Curry leaf – nutrition, proven benefits and uses

The scientific name of the Curry leaf is Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng. It is also know as South India soapnut, Sweet neem, or Curry leaf tree.

Other names include

ARABIC: Warak al kari.
ASSAMESE: Bishahari, Narasingha, Narasihgha, Nor hing, Noroximh pat, Noroxingho pat.
BENGALI: Barsunga, Barsanga, Kariaphulli,
BURMESE: Kyaung-thwe, Pin do sin.
CHINESE: Ma jiao ye, Ga li cai, Ga li ye.
CZECH: Karí lístky.
DANISH Karry blad.
DUTCH: Kerriebladeren.
ESTONIAN: Karrilehed.
FINNISH: Currylehdet.
FRENCH: Arbre à curry , Arbre à feuilles de curry, Calou pilé, Kalou pilé, Carripoul).
GERMAN: Curryblätter.
GUJARATI: Mitha limbdo, Mitho limado.
HEBREW: Ali kari.
HINDI: Gandhel, Kadhipatta, Kadipatha , Karipatta, Karii pattaa, Meetha neem, Meetha neem patta, Mithinim, Katnim, Kitha neem.
ICELANDIC: Karrílauf.
ITALIAN: Fogli di Cari.
JAPANESE: Nanyou zanshou.
KANNADA: Karibevu, Karibevu soppu.
KHMER Xantroc.
KOREAN: Ko ri ri pu.
LAOTIAN: Dok kibi, Khi be.
LITHUANIAN: Karis, Kvapioji murėja.
MALAY: Daun kari pla, Daun kari (Indonesia), Garupillai, Karupillam, Karwa pale, Kerupulai.
MALAYALAM: Kareapela, Karivepp, ariveppila, Kariveppalai, Veppila.
MARATHI: Jhiranga, Kadhinimb, Karhilimb , Kudianim.
NEPALESE: Meciyaa saag, Mitho niim (Mitho neem).
ORWEGIAN: Karriblader.
ORIYA: Bhersunga, Lesunadando, Merisinga potro.
PORTUGUESE: Folhas de Caril.
PUNJABI: Gandalu, Gandla, Karipata, Karipatta.
RUSSIAN: List’a karri.
SANSKRIT: Alakavhayah, Girinimba, Kalasaka, Mahanimba, Surabhinimba, Suravi .
SINHALESE: Karapincha.
SLOVAKIAN: Karí list.
SLOVENIAN : Curry listi.
SPANISH: Hojas de Curry.
SWAHILI: Bizari, Mchuzi.
TAMIL: Kariveppilai.
THAI: Hom khaek, Samat; Som, Mo noi.
TURKISH: Köri yaprağı.
UKRAINIAN: Listi karri.
URDUL Kariapatm Kari patah.
VIETNAMESE: Cari, Lá cà ri, Cơm nguội, Ngệt quới koenig.

Karipata is a small, tropical to subtropical tree or shrub growing to a height of 6 to 15 meters. Leaves are odd-pinnate, 11 to 21, thin, ovate, shiny and dark green. Leaflets are 2 to 4.5 centimeters long. Flowers are white, fragrant, about 1 centimeter across, in terminal cymes. Flowers are followed by 1-2 seeded, ovoid to oblong, bluish-black fruits, about 2 centimeters in diameter. It is native to India and Sri Lanka, and widely cultivated across many countries.



– Rich source of carbazole alkaloids.

Study of stem bark yielded mahanimbine, girinimbine, murrayanine, murrayazoline, murrayacine and sucrose. Leaves yielded five compounds: Il-decylhenecosane and methoxydotriacontane isolated as a mixture, and mahanimbine, ethyl octadecanoate and mahanine. Roots yielded four compounds: girinimbine, murrayanine, together with 3-methylcarbazole and murrayafoline A.

Leaves yielded carbohydrate, tannin, alkaloid, steroid, triterpenoid, and flavonoid.

