Turmeric (Curcuma longa), also commonly known as Haridra or Haldi, is one among 42 species of the genus, Curcuma. Nowadays, it is grown worldwide commercially because of its economic and therapeutic importance.
Turmeric benefits are enormous. Turmeric rhizomes not only have been used as a spice & coloring agent but also in preparation of Ayurvedic medicines in India since antiquity.
Turmeric, the magic medicine of Ayurveda, is still as useful as it was in ancient times. In India, it is still considered for all sort of herbal cosmetics and is used in many Indian rituals.
Turmeric aids in several ailments. It is also one of the crucial ingredients in the majority of Ayurvedic home remedies.
Ayurvedic sages and seers well recognized the usefulness of turmeric. Its uses and formulations have been well-documented in Ayurvedic classical texts as well as in many Indian pieces of literature.
Let’s know more about this wonderful herb, which is ever-present in your kitchen and is easily accessible.
Turmeric – All you need to know
Haridra is the Sanskrit name of turmeric which denotes the yellow color of the flower and rhizomes of the turmeric plant.
Turmeric is a perennial herb of about 90-120 cm in length with a short stem and long tufted leaves. The flowers are borne in pairs and are pale yellow.
The plant has a short rootstock which bears cylindrical tubers. Tubers give rise to many rhizomes that are orange-colored from inside and have a distinct smell and taste. The orange pulp inside is what we call turmeric and use as a spice.
Turmeric is a native of South-east Asia and is grown commercially all over India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Peru, and Jamaica. Indian turmeric is considered the best in the world. India is the largest producer as well as a leading exporter of turmeric in the world.
Rhizomes, leaves, and flowers of the turmeric plant are used in Ayurvedic healing. However, rhizome finds its application in a variety of purposes such as a medicine, spice, coloring agent, and preservative.
Ayurveda describes that turmeric tastes bitter and pungent. It is light to digest and is dry. It shows a pungent post-digestive effect in the body and exhibits heating effects on the body. Turmeric pacifies abnormal kapha and pitta dosha in the body.
What are the Turmeric benefits?
Around the globe, people are getting familiar with turmeric as a traditional Asian spice, but very few know its medicinal virtues. Turmeric has a long history of therapeutic use in traditional Indian medicine.
Many Indian folklore and Ayurvedic texts have several references regarding the benefits of turmeric.
- Ayurvedic texts have accounted for the excellent benefits of turmeric in various kinds of urinary disorders like diabetes mellitus, urinary discharges, and urinary tract infections
- Shows’ lekhana’ action which means that it scrapes unwanted tissue thereby making a person lean
- One of the best healing agents, hence externally applied to sprains, wounds, swelling, hemorrhoids, snake bites, leprosy, and psoriasis
- Widely used in curing a cold, cough, bronchial asthma, running nose, allergies, and excessive thirst
- Regarded as anti-helminthic i.e., fights against growth of worms in body and is used as anti-parasitic in many skin infections
- Pacifies swellings, boils, bruises, itching, bad taste in the mouth, blood infections, ulcers in the nose, smallpox, scabies, etc.
- Cleans blood and treats almost all kinds of skin disorders due to its blood purifying and anti-bacterial action
- Very helpful in treating liver and gall bladder disorders like jaundice, gall stones, and biliousness; stimulates bile secretion, protects the liver from a number of toxic compounds and helps in regeneration of damaged liver tissue
- Prevents clumping of platelets in blood vessels and improves circulation. Thus turmeric helps in protecting artery blockage and heart diseases caused due to it
- Helpful for people with indigestion, gastric inflammation, stomach ache and keeps your stomach healthy
- Increases the production of enzymes which digest fats and sugars
- Acts as a potent anti-bacterial when applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight
- Very useful in pus-filled conjunctivitis and ear infections with chronic discharges
- Highly effective in the treatment of anemia with compromised liver and decreased immunity
- Brightens complexion, reduces hair growth on the skin, used as a cosmetic and keeps your skin glowing
How to use Turmeric?
Turmeric is used in making many Ayurvedic formulations, drugs, and cosmetic products. Turmeric has been used widely in India in a variety of home remedies for various purposes.
