Curry Leaves, that quintessential aromatic ingredient, found in the Indian households have innumerable health and therapeutic benefits. This tree being indigenous to India, Srilanka and many South east Asian countries is known by several vernacular names such as Kadi Patta or Meetha Neem in Hindi, Kariveppilai in Tamil, Karivepaaku in Tamil or Karivempu in Malayalam.
Derived from the Tamil word “Kari” meaning spicy, curry leaves are mentioned in ancient Tamil scriptures dating back to the 4th century AD for its amazing benefits and culinary significance.
Curry tree, being a sub-tropical tree growing to a height of 4-6 m and having a medium sized trunk goes by the botanical name Murraya
The aromatic curry leaves are seen in the form of pairs on the branches of the tree. The plant produces small white flowers which can pollinate themselves and it produces small, black, shiny semi-globose fruits with a single large seed. Though the fruits are fleshy and edible, neither the flower nor the fruits are used for culinary purposes.
The leaves having an appearance similar to bay leaves but slightly smaller in size are also termed as Indian bay leaves. The aromatic scent of these leaves is due to the high content of essential volatile oils that get extracted through steam distillation method and this essential oil is used in healing skin disorders.
Curry leaves have a distinct bitter and pungent taste with acidic undertones. The leaves are not only sought after for their aromatic flavor in the foods, but also enhance the health benefits of the meal making it more appealing.
The leaves have found its way in many holistic treatments like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and traditional Chinese treatments for their medicinal properties in treating diabetes, diarrhea, gastro intestinal disorders etc. The extract from the curry leaves have an active constituent which is anti-diabetic in nature and hence are widely used for the treatment of diabetes. The paste from the dried grounded leaves also have anti-helminthic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which are potent against various infections and skin disorders.
In the primeval times, the curry leaf branches have played a significant role in good oral hygiene. The thin twigs or branches were used as a datun (i.e. natural brush) for cleaning the teeth, strengthening the teeth and gums and protecting them from harmful bacteria and air borne microbes. These days in modern ayurvedic treatments the powder of the leaves or the raw leaves are being used as tooth powder for preserving good oral health.
Curry leaves play a pivotal role in the field of weight loss. The leaves when eaten raw or consumed as juice, serves as a detox drink to cleanse body from within, burn fat, reduce bad cholesterol and enhance digestion. Taking curry leaves regularly is bound to show promising results.
Pluck 30-40 fresh curry leaves and add this magic drink to your daily regimen:
How to Make Curry Leaf Juice At Home:
30-40 freshly plucked curry leaves
10-15 dried mint leaves
3 cups of water
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp honey
Boil the water in a heavy bottomed container.
Add the curry leaves, mint leaves and cinnamon powder to it and boil for a few minutes.
Put off the flame and strain the entire concoction to remove any impurities and hard particles.
Add a dash of lime juice and honey to it.
Pour the juice in a glass and sip while it’s still warm.
Nutritious Benefit of Curry Leaf juice
This potent juice known for its weight loss properties consists of several natural healthy ingredients:
Packed with essential vitamins, carbohydrates, fibre and volatile oils, curry leaves play a vital role in controlling diabetes, treating heart problems, preventing infections and also providing beautiful hair and skin.
The presence of menthol in the mint leaves soothes skin, acts as a natural coolant, aids the stomach indigestion. It is effective against infections like cough and cold, reduces stress, prevents nausea and has proven beneficial for skin and hair.
Lemon being a rich source of Vitamin C is a potent ingredient for weight loss. It aids in digestion, prevents bad breath, promotes hydration in your body, relieves from kidney stones and is extremely beneficial for achieving a blemish-free healthy skin.
The addition of cinnamon to the curry leaf juice enhances the metabolic rate of the body which increases the weight loss process. It is effective in controlling the blood sugar levels in the body, improves digestion and other digestive issues. Traditionally, it has also gained significance in treating bronchial problems.
Honey is well known for its anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties. It facilitates healing, relieves pain, fights infections, reduces diarrhea and also provides relief from cough and cold. It is found effective in reducing obesity.
Curry Leaves, Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 108 Kcal
Protein 6.1 gm
Fiber 6.4 gm
Phosphorus 57 mg
Calcium 830 mg
Iron 0.93 mg
Magnesium 44 mg
Carotene 7560 µg
Riboflavin 0.210 mg
Niacin 2.3 mg
Vitamin C 4 mg
Folic Acid 23.5 µg
*Sources as per USDA
Benefits of Curry Leaves
Packed with a multitude of nutrients like carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, multivitamins and flavonoids, curry leaves are an arcade of health benefits. It is extensively used in the treatment of anemia, diabetes, indigestion, obesity, kidney problems, hair and skin problems.
