Those who live in South Asian Countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Southeast AsianCountries such as Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam countries such as India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines would be well familiar with a plant called pandan, a tropical plant that is widely used in the region’s cuisine for fragrance and flavour.
I remember growing up as a child and being tasked by my mother to go out to the neighbour’s yard to grab a few leaves of this plant whenever she was making jelly or baking a cake.
Health Benefits of Pandan Leaves
Apart from its unmistakable fragrance, pandan leaves actually carry a lot of health benefits. Today, we will talk about the 20 health benefits of pandan leaves and how you can prepare this for your consumption and topical use.
1Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the most potent health benefits of pandan leaves is its efficacy at lowering blood pressure. It’s a natural way to alleviate the symptoms of dizziness and can help to prevent stroke. (See Preparing pandan Leaf Tea below)
2Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Pandan leaf extract is naturally antihyperglycemicpertaining to a substance or therapy that counteracts or lower elevated high levels of glucose in the blood and has been found to effectively decrease postprandialafter eating or after a meal blood sugar, according to a research conducted in Bangkok in 2015 and published on the US National Institutes of Health site.
Although the research was carried out on healthy participants, the findings also show that pandan leaf extract stimulates insulin secretion from rat pancreatic beta cell line and suggests that it may potentially be used in traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
(See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
“Pandanus amaryllifolius Roxb. leaf extract contained several compounds that act as a natural antioxidant and antidiabetic agents, such as essential oils, tocopherols, tocotrienols, alkaloid fatty acids, esters non-specific lipid transfer protein, and carotenoids and flavonoids.”
3Remedy for Pains and Cramps
Pandan leaves is an excellent remedy for pains and cramps and can be applied by preparing a liniment and rubbed into the affected area. This is also good for treating pains for arthritis. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Liniment below)
Given its laxative properties, pandan leaf is also good for alleviating stomach cramps and spasms. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
4Natural Mosquito and Cockroach Repellent
This isn’t a direct result through ingesting, but an indirect health benefit by keeping pathogen-carrying pests away from you and your home. Rub your arms, legs and other exposed areas of your body with an extract of pandan leaves to keep mosquitoes away.
As an alternative to lemongrass, you can also use pandan leaves as another natural repellent to keep cockroaches away. Spray the pandan leaf extract at areas of your home, especially kitchen and bathroom corners, where cockroaches are likely to be found. A bottle of the extract can be prepared to be used when needed. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Liniment below)
Pandan leaf tea is known to reduce uric acid levels in the body and can help to alleviate the symptoms of gout. Drinking this home-brewed tea regularly can also help to remove kidney stones from the body. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
6Rich in Nourishing Essential Oils
Pandan leaves contain essential natural oils that make them great for boosting and maintaining your overall health. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
7Cointains Anti-Carcinogenic Properties
Several compounds found in pandan leaves act as a natural antioxidant making the extract anti-carcinogenic and good for preventing cancer when consumed regularly. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
8Good for Skin and Hair Health
Pandan leaf is good for the skin and hair and helps to nourish the hair and prevent dandruff. Use it regularly with routine shampooing and restore the lustre on dull hair. Apply it to skin to treat sunburn. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Liniment below)
9Boosts and Increases Appetite
For those who experience weak appetites, especially if having just recovered from an illness or have an aversion to food, pandan leaf can help to restore and boost your appetite. Drink pandan leaf tea in the morning and evening to shake off the loss in appetite. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
Pandan leaf tea can help to reduce the symptoms of fever by gradually reducing body heat. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
11Enhances Body Stamina
To enhance your body stamina, boil five pandan leaves with 3 glasses of water, remove the leaves after boiling and allow the concoction to stand until cool. Add some lemon drops to the water and drink every 2 days. You can also get this benefit by drinking the pandan leaf tea. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
12Helps to Overcome Impotence
Pandan leaf is also a natural remedy that can help men to overcome impotence when taken regularly. To do so, wash 3 pieces of pandan leaves and cut them into small pieces. Boil the leaves in 4 cups of water until the volume of water is halved i.e. about 2 cups. Drink this fluid twice a day – one cup each time in the morning and evening.
13Suppresses Anxiety and Stress
To suppress anxiety, wash 2 pieces of pandan leaves and slice it thinly. Brew the leaves in a glass of boiling water. Once cool, strain the water and drink the fluid immediately. Take this 2 to 3 times a day until you feel better.
