Relying on natural substances for healthcare is an old practice in Kerala, especially during the Malayalam months of Midhunam and Karkidakam. Leaves of various nutritious plants find space on the platter in this season. Leaves are supposed to have the maximum nutrition during rainy days and hence it is advisable to consume them during Karkidakam.
The dishes made of 10 leaves are popular as health-givers across Kerala, though the constituents may vary slightly across regions. However a few leaves are common and they include those of the ash gourd
(kumbalanga), pumpkin (matthanga), cucumber (veḷḷarikka), Cassia tora (thakara), spinach (cheera), Boerhavia diffusa (thazhuthama), yam (chena), Phyllanthus niruri (keezhar nelli), and the stems and leaves of colocasia (chembu or taro).
The most tender leaves are to used for consumption. Leaf curries provide nutrition, help evacuation of bowels, strengthen eye sight, brighten the skin and eliminate toxins. It is ideal to have them at least once in a week.
Food, sleep and exercise are keys to the prevention of diseases. Food should ensure health. Taken moderately, hygienically and accurately, food itself becomes a medicine. This is where the 10-leaves therapy matters.
Why the dish?
Nature attains a new life in Karkidakam. The greenery helps to regain health and is advised for that reason, after the fatigue experienced during the summer.
Ash gourd: Reduces fat, enhances intelligence, assists kidney function, stimulates the lungs and keeps it healthy and controls hoemorrhage.
Pumpkin: It regulates insulin and is hence good for diabetics. Reduces prostate problems. Ideal for skin health. Offers vitamin A and C in plenty.
Cucumber: Reduces fatigue, phlegm, and anaemia.
Cassia tora: Ideal for skin and eye care.
Spinach: Helps to get rid of anaemia with its high iron content. Supports the bones and the colon.
Boerhavia diffusa: Enhances kidney function, removes toxins and inflammation in the body. A good cough remedy. Also useful for cardiac care.
Yam: Ideal for diabetics. It contains plenty of fiber, calcium and phosphorous.
Niruri: The whole plant has medicinal potential. Removes toxins. A remedy for stomach pain and indigestion.
Colocasia stem: Aids digestion. Provides calcium and phosphorous in plenty.
Colocasia leaves: Assist in digestion. Good for the heart and the eyes. Improve resistance.