Curry leaves have been used for centuries in South India as a natural flavoring agent in curries, sambaar and rasam as these small, pointed leaves in sprigs, give off a strong delightful aroma while being sauteed with spices. The curry leaf can be made into chutney, by pureeing the curry leaves with coriander leaves, coconut scrapings and tomatoes. Chopped tender curry leaves are delicious in an omelette or scrambled eggs. They can also be used to flavor savory rice dishes like pulao and coconut rice.
Like many herbs, curry leaves are not limited to their culinary use. The leaves, bark and the root of the curry leaf tree are used in traditional medicine as a tonic, stimulant and natural remedy. Below are some home remedies using curry leaves.
Curry leaves possess the qualities of an herbal tonic. They strengthen the functions of stomach and promote its action. The mature leaves are also used as a mild laxative. The leaves may be taken by itself or mixed with other mild tasting herbs. The juice extracted from 15 grams of leaves may be taken with buttermilk. To help in constipation, one can soak curry leaves in hot water for a few hours and drink the water with a spoonful of honey added to it. It eases the digestive tract and allows easier motion of stools.
Fresh juice of curry leaves, with lime juice and sugar, is an effective medicine in the treatment of morning sickness, nausea and vomiting due to indigestion and excessive fatty foods. One or two teaspoons of juice of curry leaves mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice and 1 teaspoon sugar may be taken in these condition. The curry leaves, ground to a fine paste and mixed with buttermilk or Moru, can also be taken on an empty stomach with beneficial results in case of stomach upsets. Plain curry leaf tea also helps to cure nausea.
Tender curry leaves are useful in diarrhea, dysentery and piles. They can be taken, mixed with honey. Those who can withstand the taste and have a strong stomach can chew on fresh curry leaves and count on it to relieve diarrhea. The bark of the tree is also useful in bilious vomiting. A teaspoon of the powder or the decoction of the dry bark should be given with cold water in this condition.
The curry leaf is traditionally consumed by diabetics in Southern India to aid managing the condition. Eating 10 fresh mature curry leaves every morning for three months is said to prevent diabetes due to heredity factors. It is also cures diabetes due to obesity, as the leaves have weight reducing properties. As the weight drops, the diabetic patients stop passing sugar in urine. Alternatively, another traditional remedy to control diabetes is by finely grinding enough curry leaves to make it into a ball of the size of a table-tennis ball. Mix with yogurt and take it the first thing in the morning.
The root of the curry plant is also said to have medicinal properties. The juice of the root can be taken to relieve pain associated with the kidneys.
Premature greying of hair
Liberal intake of fresh curry leaves is considered beneficial in preventing premature greying of hair. These leaves have the property to nourish the hair roots. New hair roots that grow are healthier with normal pigment. Also the leaves can be eaten in the form of chutney or the juice may be squeezed and taken in Moru.
Curry leaves boiled in coconut oil or Olive oil till they are reduced to a blackened residue forms an excellent hair tonic in retaining the natural pigmentation and also stimulating hair growth. It can be effective hair colorant which causes minimum damage and maximum benefit to greying or thinning hair. South Indian women have, for centuries, mixed the leaves with fenugreek, and applied as a paste to keep hair long, black and gleaming.
Burns and bruises
Curry leaves can be effectively used to treat burns, bruises and skin eruptions. They should be applied as a poultice over the affected areas.
Fruits of the tree, which are berries, are edible. They are green when raw, but purple when ripe. Juice of these berries, mixed with equal proportion of lime juice, is an effective fluid for external application in insect stings and bites of poisonous creatures.