1. High on Fiber:
Curry leaves are an excellent source of fiber. It improves our digestive health and regular bowel movements. It is helpful in treating diarrhea and nausea and also controls the blood glucose levels in the body.
2. Loaded with Proteins:
Curry leaves have a high concentration of proteins which are considered to be the building blocks of the body. It is pivotal for the proper growth and development of the body and strengthens our immune system.
3. Powerhouse of Calcium:
Calcium is widely known for its significance in improving bone health. Being a powerhouse of calcium, curry leaves are effective for strengthening the teeth and bones and preventing diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.
4. Rich in Phosphorus:
Being one of the major nutrients in curry leaves, phosphorus helps in cleansing the kidneys. It maintains a normal heartbeat, reduces painful muscle spasm after exercise and also strengthens the teeth and bones. At the cellular level, phosphorus is used for the growth and repair of cells and tissues.
Apart from the minerals and vitamins, curry leaves are a powerhouse to a number of volatile essential oils like α-pinene, sabinene, β-pinene, α-terpinene etc. These essential oils possess anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-dysenteric, carminative and digestive properties which are extremely beneficial for the hair, skin and oral health. It is also effective against hyperglycemia, high cholesterol and aids in digestion.
Therapeutic Benefits of Curry Leaves
1. Treats Diabetes:
The hypoglycemic property of the curry leaves plays a significant role in alleviating the blood sugar level of the body. The production of insulin from the pancreatic β-cells becomes active on the consumption of curry leaves. It helps in reducing the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels.
2. Prevents Anemia:
The deficiency of iron in the body causes anemia. Curry leaves having a high concentration of iron is extremely effective in increasing the hemoglobin and red blood cell count of the blood. It acts as a natural blood purifier, improves symptoms of tiredness and fatigue and reduce the chances of getting infections.
3. Good for Vision:
Curry leaves being abundant in Vitamin A and β-carotene play a vital role in improving eyesight and treating eye-related problems. It prevents the cornea from drying up and cloud formation in front of the eyes, thus reducing the chances of Xeropthalmia and night blindness.
4. Fights Infections:
The curry leaves have potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. So regular consumption of curry leaves shields our body against various infections and germs.
5. Boon for Weight Loss:
Curry leaves are considered a boon by people under a weight loss management program. The presence of carbazole alkaloids in the leaves prevents weight gain and reduces the LDL cholesterol (i.e. bad cholesterol) in the blood. It washes out the harmful toxins from the body and burns excess fat.
6. Aids in Digestion:
The high content of fiber in the leaves has proven to be beneficial in treating several gastrointestinal troubles. The carminative, digestive, antiemetic and anti-dysenteric properties of curry leave not only aids in digestion but also prevent constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, piles, nausea, bloating etc. Being a natural stimulant, it enhances the appetite.
7. Prevents Cancer:
Recent researches suggest that the presence of phenols and carbazole alkaloids are extremely effective in treating and preventing prostate and colorectal cancers.
8. Dental Care:
Curry leaves have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties that are extremely effective in maintaining good oral health. The essential oils present in the leaves strengthen the gum and teeth, removes bad odor and protects the teeth and gum from any foreign microbes and infections.
More Reasons Why You Should Never Throw Curry Leaves Away
Although the humble curry leaves have a wealth of healthful nutrients including protein, fiber, calcium, vitamins and minerals, and spectacular properties, quite often we tend to throw it away. Here are a few more reasons, why it should probably be a part of the daily dietary regimen and should be consumed alongside the food prepared using it.
Promotes Cardiac Functioning
The abundance of high amounts of an alkaloid called mahanimbine in curry leaves makes it extremely beneficial for the heart and plays a pivotal role in treating a host of heart ailments. It relaxes the cardiac system, by calming the mind, which is beneficial for patients suffering from arrhythmias and palpitations. Regular intake of curry leaves imparts heart-healthy properties by strengthening the heart muscles, lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and preventing lipid build-up, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, heart blocks, blood clots, etc.
Improves Cognitive Abilities
Since long back these mighty leaves offer a traditional remedy to increase the functioning of the brain. The presence of bioactive components prevents the breakdown of brain chemicals including glutathione reductase (GRD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) that are needed for enhancing the memory. Hence it helps improve memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Being a potent brain tonic and stimulator, people including curry leaves in their daily diet or consuming other formulations have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities and are thus used for treating Alzheimer’s and other psychotic conditions like dementia.