RheumatismA popular but indefinite term for any of a variety of disorders marked by inflammation, degeneration, or metabolic derangement of connective tissue structures (especially joints and related structures), with pain, stiffness, or limitation of motion, and includes disorders such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and sciatica. can affect both young and old people, and is usually caused by eating foods that contain high purinea colourless crystalline compound with basic properties, forming uric acid on oxidation such as spinach, anchovies, red meat, clams and alcohol, as well as bathing late at night. To treat rheumatism, prepare a liniment and apply by massaging the affected area. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Liniment below)
Pandan leaves contain alkaloidAny of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds of plant origin which have pronounced physiological effects on humans. They include drugs such as morphine and quinine, and poisons such as atropine and strychnine. compounds that have a calming effect on the human body. Keeping the body calm helps one to sleep better. Stir a teaspoon of honey into some pandan leaf tea and consume warm. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
As mentioned, pandan leaf extract has a calming effect on the human body, and is a suitable remedy to relieve headaches. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
17Treating Skin Fungal Infections
Pandan leaf is also known to be an effective treatment for a common skin fungal infection known as tinea versicolor, or popularly known as panau in the Malay and PeranakanAn ethnic group descended from Chinese settlers from the southern provinces who came to the Malay archipelago including British Malaya, now Malaysia and Singapore, where they are also referred to as Baba-Nyonya. communities. To treat this fungal infection, the pandan leaf extract is to be taken internally by preparing the tea mixed with a little salt for taste. The water is to be taken daily for 3 to 5 days for efficacy. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
Consuming pandan leaf tea daily can help one to prevent and overcome constipation. (See Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
19Detoxifies Your Liver and Body
Introducing pandan leaf extract to your diet can help to detoxify your liver and discharge toxins from your body. (See Use as an Ingredient in Cooking and Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea below)
20Treat Dental Gum Pains
We have not tried this, but were told that pandan leaves can be chewed dry to treat gum pains.
Here is a video uploaded on the YouTube channel HEALTHY that talks about the health benefits of pandan leaves:
Preparing Pandan Leaf for Consumption or Topical Use
Use as an Ingredient in Cooking
Using pandan leaves in cooking is simple. Just gather 2 to 3 medium-length leaves and tie them into a knot. Add them to a pot of rice and cook the rice with the pandan leaves in the water. The fragrance and essence of the pandan leaves will be absorbed into the rice.
You can also place the tied leaves into soups, stews and curries, and allow the aroma of the pandan leaves to be infused into the preparation. A healthy and fragrant concoction indeed!
In any case, the essence of pandan leaves needs to be extracted into your culinary preparation and the leaves to be discarded and not consumed, as they are too fibrous and are inedible.
Use as an Ingredient in Baking
To use pandan leaf extract in your baking, boil the leaves in water and add this to your flour.
Preparing Pandan Leaf Tea
Pandan leaf tea is easy to prepare and is an excellent way to gain the health essence of this wonderful plant. To prepare:
- Wash thoroughly 3 to 4 small- or medium-length pandan leaves, gather and tie them into a knot.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil and add the leaves to the boiling water.
- Optional: You may add a small piece of ginger to the mix if you wish.
- Allow the leaves to remain in the boiling water for 5 minutes.
- Simmer the mixture for another 10 minutes until the leaves soften and the water turns green (the more leaves used, the darker green the tea will be).
- Remove the leaves from the water.
- Drink the tea when it is cool.
N.B. Excess cool tea can be transferred to an airtight container or bottle and can be kept refrigerated for up to 7 days. Discard any leftover after 7 days.
Preparing Pandan Leaf Liniment
Some of us may remember having used Sloan’s Liniment (right) to soothe muscle or joint pains caused by strains, sprains, bruising or arthritis. However, for those who are allergic to chilli peppers, which is an active ingredient in Sloan’s Liniment, pandan leaves offer an alternative viable solution.
To prepare a linimentOriginating from the Latin word linere and sometimes referred to as a balm or heat rub, a liniment is a medicated topical preparation of lower viscosity than lotions for application to the skin by rubbing to create friction, for the relief of pain, stiffness, aches and strains. using pandan leaves:
- Place 50 ml of virgin coconut oil into a pot and heat it up gently (low heat).
- Wash thoroughly 5 to 6 medium-length pandan leaves, gather and tie them into a knot.
- Place the pandan leaves into the pot on low heat.
- Allow the heat to simmer down once you detect the combined scent of coconut oil and pandan leaves.
- Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool down for about 1 to 2 hours.
- Once cooled, transfer the mixture into an airtight glass container or bottle for easy application.
- Apply by massaging the liniment to the affected area as and when required. No reheat of the liniment is required.
Preparing Pandan Juice from Pandan Leaves
You can also use a blender to grind cut pieces of pandan leaves to a pulp, and strain the result to obtain the juice. Watch the following quick video by marecipes.com to see how this is done:
Health Benefits of Pandan Leaves for Everyone
One of the best features of pandan leaves is, unlike most chemical-based drug and over-the-counter medication, it is not known to carry any side effects.
Pandan leaves naturally contains tannin and essential oils, which are great for treating pain and soothing inflammation. One can prepare them quite easily for consumption as described above.
As long as your local climate allows for it, the pandan plant can be easily grown practically cost-free in your backyard. It is a great idea to have a plant that offers so many health benefits within reach. And if you don’t feel like growing one, they are usually quite easy to source and obtain, especially from kind neighbours who grow them. But really, grow your own!
To learn how to grow your own pandan plant, check out our article on How to Grow Pandan Plant.