Latin Name– Curcuma longa
English Name- Turmeric
Sanskrit Names– Haridra, Harita, Jayanti, Kanchani, Nisha
Family- Scitaminae ( used with food stuff and condiments)
Turmeric is the source of brilliant Golden- Orange spice that gives many curries their peppery, somewhat musky flower and ballpark mustard its bright yellow hue. It comes from the rhizome of a stately, large leafed perennial that belongs to the same family as ginger. the genus name of turmeric Curcuma, comes from Kurkum, a word used in ancient Rome to mean saffron, which is a much costlier, more subtly flavored spice. Turmeric is mentioned in the Vedas, the oldest sacred text of Hinduism as being associated with purity and cleanings.
Even today, orthodox Hindu brides and bridegrooms take part in a ceremony called haldi- the Hindi word of turmeric in which their faces and hands are coated with turmeric paste before the take their VOWS. As a healing herb, turmeric has its roots deep in the medicinal traditions of India, China and several Southeast Asian culture. In western herbal medicine, it has recently gained popularity as a potent but safe anti-inflammatory treatment for a host of digestive ailments and other conditions.
Annual Shrub, rhizome grows underground. Leaves are 30 to 40 cm in length and they smell like Ginger. The petiole is long and broad like leaves and it smells like mango. The stalk of the the flower is 12 to 16 cm long and yellow flower grows at the tip. Fruit- oval with deep yellow pulp. the flowering of the plant occurs in the beginning of rainy season.
1% volatile oil, resin, curcumin is responsible for its colour. Turmeric oil has a Peculiar order and taste.
Local application of turmeric is inflammatory, analgesic and complexion enhancer. It cures skin disorders, has wound cleaning and healing properties. Turmeric smoke relieves hiccups, lowers respiration and also relieves pain caused due to Scorpion bite. Tt is very strong in nature. Its paste acts as an antidote. Those who develop cough and other respiratory disorders by drinking milk can be treated by turmeric.
This ancient Spice is one of the most intensely researched herbs in the marketplace. Interestingly, studies in animals suggest turmeric may offer protection from Alzheimer’s disease. Scientist have discovered that curcumin, a group of highly active yellow coloured compound in turmeric, stops the accumulation of plaque in the brain. Destructive protein fragments known as beta amyloid plaques build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and lead to memory loss.
Turmeric seems to have a special affinity for reducing inflammation in the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. Curcuma has been shown to be beneficial for reducing symptoms in patient with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions are collectively referred to as inflammatory bowel disease. In studies, patients given dose of 1to 2 g per day of curcumin experienced fewer symptoms and less systemic inflammation.
Curcumin may protect against colon cancer. A small pilot study in a patient with familial Adenomatous polyposis (FAP) disorder, characterized by the development of hundreds of benign tumors in a colon eventually leading to colorectal cancer, garnered positive results. A combination of 480 milligram of curcumin and 20 milligram of quercetin taken orally 3 times a day reduced the number of size of tumors and patient by roughly 60% over a six month period.
Other Therapeutic Uses of Turmeric
1. Nervous system
Turmeric is a Analsegisic by it’s ushna veerya. In case of injury, a mixture of turmeric and jaggery administrated orally reduces pain and promotes circulation.
2. Digestive system
Turmeric is bitter in test; appetizer laxative, cholagogue and antihelminthic. Because of these properties it is used for treating loss of appetite, hepatitis, constipation, Ascites and worms. There is a wrong belief that turmeric causes jaundice or it is harmful in jaundice.
3. Circulatory system
Turmeric stimulates blood formation, circulation and it is also homeostatic. Turmeric is useful in treating anaemia, bleeding disorders and other blood diseases.
4. Respiratory system
Because of its tikta ( pungent)and tikshma (sharpness) properties, turmeric is useful as an expectorant. Mucous ( Kapha) developed due to drinking milk and other ailments due to kapha can be treated with turmeric. Inhalation of turmeric is smoke reduces Kapha.
How to use?
Pour two cups boiling water over one teaspoon turmeric and steep for 10 minutes, strain it. Add honey and or lemon if desired.
2 to 3 gram turmeric per day provides 62 to 100 milligram curcumin, the daily amount typically consumed in the diet in India.
3. Standardized extract
To replicate the levels of curcumin used in the clinical trials on turmeric, purchase and extract that guarantees a specific level of curcumin (sometimes written as curcuminoid on the label). Most studies used turmeric extract providing 1 to 2 g per day of curcumin, taken into 2 to 3 diveded doses.
Eating turmeric is very safe. Scientists have shown that taking curcumin at doses of up to 12 gram per day is also very well tolerated, so there is little reason to take that much. Some people may get indigestion when taking high amounts of turmeric/ curcumin.
Written by: Dr Ranjeet Singh
(Sources; National geographic, 36 healing herbs, Ayurvedic Pharmacology & Therapeutic uses of medicinal plants.)