Treats Respiratory Problems:
Imbued with potent anti-bacterial and expectorant properties, curry leaves are highly significant for quite a few respiratory problems. It helps clear mucus and rheum deposits from the nasal passage and provides relief from chest congestion. The soothing nature of this leaf plays a quintessential role in treating dry, irritated throat. It also serves as a potent remedy for sinus, headache, asthma, bronchitis, and pharyngitis.
Curry Leaves in Ayurveda and Supplements
Ayurveda mentions curry leaves as Girinimba or Krishnanimba, entitled after Lord Krishna, the God of Protection in several ancient scriptures. The essential oil extracted from the leaves of the curry leaf tree is widely employed in this traditional holistic healing for the treatment of hair and skin problems, diabetes, eye problem, dental problem, diarrhea etc.
The curry leaves have Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) properties. It is blessed with all the trigunas i.e. Laghu (light), Rukhsha(dry) and Tikshna (sharp). It has Ushna Virya (hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (pungent metabolic property). It aggravates the Pitta doshas (digestion) and pacifies Vata (air) and Kapha (earth and water) doshas.
The richness of antioxidants and nutrients in these leaves work wonders in giving one a lustrous long hair. It treats damaged hair, strengthens the hair roots, prevents hair fall and also treats dandruff. It is also a natural aid for premature greying of hair.
How To Make Curry Leaf Hair Oil At Home:
1 lt cold pressed pure coconut oil
1 medium sized onion (peeled)
1 bowl of bhringaraj leaves
6 medium sized cloves of garlic (peeled)
1 bowl of kadi patta (curry leaves)
1-2 tbsp soaked methi seeds
Wash both the leaves thoroughly under water and let it dry.
In a mixer, add the washed onion, garlic cloves, methi seeds, Bhringaraj and curry leaf and grind them without water till it becomes a smooth paste .
Take the oil in an iron vessel (preferably kadhai) and add the paste to it.
Boil the oil along with the paste for 10-15 minutes.
Simmer the flame and let the oil to become dark but not black.
Switch off the flame, keep it aside and let the mixture cool overnight.
In the morning, strain the mixture properly to extract the oil and store it in a glass bottle.
Benefits of the Hair Oil
The oil acts like a magic potion in giving one a beautiful mane. It rejuvenates hair follicles, stimulates the growth of hair, repairs damaged roots, strengthens the hair, prevents hair fall and premature greying.
Since the oil has a pungent smell, addition of an essential oil while applying it to your hair will not only nourishes the hair but also adds a beautiful fragrance to your hair.
Rejuvenation of Skin:
Curry leaves being a powerhouse of antioxidants and Vitamin C is extremely beneficial in providing a beautiful healthy skin. It protects the skin from tanning.
Boil 30-40 fresh curry leaves in coconut oil and store for later use. Add few drops of curry leaf oil to 2-3 drops of jojoba oil and massage your skin regularly, to prevent wrinkles, reduce dark circles and other signs of aging. Addition of few drops of curry leaf oil to your regular skin care regime can prevent infections associated with pimples, acne and boils.
Other Uses of Curry Leaf Oil:
- The pure curry leaf oil having anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can be used to reduce inflammation and pain from insect bites and bee stings.
- Add 2 drops of curry leaf oil in a cup of warm water and gargle to strengthen your teeth, prevent teeth and gum infections and acquire a refreshing breath.
- Massage 2-3 drops of pure curry leaf oil with few drops of olive oil to reduce swelling and inflammation on various parts of the body and get instant relief.
Other Traditional Uses
Curry Leaf Churna / Powder :
Dry 2-3 bowls of freshly plucked curry leaves under direct sun. Grind them without water. Sieve the powder to remove any hard particles or impurities and store for later use.
Consuming one spoonful of this powder with water daily on empty stomach can cause wonders in naturally treating your diabetes and reducing your blood sugar level.
- 1 spoon of curry leaf powder added to the buttermilk can be consumed to get relief from gastro-intestinal troubles.
- 1 teaspoon of the powder or the decoction of the dry bark consumed with water regularly reduces nausea and vomiting.
- Powder from the dried roots of the curry tree is believed to relieve kidney disorders.
Curry leaves being a staple food crop in India is an extremely essential ingredient found in almost all Indian households. The aromatic flavour and high nutritional benefit make this leaf an amazing spice which can be relished as different cuisines.
