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Turmeric is an ancient spice, a native of South East Asia, used from antiquity as dye and a condiment.
Turmeric is in fact one of the cheapest spices. Although as a dye it is used similarly to saffron, the culinary uses of the two spices should not be confused and should never replace saffron in food dishes.
The use of turmeric dates back nearly 4000 years, to the Vedic culture in India where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance. The name derives from the Latin terra merita “meritorious earth” referring to the color of ground turmeric which resembles a mineral pigment. In many languages turmeric is simply named as “yellow root”.
Turmeric as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the stewed and dried rhizome.
Turmeric is used in Chinese medicine to ease shoulder pain, menstrual cramps, and colic.
Turmeric is a mild digestive, being aromatic, a stimulant and a carminative. An ointment base on the spice is used as an antiseptic in Malaysia. Turmeric water is an Asian cosmetic applied to impart a golden glow to the complexion. Curcumin has been shown to be active against Staphlococcus aureus (pus-producing infections)
Turmeric is approved by Commission E for dyspeptic complaints and loss of appetite.
Folk medicine: Turmeric is used for dyspeptic disorders, particularly feelings of fullness after meals and regular abdominal distention due to gas. The drug is also used for diarrhea, intermittent fever, edema, bronchitis, colds, worms, leprosy, kidney inflammation and cystitis. Other uses include headaches, flatulence, upper abdominal pain, chest infections, colic, amenorrhea and blood rushes. It is used externally for bruising, leech bites, festering eye infections, inflammation of the oral mucosa, inflammatory skin conditions and infected wounds.
Chinese medicine: Turmeric is used for pains in the chest, ribs, abdomen, liver and stomach; nose bleeds; vomiting with bleeding; and heat stroke.
Indian medicine: Turmeric is used for inflammation, wounds and skin ulcers, itching, stomach complaints, flatulence, conjunctivitis, constipation, ringworm infestation and colic.
To prepare a tea, scald 0.5 to 1 gm drug in boiling water, cover, draw for 5 minutes and then strain. The tincture strength is 1:10. The tea (2 to 3 cups) should be taken between meals.
Culinary Uses of Turmeric
Apart from its wide use in Moroccan cuisine to spice meat, particularly lamb, and vegetables, its principal place is in curries and curry powders.
Turmeric is used in many fish curries, possibly because it successfully masks fishy odors. When used in curry powders, it is usually one of the main ingredients, providing the associated yellow color.
Turmeric and saffron add both brilliant color and aroma to food.
Terrific Joint Support
Turmeric Root is one of the most widely used herbs for joint support in India, where it is commonly combined with ginger.
Turmeric: Not Just a Spice
Although best known as a spice that gives a distinctive flavor and yellow color to curry powder and mustard, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family that has long been used for healing.
Studies continue finding more benefits…
Studies have shown that turmeric has strong antioxidant activity. It is more potent than either vitamin C or vitamin E. In the body these important disease-fighting substances mop up unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals that can otherwise damage cells and cause diseases such as cancer.
One component, dimethylbenzyl alcohol, normalizes cholesterol in the blood, while curcumin removes accumulation of cholesterol in the liver. Turmeric normalizes arterial health.
Turmeric is also called for when indigestion, gas, and eliminatory issues imbalance the body.
Teas are not as potent as formulations standardized to a curcumin concentration (and they don’t always appeal because of the herb’s distinctive taste). To make a tea, pour 1 cup (8 ounces) of boiling water over 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of powdered turmeric, let steep covered for 5 minutes, then strain, if necessary. Drink two or three cups daily, as desired.
Formulations to take internally include capsules, fresh juice, boiled tea made from powder, and tinctures. Topical formulations include creams, lotions, pastes, and ointments.
Heart Health and Weight Loss: Research has shown decreases in total body fat by eating a turmeric enhanced diet. The University of Tsukuba in Japan found curcumin to be beneficial as exercise when it comes to heart health by improving arterial health and hindering cholesterol buildup.
One of the components of Turmeric is curcumin, a type of phytochemical known as a polyphenol. Research findings suggest that phytochemicals, which are the chemicals found in plants, appear to help prevent disease. As the bioactive component of turmeric, curcumin is readily absorbed for use by the body.
The most recent discovery-in-progress is potential help for Alzheimers and Dementia. From BBC:
Dr Susanne Sorensen, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Indian communities that regularly eat curcumin have a surprisingly low incidence of Alzheimer’s disease but we don’t yet know why. Alzheimer’s Society is keen to explore the potential benefits of curcumin in protecting the brain and we are conducting our own research into this area. A cheap, accessible and safe treatment could transform the quality of life of thousands of people with the condition.”
Flurry for Curry
Curry Powder: The flurry around curry centers on its primary ingredient – turmeric, which contains curcumin, a powerful polyphenol with antioxidant properties. Curcumin lends the spice its distinctive flavor and vivid yellow color.
In a study by Columbia University researchers, curcumin reduced inflammation and lessened the chances that obese mice would develop type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, in the mice that did get the disease, curcumin still lessened insulin resistance, improved blood sugar levels, decreased body fat and increased muscle mass.
More exciting studies target heart disease and cancer. Canadian scientists gave curcumin to mice with enlarged hearts. Not only did it lower the incidence of heart failure (a common outcome of an enlarged heart) but it reversed the condition, restoring heart function. Curcumin also has the ability to stop tumor growth and promote tumor cell breakdown, particularly in colorectal cancer cells.
Earlier research suggests curcumin may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohon’s disease. It’s extract blocks bone breakdown, reducing the risk for osteoporosis. Now, scientists are loking at curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease. In India – where people eat 2 to 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of turmeric daily – Alzheimer rates are one-quarter what they are in the U.S. Currently 10 studies are underway in humans. In the meantime, cotton up to curry in cooking.
Turmeric Honey for Allergies
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that removes excess mucus in the sinuses and helps to heal the respiratory tissue. When you feel your allergy symptoms coming on, you can eat one teaspoon of tumeric honey 3 to 4 times a day.
How to make: In a clean glass jar put 6 tablespoons uncooked honey and 4 tablespoons powdered turmeric. Stir until turmeric is well mixed into the honey.
Don’t take turmeric if you have a bile duct blockage or a blood-clotting disorder, or if you have a history of stomach ulcers; it may negatively affect these conditions. If you have gallstones or any gallbladder problems, you probably should not use turmeric supplements. This caution stems in part from a small 1999 study (of 12 people) which found that curcumin in low doses stimulated contractions of the gallbladder. This means that turmeric could potentially harm a person with gallbladder problems.
Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. Stomach complaints can occur following extended use or in the case of overdose.
Turmeric should not be used during pregnancy.
Read More about: Herbs