousands of health benefits

For Kerala dishes, curry leaf is a staple item, and can’t be avoided at any cost. It’s named Kariveppila in Malayalam and Kadipatta in Hindi. It adds a traditional taste and odour to Kerala dishes, mostly side dishes. It’s widely used for seasoning dishes aside mustard seeds. When we see a curry leaf in our dish, we just take it out before eating. A few consider curry leaves to be a decorative item only. We just pretend to ignore the taste enhancement provided with this less-cost leafy item, while doing so.

It’s true, curry leaves either fried or not, enhances the look of the dish and gives it a traditional appeal too. Only a few people know the natural benefits given by curry leaves. Its benefits never end with enhancement of taste and smell. In fact it has many medicinal values. If used while preparing hair oil, it gives black colour to hair and prevents premature grey as well. It owns many more good qualities. In this column, let us list a few more.

Curry leaf tree is mostly grown in tropical areas, which needs enough warmth to grow and flourish. Hence it is very common in south India, the place close to equator. It’s cultivated in countries like China, Sri Lanka, Australia, Nigeria etc. Curry leaves own many health benefits, and if we eat it along with our diet, we will get at least a few of them. It also owns many medicinal qualities, and often used for natural remedies, hair oil etc.

A single leaf and thousands of health benefits

A single leaf and thousands of health benefits – That’s what our old generation say about curry leaves. It used to be an integral part of natural medicines and remedies prepared at home and ayurvedic physicians a few decades back, and each and every home used to have at least one curry leaf tree in their courtyard. But now it’s scarce to find this plant in urban areas, and everyone resort to purchase it from nearby super market and in most cases, sadly, they won’t get pesticide-free curry leaves. Curry leaf tree has already started disappearing from Kerala homes. Now, it’s very difficult to get curry leaves free of poisonous pesticides and other chemicals.

Chew a few curry leaves. It has the magical power to get rid of bad smell of your mouth. In short it is a natural mouth wash. In the climatic conditions of Kerala, it’s an easy grown tree, and why can’t we plant one at home so that we can get pesticide free curry leaves, good for family’s health?

Carbohydrates, fibers, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, copper etc are the major nutritious factors seen in leaves. It’s a good supplement of Vitamin – A, B, C, E, antioxidants, glycosides, amino acids, flavonoids, plant sterols etc.

Curry leaves are good for digestion

Curry leaves can positively affect the digestive system of human body. When curry leaves reach intestine along with other food items, it helps the digestion process a better way by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes. Curry leaves are also known for their magical power to get rid of the disturbance of worms in the intestine. It is very effective for digestive issues when served along with buttermilk and ginger. Crush or make a fine paste of ginger and curry leaves while preparing buttermilk for this purpose.

Curry leaves are effective for skin diseases

Curry leaves can get rid of different kinds of bacterial infections on skin, thus solving many of our skin problems. It also helps to reduce the black marks caused by chickenpox. It is possible because of the anti-bacterial nature of curry leaves. Make a fine paste of 20 curry leaves adding sufficient water and apply on the affected areas for a few days and see the difference. Wait for 30 minutes before you wash it off. It gives a solution to almost all skin infections. Juice of curry leaves is a good remedy to reduce the discomfort caused by insect bites.  Apply the juice on affected areas.

Curry leaves can improve vision

Curry leaf is abundant in Vitamin-A, which is good for the health of eyes. Carotenoids can protect the outer cornea, and it is found in Vitamin-A rich food items. Deficiency of vitamin-A can lead to night blindness, appearance of thin layer above cornea/vision etc. If the deficiency of this vitamin is very much high, it can even lead to blindness! If you include curry leaves in your diet on a daily basis, it improves vision a lot – studies say.

Curry leaves improve memory power

Researchers say, it you add curry leaves to your regular food items on daily basis, it can improve memory power. In an experiment conducted on rats, the results are indeed positive. Curry leaves have the magical power to reduce the intensity of the memory disease, Alzheimer’s.

Curry leaves for the protection of liver

Liver plays an important role in the functioning of liver. Curry leaves shield liver from the attack of free radicals, virus and bacteria. Tannins present in curry leaves and also carbazole alkaloids can also protect liver from diseases such as hepatitis.

Curry leaves are good for hair growth

Premature grey, hair loss and dandruff – all these are the common hair problems we go through, and curry leaf is an instant remedy for all these. Boil a few curry leaves in coconut oil. Once cooled, use it as hair oil on hair and scalp. It can stimulate hair growth. This hair oil can also naturally retain your hair colour, and no other hair oils available in the market can replace it for this quality.

Quick remedies with curry leaves in a snapshot

Reduces cholesterol – Make a fine paste of curry leaves in the early morning. Serve it as a lemon/aracanut sized ball in the early mornings with warm water. Curry leaves own the magical power to reduce cholesterol.

Remedy to lice and dandruff – Make a pine paste of seeds of curry plant and lemon juice. Apply it on hair scalp and wash it off after half an hour. It’s a good remedy to both lice and dandruff.

Remedy to allergies and skin diseases – For breathing problems due to allergies and skin problems, there is one homemade medicine. Make a fine paste of curry leaves and turmeric and make a gooseberry sized ball out of it. Serve it with warm water.

Remedy for dysentery, vomiting and gas troubles – Curry leaves give instant remedy to many digestive and intestine related problems. Crush well 30 gm curry leaves, 20 gm Kadukathod (skin of Kaduka) and 10 gm dried ginger together. Boil it well in 1 litre water to prepare Kashayam. Total contents should be reduced to 250 milli on boiling. Serve twice a day 100 milli each to get relief from these digestive disorders.

Remedy for grey hair – If you add a few curry leaves while preparing hair oil at home, it promotes hair growth and provides good black colour. It also prevents premature grey up to some extent.

To conclude

Malayalis can’t avoid curry leaves in daily diet. But in most cases, leaves available in market are not cultivated here. Instead they are transported from neighbouring states along with other vegetables and food items. To keep them fresh and green for long days, many chemicals and pesticides are sprinkled on them before being transported. When we buy curry leaves for cheap from market, or when vegetable vendor gives it as a ‘free gift’ along with other vegetables, we often forget that they are not safe to use. It’s also said that curry leaves contain maximum quantity of ‘poison’.

It’s always good to wash curry leaves properly before use, if we have brought them from market. Dip it for a while in water mixed with salt and turmeric before you use or store it in refrigerator for future use. You can also use vinegar or tamarind juice in the water used to wash curry leaves. Dip curry leaves in this water for some time. It can reduce the effect of pesticides to great extent.

Note: Though I have prepared this article based on the life style of Kerala people, people belonging to other parts of the world can also try it to know what magic a little curry leaf hides behind it.

Image source: Pixabay

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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