– Various extracts of leaves (petroleum ether, chloroform, and ethanol extracts) yielded carbohydrates, gums, mucilage, fats, oil, coumarin glycosides, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, anthraquinone glycosides, saponins, tannins, proteins, sterols, triterpenoids, alkaloids. (See study )

– Analysis of dried curry leaf powder (CLP) yielded 12.5% protein, 5.4% fat, 9.7% total ash, 55.6% insoluble fiber, 4.4% soluble fiber, 12.0 mg/100 g iron, 373 mg/100g phosphorus, 2.04% calcium. (see study)

Study of petroleum ether extract of roots yielded two carbazole alkaloids: 3-methylcarbazole and murrayafoline A.

– Hydrodistillation of leaves yielded 0.5% essential oil on a fresh weight basis, dark yellow, spicy odor and pungent clove-like taste. Characteristics were specific gravity 0.9748. saponification value 5.2, moisture 66.3%, protein 6.1%, fat (ether extract) 1.0%, carbohydrate 18.7%, fiber 6.4%, mineral matter 4.2%, , calcium 810 mg/100g of edible portion, phosphorus 600 mg/100g of edible portion, iron 3.1 mg/100g of edible portion, carotene (vitamin A) 12,600 IU/100g, nicotinic acid 2.3 mg/100g, vitamin C 4 mg/ 100 g. (see study)

– CHCl3 extract of fruit pulp yielded three new dimeric carbazole alkaloids, bisgerayafolines A–C (1–3). Bisgerayafolines A–C (1–3). (see study )

– Analysis of fresh curry leaf for antioxidant vitamins yielded 9744 ng of lutein, 212 ng of alpha-tocopherol, and 183 ng of beta-carotene per gram of fresh weight. (see study)

Medicinal properties of karipata or curry leaf

– Leaves are pungent and aromatic.

– Leaves considered tonic, stomachic, carminative, antidysenteric, anti-emetic.

– Considered antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, hepatoprotective, antihypercholesterolemic.

Parts used

Leaves, oils.


– Leaves and fruits are edible.

– Leaves are dry roasted or fried to a crisp.

– Leaves widely used as spice and condiment.

– Essential ingredient of Indian cuisine.

– Leaves used to flavor various dishes, meat, seafood, chutney, relishes, marinades. (Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) is unrelated to the curry plant (Helichrysum italicum which also has a curry-like aroma.

Folkloric traditional remedies and uses of curry leaf tree

– Leaves ground to a paste, with tumeric as an option, and applied to acne.

– In Unani and Ayurveda, used for piles, leucoderma, blood disorders, and to allay body heat.

– Used of nausea and stomach upsets, skin irritations and poisonous bites.

– Oils used as insect repellent and to cure various skin disorders.

– Used for hemorrhoids and as anthelmintic.

– Used to treat hypertension.

– Crushed leaves applied externally to relieve burns and to cure skin eruptions

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of curry leaf 

Antioxidant / Protective in Cadmium-Induced Cardiac Oxidative Stress:

Study showed an aqueous extract of leaf protects rat cardiac tissue against cadmium-induced oxidative stress possibly through its antioxidant activity.

Anti-Cancer / Proteasome Inhibition / Breast Cancer Cell Death / Leaves:

Study evaluated a hydro-methanolic extract of curry leaves against two human breast carcinoma cell lines: MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231. The leaf extract decreased cell viability and dose-dependently altered the growth kinetics in both cell lines. The extract showed it to be a potent source of proteasome inhibitors that lead to cancer cell death.

Anti-Diabetic / Hypolipidemic / Leaves:

Study evaluated aqueous extracts of Murraya koenigii leaves and Olea europaea leaves for antidiabetic activity in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Results showed both extracts exhibited potent antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects, attributed to the presence of antioxidants such as carbazole alkaloids and polyphenols.

