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Curry Leaves

Curraya koenigi or curry patta

curry-leaf

Curry plant

Curry leaves grow on a small shrub commonly found in backyards or gardens around Indian houses. The leaves are the edible part and they are shiny, dark green, aromatic and slightly bitter in taste. As the colloquial name suggests, these leaves are one of the ingredients of Indian curries, cooked vegetables, salads, chutneys and spices. They add to the smell and taste of food and in addition to the food value. Although the leaves are added to Indian dishes as a natural flavoring agent, it is well known that they have some medicinal value as well.

Curry leaves improve functioning of the stomach and small intestine and promote their action. They improve the quality of digestive juices secreted during digestion. Their action starts with intake. Their smell, taste and visual impression initiates salivary secretion and initiates the peristaltic wave, which is the first step in good digestion. They are mildly laxative and thus can tackle multiple digestive problems caused by food intake. They are directly added to food or an extract in the form of juice is added to buttermilk and consumed at the end of lunch/dinner. In case of a digestive upset, buttermilk enriched with the paste of curry leaves, common salt and cumin seed powder is recommended. This combination is also useful in problems such as loss of appetite, tastelessness of mouth as in case of fever etc. where food intake is a problem. Curry leaves are one of the important ingredients of herbal tonics and are parallel to digestive enzymatic tonics in allopathy.

A paste of these leaves with limejuice and honey/sugar/crystal sugar powder is a time-tested medicine in the treatment of hyperemesis graviderum. Nausea, dry vomiting, vomiting and food intolerance are few other conditions where this paste is used as a remedy. Curry leaves have some role in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery and idiopathic loose motions though they are not antidiarrheal in the true sense. Fresh juice/ a paste of fresh leaves/a teaspoonful of powdered dried leaves /a mixture of curry leaves, coriander, mint leaves, etc. is a commonly known home made remedy.

Certain ayurvedic research says that curry leaves have some role in controlling non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. People with DM due to obesity or heredity should try this treatment. A paste of about 8 to 10 fresh, fully-grown curry leaves is to be taken on an empty stomach in the morning for a minimum of 3 months for desired results. Many people have also reported weight loss, which is an additional benefit in diabetic people.

The bark or root of this plant also has medicinal properties. One ayurvedic school recommends powdered root/bark for relief from kidney/biliary pain. Traditional healers have observed some effects on premature graying of hair. Regular intake of these leaves with buttermilk is advised. Few have tried curry leaves for treatment of minor burns, bruises, abrasions, etc. and claim benefits of the treatment. More clinical trials are necessary to prove effectiveness. Traditional healers in villages use these leaves with a few other medicinal leaves for the treatment of insect bites and claim desired results. In this treatment, these are applied externally in poultice form.

In general, curry leaves are used confidently in daily cooking without the advice of a medical practitioner. They are food ingredients as well as medicinal ingredients. They add to taste and have digestive properties. They have some role in the management of diabetes, but this needs further research.

Curry Leaves For Hair Growth:

redheadCurry leaves are rich in protein and beta-carotene which help to reduce hair loss which can occur due to a lack of key proteins. Curry leaves are also rich in antioxidants, they provide moisture to the scalp, help to remove dead scalp follicles and prevent dandruff.

The fatty acids in coconut oil bind with the hair proteins and protect the hair strands from root to tip and prevent breakage. It seals the moisture in hair by penetrating through the hair shaft and provides protection against pollution and heat.

  1. To Make A Hair Tonic 1:
    Take half cup of coconut oil (depending on the length of your hair). Add 7 to 8 fresh curry leaves to it and gently boil.

    • Don’t burn the leaves; just bring them to a boil until you see a black residue forming in the pan.
    • After the residue is formed, let it cool and massage it directly onto your scalp.
    • Leave this mixture on your head for about an hour and then wash off with a mild shampoo.
    • Apply this as a tonic twice a week and you will see the difference in just fifteen days.
    • This mixture will help in hair growth and also fight grey hair.
  2. To Make A Hair Tonic 2:
    • Take some curry leaves and make a paste (5 - 10 depending on how much hair you have).
    • Now mix this paste with natural unsweetened yoghurt and massage it on your scalp.
    • Keep this mixture on for around 20-25 minutes and then wash off with a mild shampoo.
    • Apply this mask every week religiously to see an improvement in hair growth.
    • Besides increasing hair growth, this hair mask will also make your hair shiny, smooth and bouncy.
  3. Make a curry leaf tea!
    • Boil some curry leaves in water, squeeze a lime and add some sugar to it.
    • Drink this tea daily for 1 week to see results.
    • This will increase hair growth, make your hair smooth and shiny, and prevent gray hairs.

Regular intake of curry leaves is good for the digestive system as well as resolving hair problems.

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

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