To control blood sugar levels in a diabetic patient, either take turmeric powder with honey or mix it with Amalaki juice
- In the case of gout, prepare a decoction of Turmeric and Guduchi (Tinospora) and mix a little honey, take this preparation twice daily
- In arthritis cook turmeric powder with crystal sugar and wheat flour. Make its balls and store in an airtight container. These are very delicious and should be taken twice in a day
In the case of excessive thirst, drink water processed with turmeric, honey, and sugar for the whole day instead of plain water
To cure anemia, daily take a mix of turmeric powder with Triphala powder & ghee
- To improve the glow of skin, make a paste of turmeric powder and red lentil powder mixed with a little milk, and apply on the hands, feet, and face. It also protects skin from any bacterial infection
- In case of blisters on the skin, first, smear the affected part with a thick coating of mustard oil and then dust it with turmeric powder. This cures the problem within 2 to 4 days
In children suffering from intestinal worm infestation, 15 to 20 drops of fresh turmeric juice taken on an empty stomach in the morning gives a guaranteed cure
In liver disorders 5 to 10 drops of fresh turmeric juice with a little sugar or honey is useful
Those suffering from allergies can take a mix of 1 part of Margosa leaf powder, two parts of turmeric powder, and three parts of Amalaki powder. Take this 1 g powder twice daily on an empty stomach
- In any sprain or injury apply a warmed mixture of turmeric powder with salt and lime. It gives quick relief from pain and swelling
- To heal the hemorrhoids apply the paste of turmeric powder with the latex of common milk hedge
For cold & sore throat and in sprains drink milk boiled with 2 g turmeric and sugar. It is a very popular remedy in Indian households
Inhaling smoke of turmeric wicks are very helpful in calming down hysteric fits
- In disorders caused due to Vata dosha such as arthritis, paralysis, sciatica, stiffness, pain in legs and shoulders massage with turmeric oil is beneficial
- Take a small piece of turmeric with tamarind leaves alleviates the painful condition of pox
- Massaging the aching teeth with roasted turmeric powder relieves from pain and swelling
- Applying the paste of 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of mustard oil reduces gingivitis and dental caries. It is recommended to rub the teeth and gums with this paste twice daily
What do recent studies say about Turmeric?
For the last few decades, extensive works have been done to extol the pharmacological actions of turmeric and its extracts. Recent researches have again revalidated the therapeutic effects of turmeric which were well documented in Ayurvedic classics.
Scientists have studied turmeric deeply and have isolated many chemical constituents such as curcumin, zingiberine, polymethyl carbinol, etc. Out of these curcumin has been shown to bear a large number of therapeutic effects.
- A study demonstrated a new anti-tumor activity of curcumin leading to cancer cell senescence
- Curcumin promotes glucose uptake in the body with increased insulin sensitivity in muscles as a potential anti-diabetic therapeutic agent
- Researchers investigated the effects of curcumin on chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS). Results suggest that the curcumin has a potent antidepressant activity
- Strong antioxidant effect of several components of turmeric inhibits carcinogenesis and extract of the spice plays a role as chemo-protective, which limits the development of cancers
- The essential oil of turmeric has shown more marked anti-inflammatory effect than cortisone acetate significantly
- Turmeric reduces oxidative damage and reverses the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin decrease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
- In a study, several risk factors of heart diseases were reduced including cholesterol, triglycerides, and free-radical damage
- Clinical trials have revealed that turmeric reduced cough and respiratory problems. It was noted that more than 65% of cases showed good response and the amount of sputum was also significantly reduced
What is the recommended dose?
Turmeric is primarily a spice which has a heating effect on the body. Thus in the medicinal form, it is used in a limited dose. Turmeric powder can be used in a dose of 2-4 g in a day with milk, water or any other suitable adjuvant.
10-20 ml dose is ideal for taking the juice of fresh turmeric, while decoction can be used in a dose of 50-100 ml per day.
Moreover, it can be incorporated as a condiment in our daily diet, including rice, stews, soups, etc. Regular intake of turmeric will improve digestion, reduce bloating, protect the liver, and develop active immunity for further prevention of illness.
Haridra – Poor man’s saffron
Haridra (turmeric) is one of the best medicines which could be used on an individual basis in many diseases. The great traveler Marco Polo describes turmeric as an herb having all properties of real saffron. Hence, it is also called as ‘poor man’s saffron.’
Turmeric is an excellent example of a food with medicinal qualities. It is good for both either healthy or diseased. You can easily have all the benefits of this safe, non-toxic, and effective herb, just by including it in your everyday life.