Study of aqueous extract of leaves in normal and STZ- induced severe diabetic rats showed a favorable effect in bringing down the severity of diabetes. There was also a decrease in TG levels and an increase in HDL cholesterol.

Daily administration of aqueous extract and methanol extract of leaves for eight weeks in alloxan induced diabetic rats showed significant reduction of blood glucose. The hypoglycemic effect might be mediated through stimulation of insulin synthesis and/or secretion from the beta cells of pancreatic islets of Langerhans. (see study)

Girinimbine / Apoptosis Effect on Lung Cancer Cells:

Girinimbine, a carbazole alkaloid isolated from M. koenigii was investigated for anticancer effects on A549 lung cancer cells. Results showed girinimbine mediates its antiproliferative and apoptotic effects through up- and down-regulation of apoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins, with significant involvement of both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways. Results suggest girinimbine to be a potential agent for anticancer drug development.

Plasma Insulin Effect / Hypoglycemic:

Study of an aqueous and methanol extract of leaves showed significant reduction of blood glucose with significant increase in plasma insulin. Results suggest the hypoglycemic effect may be mediated through stimulation of insulin synthesis and/or secretion from the beta cells of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans.

Acute Toxicity Study:

Acute toxicity study was carried out against Swiss albino mice. Results showed no mortality at the highest dose level, with no toxic effects at studied dose levels, and safe till the dose level of 9000 mg/k.

Natural Preservative Potential / Anti-Aflatoxigenic Food Additive Potential:

Study reported the antifungal and antiaflatoxigenic potential of M. koenigii and its culinary oil food additive potential. Frying oil with M. koenigii could lead to long storage reduction in aflatoxin and frying performance increase without nutritional loss.

Anti-Obesity / Hypoglycemic Effect:

Study evaluated the hypoglycemic and anti-obesity activities of ethanol extract of M. koenigii leaves in high fatty diet induced obesity in rats. Results showed a potent anti-hyperglycemic effect, with a significant decrease in both cholesterol and triglycerides, and suggest potential use by the diabetic patient for controlling body weight and maintaining glycemic level.


Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of M. koenigii leaves. An ethanol extract showed significant anti-inflammatory effects using acute carrageenan induced paw edema method and yeast induced hyperpyrexia method.

Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic:

Study evaluated a methanol extract of dried leaves of Murraya koenigii in healthy animals for anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. Results showed significant dose dependent anti-inflammatory activity with reduction in carrageenan-induced paw edema and analgesic activity with increased reaction time by eddy’s hot late method and percentage increase in pain by formalin test.

Biologic Activities:

The crude extracts of the roots isolated compound including mahanimbine, girinimbine, mahanine and murrayafoline A exhibited significant cytotoxicity activity against CEM-SS cell line. Girinimbine inhibited EBV-activation (100%) in the antitumor promoting assay . Pet ether and the chloroform crude extracts of the stem bark exhibited weak antibacterial activity against Bacillus cereus.

Neuroprotective Effect / Reserpine-Induced Orofacial Dyskinesia:

Study evaluated the neuroprotective potential and in-vivo antioxidant effect of a methanol extract of leaves in reserpine-induced orofacial dyskinesia. Results showed significant inhibition of reserpine-induced vacuous chewing movements, tongue protrusion, orofacial burst, and cataplexy. Treatment with the extract also restored the levels of protective antioxidant enzymes and inhibited haloperidol-induced cataplexy. Oxidative stress may play a role in the dyskinesia, and M. koenigii may have a role in the treatment of neuroleptic-induced orofacial dyskinesia.

Storage Effect on Nutritional Value:

Curry leaf is available fresh, dried, or frozen for long term storage. Fresh curry leaves showed the highest concentration of lutein, frozen leaves the lowest, while oven-dried and air-dried leaves yielded 60% less lutein compared to fresh leaves. Beta-carotene was highest in fresh leaves, lowest in oven-dried leaves.

