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Herbs > Ayurvedic Herbs and their Healing Power > Curry Leaves
By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

The colloquial name for curry leaves is curry patta and its botanical name is murraya koenigi. 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.

For further information on Ayurveda and/or questions please Visit India Herbs For Genuine Ayurvedic Medicines and Nutritional Supplements or contact Dr. Satish Kulkarni




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