We bring you three healthy and easy recipes from both the South and North Indian kitchens:
Curry Leaf Recipe
Curry Leaf Rice
2 cups cooked rice
10-15 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp urad dal
½ tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
½ tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee
Few cashew nuts
Salt as per taste
Take a small kadhai, add 1 tbsp of oil and warm.
Add the cumin seeds, black pepper, urad dal and few curry leaves and fry them for a few seconds.
Put off the flame, cool the mixture and grind them into a fine powder.
In a separate kadhai, put 1 tbsp of ghee and add the cashew nuts and curry leaves to it.
Fry them slightly, then add the cooked rice and curry leaf powder to it.
Simmer the flame, mix the ingredients gently and cook it for few minutes.
Your delicious curry leaf rice is ready to be savored.
Curry leaf rice is a well-known South Indian recipe. The addition of curry leaves to your regular rice not only adds flavour and aroma to it but also increases the nutritional value of the meal, while presence of cumin and black pepper aids in digestion and improves blood cholesterol.
Tomato Curry Leaf Chutney
4-5 medium-sized tomatoes finely chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 sprig coriander (dhania) leaves (finely chopped)
3 green chillies (finely chopped)
½ tbsp cumin seeds
½ tbsp turmeric powder (haldi)
Black salt as per taste
1 pinch of jaggery powder
Wash the curry and coriander leaves and keep them aside.
Put oil in the kadhai and warm it.
Add the cumin seeds, and slightly saute them.
Add the remaining ingredients like tomato, curry and coriander leaves, green chilli and turmeric powder to it.
Add salt and sugar to it
Saute the entire thing under low flame until the tomatoes turn mushy and its raw smell goes away.
Remove it from the flame and cool the mixture.
Once it cools, blend the mixture till it becomes a smooth thick paste.
Store the chutney and enjoy it with a variety of food items.
This delicious chutney has earned a name in most North Indian kitchens. The blend of fresh tomato, curry and coriander leaves is highly beneficial in providing numerous heath benefits to the body, while addition of jaggery makes this chutney a diabetic friendly recipe but can also be enjoyed by healthy folks.
Curry leaves, a deep green aromatic staple in South Indian cooking is also known as sweet neem and abound in medicinal properties. A steaming hot tea of sweet neem is commonly consumed on an empty stomach at dawn, to aid in weight loss.
30-40 curry leaves
1 ½ cups of water
1 tbsp honey
A few drops of lemon juice
Boil the water on high flame and transfer it into a container.
Allow the curry leaves to thoroughly soak in hot water for a few hours.
Now, filter the tea and separate it from the curry leaves using a strainer.
Mix the honey and lemon juice for added flavor.
Curry leaves are instilled with a potent alkaloid called mahanimbine, which functions to prevent accumulation of fats and burn calories at a fast pace. Honey and lemon comprise many valuable antioxidants, which remove toxins from the body and improve metabolism.
Like any other natural ingredient, Curry leaves too exhibit certain side effects. It may cause severe allergic reactions hence, it should not be consumed by people with asthmatic conditions or an allergy towards pollen. It is advisable not to consume the small pods of the curry leaf tree as it is known to be toxic in nature.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Curry Leaves Can You Eat In A Daily Basis?
On an average, it is okay to have around 10-15 curry leaves in a day. You can easily avail the numerous health benefits of this humble leaf by consuming it raw, as a decoction by boiling in water, as a juice, or adding it while tempering curries.
Are Curry Leaves Beneficial For The Liver?
Imbued with antioxidants like kaempferol, Curry leaves help protect the liver from harmful toxins and oxidative stress. It also shields the liver from free radical attacks and readily combats viral or bacterial attacks, which can contribute to unnecessary infections.
Is Curry Powder and Curry Leaf Same?
Well, Curry powder is not the same as curry leaves. While the leaves come from the plant and have a characteristic flavour that separates it distinctly from other spices, the powder on the other hand is a mixture of different spices like cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, etc.
Can Curry Leaves Help Prevent Nausea And Morning Sickness?
Yes, indeed, Curry leaves extensively help prevent nausea and morning sickness. Owing to its Deepana (appetizing property) in Ayurveda, curry leaves help remedy indigestion, promote bowel movements and also improves other gastrointestinal functions.
Can You Eat Curry Leaves On An Empty Stomach?
Curry Leaves can be taken at any time during the day but taking it on empty stomach has manifold benefits. It is especially pivotal for better digestive health as it activates the digestive enzymes, facilitates bowel movement and alleviates constipation. Additionally, consumption of curry leaves on empty stomach helps in burning excess fat and promotes weight loss.