Native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, Kaffir lime is a type of lime widely used in cuisines of Southeast Asian countries. It is also known by several other names such as Limau purut, Thai limes, wild limes and Makrut. Unlike the other types of limes, kaffir limes have a rough and warty appearance. The juice, zest and aromatic leaves of this plant impart a wonderful aroma and flavor to dishes and hence are used in cooking. Kaffir lime also has many therapeutic properties and is used popularly in Southeastern folk medicine. The essential oil obtained from the lime is also found to offer many health benefiting effects.
Health benefits of Kaffir lime
Kaffir limes have a unique aroma and flavor, which can be attributed to the presence of high levels of alkaloids and other phytochemicals in it. These compounds are also responsible for the various health benefits that these limes offer. The leaves of kaffir lime and the oil extracted from the leaves have potent medicinal properties. It is used as an ingredient in ointments, salves, lotions and cosmetic products. Given below are a few benefits of kaffir limes:
- Kaffir lime improves your oral health
One of the most important benefits of kaffir lime is its ability to protect the health of your gums and teeth. The leaves have antibacterial properties and when rubbed on the gums provide protection from gum problems by preventing bacterial infection. Folk medicine promotes the use of kaffir lime juice for brushing the teeth and gums, which helps in improving oral health. The aroma of the leaves increases the production of saliva in the mouth, which helps in the easy removal of food particles from the mouth and in between the teeth. Because of its oral health benefiting effects, the essential oils extracted from the limes are often used in toothpastes and mouthwashes.
[Read more about home remedies for bad breath]
- Kaffir limes for the digestive system
Kaffir limes are considered to be great for the digestive system. Traditional Thai medicine makes use of these limes for curing indigestion and other digestive problems. Kaffir limes contain many active constituents that have anti-inflammatory properties, which help in preventing inflammation of the digestive system. Kaffir limes increases the production of saliva and digestive juices, which aids in digestion. A decoction of kaffir lime leaves is found to promote regular bowel movements and hence is an effective remedy for digestive issues like constipation. Kaffir limes are also beneficial in preventing certain diseases affecting the gastrointestinal system such as gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer.
- Kaffir limes detoxifies the blood
The oil obtained from kaffir limes acts as a great blood detoxifying agent. It is often combined with various decoctions and given to people suffering from blood related disorders. The active components in the oil with their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects destroy and get rid of the pathogens in the blood. Kaffir lime also promotes the flushing out of toxins from the blood and the body as well. By providing detoxification benefits, these limes help in improving your overall health and well-being.
- Kaffir lime offers skin care benefits
The extracts and juice of kaffir lime are used in many skin care products because the active constituents in the lime offer antioxidant properties that are beneficial to the skin in many ways. These compounds helps neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals that cause cells mutations and oxidative stress that may lead to the development of wrinkles, fine lines and even diseases like cancer. Thus by eliminating the free radicals, kaffir lime functions as an anti-aging ingredient. Kaffir limes contain vitamin C that in addition to being a powerful antioxidant also increases the production of collagen that improves the elasticity of the skin. The regular use of these limes can therefore leave you with smooth, supple and younger looking skin. They have astringent properties and can be used as a remedy for preventing acne and pimples. Kaffir lime body scrub has antibacterial properties that cleanses your skin and provides a fresh and attractive scent to your body.
[Read more about wintercare of skin at home]
- Kaffir lime for healthy hair
The juice of and leaves kaffir limes help in enhancing the health of your hair. The essential oil obtained from them is used in making soaps and shampoos. Kaffir lime shampoo is used in traditional Thai medicine to treat dandruff and hair loss. It prevents the growth of microbes that cause scalp infection and thus protects the health of your hair. It also encourages the healthy growth of hair. Kaffir lime shampoo cleanses your hair and scalp and provides essential nourishment. The wonderful citrus aroma of the limes leaves your hair smelling great.
- Kaffir lime reduces inflammation
Kaffir limes have potent anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it an effective remedy for treating inflammatory conditions such as gout, arthritis, rheumatism etc. The juice, oil, crushed leaves or extracts can be applied topically on the affected area to find relief from pain and inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of kaffir limes are also beneficial for treating migraines and headaches.
- Kaffir lime provides stress relief
The essential oils obtained from kaffir limes have an amazing and soothing aroma, because of which it is widely used in aromatherapy. It is an effective stress buster and also a great remedy for many mental problems such as anxiety and depression. Inhaling the aroma of kaffir lime oil offers a calming and soothing effect on the mind.
[Read more about health benefits of gossip]
- Kaffir lime boosts the immune system.
Kaffir limes contain active phytochemicals that have the ability to improve your immune system and protect your body against diseases. It is rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient that plays a major role in strengthening the immune system. Its antioxidant effects helps fight off the free radicals and prevent serious conditions like heart diseases and cancer. Studies indicate that kaffir limes prevent the weakening of the immune system in cancer patients following chemotherapy. The skin of these limes contains compounds such as hespiridin and naringenin that help prevent immunosuppression during chemotherapy.
- Kaffir lime as an insect repellent
In Thailand, Kaffir lime or makrut is commonly available effective cleanser and natural deodorizer. Compounds such as limonene and citronellol found in kaffir limes repel the insects and hence are helpful in eliminating insects. Applying kaffir lime lotion or salve on the skin helps in preventing mosquito and other insect bites.
Kaffir lime peel is indispensable part of many Thai curry paste recipes. The zest offers strong flavor and often used sparingly, chopped finely, grated or used as paste. Similarly Kaffir lime leaves makes Thai recipes special. Often used in soups or similar to bay leaves in flavoring broth. Cut in fine needle like slivers they are often used in salads. Wonderfully rich in flavor and aroma, and packed with health benefits, Kaffir limes are a great addition to your regular diet. The limes and its leaves are available in the supermarkets. Fresh leaves will keep for about a few weeks but when stored in the refrigerator, they stay fresh for months. Incorporated into sauces, curries and other dishes, kaffir lime enhances the taste and flavor of the dishes, making you want to use it again and again.