Antioxidant Effect:

Study investigated Murraya koenigii and Cinnamomum tamala for antioxidant activity. M. koenigii showed higher activity than C. tamala which may be due to multiple factors: hydrogen or electron transfer, metal chelating activity, and synergistic activity due to high polyphenol content. (17) Leaf extracts showed effective antioxidant and radical scavenging activities on DPPH, NO, OH, O2- and anti-lipid peroxidation assays.

Anti-Ulcer Effect:

Study evaluated an aqueous extract of M koenigii in pylorus ligated and NSAID induced ulcer model in albino rats. Results showed significant inhibition of the gastric lesion with reduced ulcerative lesion, gastric volume, free and total acidity, with raised pH of gastric juice in the pylorus-ligated model.

Antimicrobial Effect:

Study evaluated various root extracts of M. koenigii against four bacterial strains and three fungal strains. Root extracts in organic solvents showed good antimicrobial activity. S. aureus and T. rubrum were the most susceptible antibacterial and fungal strains.

Antigenotoxic / Chemoprotective Effect:

Study evaluated the chemoprotective activity of a methanolic extract of M. koenigii in Swiss albino mice bone marrow in-vivo model. Results showed the extract effectively prevented cyclophosphamide induced chromosomal aberration. No drug toxicity was noted at 100 mg/kbw dose.

Antipyretic Effect / Leaves/ useful in fever:

Study evaluated the antipyretic activity of M. koenigii leaves extract. Results showed an ethanol extract to possess significant antipyretic activity.

Antifungal / Leaves:

Study evaluated various extracts of shade dried leaves and extracted essential oil from the leaves of M. koenigii for antifungal potential. Acetone extract showed highest activity against Aspergillus niger, benzene extract most active against Alternaria solani and Helminthosporium solani, and the 95% ethanol extract was most active against Penicillium notatum. The essential oil also showed moderate antifungal activity.

Hypoglycemic / Fruit Juice:

Study evaluated the hypoglycemic effect of M. koenigii fruit juice in alloxan induced diabetic mice. Results showed reduction in blood glucose level. The fruit juice may also exert a cytoprotective effect because of the presence of antioxidant phytochemicals.

Anthelmintic /destroy parasitic worms/ Roots:

Study evaluated ethanolic and aqueous extracts of roots for anthelmintic activity against Eudrillus eugeniae, with albendazole as reference drug. Results showed potent anthelmintic activity in the parameters studied.

Larvicidal, Pupicidal Repellent Against Malaria Vector:

Study evaluated the larvicidal, pupicidal, repellent and anti-vector activity of aqueous extract of M. koenigii against the larvae and pupae of Anopheles stephensi. Results showed a potential for M. koenigii as an ideal eco-friendly approach for vector control.

Antioxidant / Leaves:

Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of M. koenigii leaves in male wistar rats with dichromate induced oxidative stress. Treatment with M. koenigii significantly increased the GSH content in liver and kidney with reduction in hepatic malondialdehyde in liver and kidney. Results indicate M. koenigii leaves have significant potential as a natural antioxidant agent.

Protective in Dalton’s Ascitic Lymphoma:

Study evaluated the effect of column extracts of M. koenigii plant extracts in vivo and in vitro in swiss albino mice. Results suggest a protective effect in Dalton’s Ascitic Lymphoma. In vitro studies showed moderate activity.

Acceptability of Curry Leaf Products Incorporated for Consumption:

Study explored the possibility of incorporating dried curry leaf powder (CLP) at 5 or 10% to common dishes to increase the intake of greens a source of micronutrients. (see constituents above)

Fruit Juice Repeated Dose Toxicity Study / Effects on Weight, Fat, and Glucose:

Use of fruit juice for 28 days decreased body weight, subcutaneous fat, and blood glucose level. More research is suggested on the fruit’s biologic activities, especially hypocholesterolemic, antidiabetic and antiobesity use.


