Apart from culinary uses, the leaves are also used in Ayurvedic and herbal medicines. These aromatic leaves are a rich source of vitamins A, B, C and B2, calcium, protein, amino acids, phosphorous, fiber and iron.
However, the health benefits of curry leaves are mostly due to the alkaloids they contain. They also have antioxidant, antibacterial, insecticidal, anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial and antidiabetic properties.
Because of this nutritional profile, the leaves have been used in folklore medicine to treat several health problems.
You can use these leaves raw or in dried form. Even curry leaf essential oil is available in the market.
Here are the top 10 amazing health benefits of curry leaves.
1. Keeps Diabetes in Check
If you have diabetes and want to keep your blood sugar level under control in a natural way, include curry leaves in your diet.
By doing so, you can protect and stimulate insulin-producing pancreatic cells. This will lower your blood sugar.
In addition, the leaves influence carbohydrate metabolism and also reduce the risk of oxidative stress.
A 2006 study published in Pharmazie, an International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, found that curry leaves can reduce blood glucose levels. However, this study was done on diabetic mice (1).
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Food and Nutritional Sciences highlights the hypoglycemic properties of curry leaf powder in controlling the fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels among diabetics (2).
Chew a few tender curry leaves daily in the morning on an empty stomach.
You can also add curry leaf powder to your soups or salads.
2. Lowers LDL Cholesterol
LDL (low-density lipoproteins) or bad cholesterol can be lowered by consuming curry leaves on a daily basis.
Being rich in antioxidants, curry leaves prevent the oxidation of cholesterol that forms LDL (bad cholesterol). The leaves also help increase the level of HDL (high-density lipoproteins) or good cholesterol. This in turn protects you from conditions like heart disease and atherosclerosis, which can cause early death.
A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine reports that the carbazole alkaloids in curry leaves, particularly mahanimbine, work against weight gain and reduce total body cholesterol. The study was done on obese rats (3).
Munch on dried curry leaves as snack or add fresh leaves to salads, stews or soups. However, when it comes to lowering your cholesterol level, do not ignore the importance of exercise.
3. Eliminates Free Radicals
Curry leaves are rich in carbazole alkaloids, which have antioxidative properties. These properties work to protect your body’s cells from damage caused by oxidants, which are free radicals that play a major role in disease formation.
curry leaves eliminate free radical damage
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2003 indicates that curry leaves are a good source of antioxidants (4).
Including curry leaves in your diet will help prevent aging and different chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
4. Encourages Weight Loss
If you are struggling with weight loss, you have another reason to add curry leaves to your diet plan.
First of all, the leaves help cleanse the body and remove harmful toxins in the form of excretory wastes along with urine and feces.
Secondly, the leaves help burn unwanted fat and carbohydrates.
A 2006 study done on obese rats showed that the carbazole alkaloids in curry leaves, particularly mahanimbine, work against weight gain and reduce total body cholesterol. The study was published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine (5).
5. Heals Wounds
Curry leaves can accelerate the process of healing wounds, cuts and burns.
Curry leaves have antioxidant and antibacterial properties that not only accelerate healing but also reduce the risk of infections.
Plus, they help reduce the pain. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research suggests that curry leaves are rich in anti-inflammatory properties (6).
A paste made from raw curry leaves can be applied on wounds, rashes and burns, several times a day.
6. Stimulates Hair Growth
Curry leaves also help strengthen hair roots. In addition, there are several nutrients in the leaves that can help repair damaged hair roots.
In particular, the vitamin B6 in them aids in regulating the hormones to prevent hair loss.
You can mix a little curry leaf powder in your hair oil and massage it onto your scalp. Leave it on overnight, then wash your hair the next morning. Do this 2 or 3 times a week to notice improvement in hair growth.
Alternatively, put a handful of the curry leaves in 1 cup of yogurt and blend them. Apply this mask on your hair and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Wash your hair with lukewarm water. Use this hair mask once a week.
7. Treats Premature Hair Graying
Premature gray hair is a common problem nowadays. To deal with it, you can use curry leaves. Curry leaves help increase darker pigmentation in your hair.
When combined with coconut oil, curry leaves work as a great hair tonic. Heat a handful of fresh curry leaves in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil until they become charred. Strain the oil. Massage it into your hair. Leave it on for 30 to 45 minutes before rinsing it out. Use this treatment at least once or twice a week.
Alternatively, crush a few curry leaves to make a paste and apply it on your scalp. After 30 minutes, wash it off with plain water. Do this once a week.
8. Benefits Gastrointestinal Health
Whether you suffer from diarrhea, constipation, gas or abdominal pain, you can always bet on curry leaves.
Curry leaves are good for the overall digestive system. They work as a mild laxative, which means they help regulate bowel movements. They also stimulate digestive enzymes to keep the digestive system in good condition.
Mix 1 teaspoon of curry power into a glass of buttermilk. Drink it on an empty stomach once a day.
Alternatively, eat raw, tender curry leaves on an empty stomach once a day.
9. Reduces Stress
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but you must try to control it. It can cause potentially serious physical and mental health problems.
When it comes to stress, curry leaves are very helpful. The calming effect of the fragrance from the leaves can calm your mind and body.
This is one reason why curry leaf essential oil is used in aromatherapy to treat anxiety and depression.
Put 2 or 3 drops of curry leaf essential oil on your pillowcase before you go to sleep.
Alternatively, you can put a few drops of the essential oil in your bathwater and enjoy a soothing bath for 30 minutes to reduce stress.
10. Relieves Morning Sickness
If you are in your first trimester of pregnancy and suffering from general queasiness, then you must definitely give curry leaves a try.
Curry leaves increase digestive secretions and thereby help reduce nausea, vomiting and morning sickness. Also, the aroma of curry leaves helps a lot.
Extract 1 to 2 teaspoons of juice from fresh curry leaves and put it in a bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and a pinch of jaggery.
Mix thoroughly and consume it to deal with morning sickness.
Use as needed.
Not just morning sickness, you can try this remedy if you are feeling queasiness due to menstrual problems, motion sickness or gonorrhea.