Popularly termed as “Vanilla Of The East”, Pandan leaves are the intensely green pigmented foliage of the Pandanus amaryllifolius plant, that emanate a pleasant musky scent, being used in cooking, colouring, packaging food, predominantly in Asian and Indian cuisine. They are available as fresh or frozen leaves and also sold as finely grounded pastes, crushed powders in stores and markets. Pandan is the common vernacular term in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and goes by various local names, such as “Annapoorna leaves” in India, “Rampe” in Sri Lanka, “Pulao Paata” in Bangladesh. Boasting an array of valuable nutrients and contributing tremendous health merits, pandan is utilised in preparing a multitude of recipes such as biryani, kheer, spicy coconut gravies, cakes, jams, juices and cocktails. It is also widely used as a food colouring to impart bright green shades to sweet, savoury dishes, as well as bequeathing a pleasant aroma, enticing taste to jasmine rice, basmati rice delicacies of pulao, biryani and nasi lemak. The latter is an appetizing ubiquitous fare in Malaysia, Singapore, made with pandan leaves, jasmine rice and lemongrass.
A highly restorative medicinal herb ideal for external and internal use, pandan is touted by the archaic Ayurvedic manuscripts to remedy myriad ailments including hypertension, gout, scalp infections, fevers and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Overflowing with the goodness of vitamins, minerals, as well as ameliorating antioxidants including phenols, glycosides and kaempferol, the supremely beneficial pandan shrub thrives in tropical South and South-East Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Possessing a sweet almond nutty taste with a tinge of raw leafy, delightful vanilla and subtle coconut-like flavours, pandan tenders valuable anticancer, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, balances the vata doshas, aptly justifying the time-tested adage of “Food Is Medicine”. Dive into this article, to gain insight into the plethora of health benefits, ayurvedic usage of pandan leaves.
Pandan Leaves Effect On Doshas:
Pandan leaves exhibit an inherently Madhura rasa i.e. sweet taste, with a slightly bitter and pungent – Tikta and Katu palate. They portray impressive gunas or qualities of Laghu, being quick to digest and Snigdha or very smooth gel, easy to ingest. They have a Katu Vipaka i.e. piquant taste post digestion and a Sheeta Veerya i.e. cooling potential. Moreover, pandan leaves exemplify a rather useful Vata Shamaka, wherein they pacify the exacerbated vata doshas and help maintain tridoshic balance of vata, pitta and kapha in the body.
Health Benefits Of Pandan Leaves:
Treats High BP
Pandan leaves contain ample amounts of potassium, that regulates electrolyte balance in the body and effectively brings down elevated blood pressure levels to the normal, healthy range. Imbued with numerous polyphenol antioxidants, pandan leaves have powerful antihypertensive properties, to mend instances of hypertension.
Steep a few pandan leaves in boiling water, add some honey and lemongrass and consume this pandan tea once daily to keep blood pressure under control and augment heart wellness.
Enhances Respiratory Functions
Blessed with expectorant traits, pandan leaves work wonders in ridding the nasal, lung passages of phlegm and other unwanted secretions, to instantly remedy cold, heal fevers and improve respiratory health, as well as lung and breathing functions. They also contain antipyretic and antiviral properties, to cure fevers, seasonal allergies and boost immunity.
Add pandan leaf powder or paste to routine meals and consume daily, for treating fevers, cough and cold.
Manages Diabetes Symptoms
Abounding in glycosides, pandan leaves positively influence glucose metabolism and insulin functions in the body, thus preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels post meals and keeping diabetes symptoms in check.
Mix 2 tsp of pandan leaf powder to a glass of boiling water and drink this potion once daily, for significant relief from raised blood sugar levels and helping manage diabetes.
Cures Itchy Scalp
Loaded with antifungal characteristics, pandan leaves are highly efficient in warding off dandruff and other infections on the scalp, thereby soothing the hair and lessening itching sensation on the scalp.
Mash 10 – 12 fresh pandan leaves into a thick paste, mix with ½ cup of lukewarm water and apply an even layer on the scalp. Wrap it with a towel and let it stay for 30 minutes. Then rinse off with water, for strong, silky, thick hair sans dandruff and scalp irritation.
Relieves Joint Pain
Pandan leaves are a natural source of potent anti-inflammatory agents, that when applied topically on aching bones, muscles, joints, miraculously heal all forms of cramps, swelling and improve the mobility and flexibility of connective tissues.
Massaging the oil extracted from pandan leaves onto painful areas on joints, muscles vastly reduces aching, swelling in arthritis, gout and promotes bone strength and health.
The ideal dosage of pandan leaves for bolstered immunity and metabolism is 2 tsp of the leaf powder, added to foods or drinks and consumed once daily.
For specific health anomalies of hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions, consult with a certified Ayurvedic practitioner to consume the accurate and appropriate dosage of pandan leaves for medicinal purposes.
In most instances, pandan leaves do not present any side effects when taken in moderate doses.
People with kidney problems must not ingest pandan leaves regularly, as it causes nausea, indigestion and hampers renal health.