Study evaluated the in vitro antimicrobial efficacy of leaves extracts of Murraya koenigii against six gram positive and nine gram negative bacterial and two fungal strains. The most susceptible bacterial strains were Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus, with no antifungal activity. Organic solvents showed better activity than aqueous extracts.

Hepatoprotective / protects liver/ Lead-Induced Hepatotoxicity:

Study of curry leaf aqueous extract showed amelioration of lead induced oxidative damage in hepatic tissue. Results suggest potential for use in prevention of lead-induced hepatotoxicity in humans occupationally or environmentally exposed to this toxic metal.

Antidiarrheal / Roots:

Study evaluated roots extracts of M. koenigii for antidiarrheal activity using albino rats. Ethanol and aqueous extracts showed significant inhibition in the frequency of defecation as well as reduction in the number of wet fecal droppings in castor oil-induced diarrhea model, and significant reduction in propulsion of charcoal meal through the GIT in gastrointestinal motility model.

Hypotensive / Possible Drug-Herb Interaction with Amlodipine:

Study evaluated the antihypertensive effect of Murraya koenigii and investigated its interaction with amlodipine in cadmium chloride induced hypertension in rats. The combination of the extract with amlodipine showed a profound hypotensive effect suggesting a synergistic interaction.
Mediated Synthesis of Silver Nanoparticles / Antibacterial:

Study reports the synthesis of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) by M. koenigii leaf extract. The bactericidal activity of standard antibiotics was significantly increased in the presence of AgNPs against pathogenic bacteria, viz., E. coli, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa.

Antidepressant / Seeds:

Study evaluated a hydroalcoholic extract of seeds for antidepressant activity in mice. Results showed significant reduction in duration of immobility of mice in tail suspension test and despair swimming test.

Hepatoprotective / Ethanol Induced Liver Toxicity:

An aqueous extract showed hepatoprotection on ethanol-induced liver toxicity in wistar rats. The extract showed significant increase in reduced glutathione levels and comparable reduction in SGPT and alkaline phosphatase.

Anti-Inflammatory / Potentiation of Effect:

An ethanol extract of leaves showed anti-inflammatory activity in rats using carrageenan induce paw edema method. The combination of the extract with diclofenac potentiated the anti-inflammatory effect of diclofenac, a result that may help in reducing the dose of the synthetic drug.

Wound Healing:

Study evaluated three carbazole alkaloids (mahanine, mahanimbicine, mahanimbine), essential oil and ethanol extract for efficacy in healing subcutaneous wounds. The absence of changes in the liver and kidney of the animals suggest the non-toxic nature of the treatments using the extract and the carbazole alkaloids. Wounds treated with mahanimbicine and extract showed the highest rate of collagen deposition with reduced inflammatory cells.

Nootropic /cognitive enhancers/ Leaves:

Study evaluated the effects of Murraya koenigii leaves on memory in rats using Elevated plus-maze and Hebb-Williams maze as exteroceptive behavioral models for testing memory. The MKL diets produced significant dose-dependent improvement in memory scores of young and aged rats and significantly reduced the amnesia induced by scopolamine and diazepam. Results suggest a potential in the management of dementia patients.

Antinociceptive /Reduced sensitivity to pain/ Leaves:

Study evaluated the analgesic activity of acute and chronic administration of petroleum ether extract of leaves and total alkaloids in mice. The extract and total alkaloid fraction significantly and dose-dependently reduced the number of acetic acid-induced writhing, significantly increased the latency of paw licking in hot plate method, and increased basal reaction time in tail immersion method.

Renoprotective / protects kidney/ Leaves:

Study evaluated an aqueous extract of leaves for renoprotective potential against unilateral renal ischemia reperfusion injury in male Wistar rats. Results showed restoration of serum and urinary parameters with improvement in endogenous antioxidants. Findings suggest both preventive and curative effects against RIR injury.

Koenimbin / Chemoprevention Potential:

Study evaluated the efficacy of koenimbin, isolated from M. koenigii, in the inhibition of MCF7 breast cancer cells and to target MCF7 breast cancer stem cells through apoptosis in vitro. Results showed koenimbin-induced apoptosis in MCF7 cells mediated by cell death-transducing signals. Findings suggest a potential for koenimbin for future chemoprevention studies and cancer management strategies.

Paraoxonase / Hypoglycemic Effect:

The activity of paraoxonase 1 (PON1), a HDL-associated antioxidant enzyme, was found to be decreased during hypoglycemia. Study explored the effect of MK leaves (MkL) on paraoxonase 1 activity to control oxidative stress in diabetes. MkL significantly decreased blood sugar levels in a dose dependent manner. PON1 activity was found to be increased with MkL extract. Results suggest MkL treatment decreased oxidative stress associated with diabetes by affecting the antioxidant parameters like SOD, CAT, GSH, MDA, and also PON1.

Hepatoprotective / CCl4-Induced Hepatic Damage:

Study evaluated a methanolic extract of Mk leaves in attenuating hepatic damage induced by carbon tetrachloride, a potent oxidative stress induced and a model hepatotoxicant. Results showed a hepatoprotective effect supported by histopathological liver findings.

Thrombolytic / Cytotoxic / good for heart/ Antioxidant:

An aqueous extract of Mk showed thrombolytic activity of 26.17%. Cytotoxicity on brine shrimp lethality assay showed an LC50 value of 6.46. Total antioxidant value was found to be 350.81 ±0.99 mg/g. Findings suggest thrombolytic, cytotoxic, and antioxidant properties with potential benefit for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Bioactive Dimeric Carbazole Alkaloids / Fruit Pulp:

CHCl3 extract of fruit pulp yielded three new dimeric carbazole alkaloids, bisgerayafolines A–C (1–3). Bisgerayafolines A–C (1–3). The compounds exhibited various levels of antioxidant, anti-α-glucosidase, DNA binding, and cytotoxic activities and protein interactions.

Chemomodulatory / Human Stomach and Skin Papillomagenesis:

Study evaluated fresh crude curry leaf aqueous extract in Swiss albino mice for chemomodulatory activity. The anticarcinogenic potential of the curry leaf was evaluated adopting the Benzo(a)pyrene induced forestomach and 7,12 DMBA-induced skin papillomagenesis. Results showed a significant reduction in tumor burden as well as tumor incidence in both tumor model systems studied. Findings suggest the curry leaf can be useful in the prevention of human stomach and skin cancers.


Study evaluated an ethanolic extract for antifungal efficacy against two dermatophytic taxa, namely, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum gypseum and evaluated the therapeutic value of the extract against an imidazole fungicide. The extract equally inhibited vegetative growth like that of the fungicide and the extract exerted significant effect on hyphal morphology. Effect of the extract was almost equal that of the fungicide.

Anthelmintic / Leaves:

Study of crude extract of leaves of M. koenigii and M. frondosa and their fractions showed anthelmintic activity using Pheretima posthuma as test worms. Albendazole was used as standard reference.

Toxicity and Repellent Activity / Essential Oils:

Study evaluated essential oils of Cymbopogon citratus and M. koenigii for toxicity and repellent activity against Callosobruchus maculatus in stored cowpea. Findings showed the essential oils of lemongrass and curry leaf could be used as less toxic alternatives to protect stored cowpea.

Antidiabetogenic / Islet Protective and Insulin Secretory Activity:

Study investigated the antidiabetogenic effects of Murraya koenigii and O. tenuiflorum on STZ-induced diabetic Swiss mice. Results showed pancreatic and intestinal glucosidase inhibitory activity and pancreatic ß-cell protection. Results suggest a potential for the extracts in adjuvant therapy for treatment of diabetes.

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