Also known as: Indian Saffron
Parts Used: rhizome or root
Meridians/Organs affected: heart, liver, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, circulatory, reproductive
Properties: emmenogogue, aromatic, stimulant, cholagogue, alterative, analgesic, astringent, antiseptic, hepatic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-arthritic, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic
Turmeric is a tender perennial native to India. It has a large, gold-toned rhizome or root, elliptical shaped leaves and small yellow flowers that appear on a pineapple-shaped flower head in summer. It is a member of the Zingiberaceae family along with ginger and cardamom.
Turmeric has been grown in Asia for over 2000 years. It was first mentioned in the Chinese medicinal text 'Tang Materia Medica' in 659 AD. Its main use has been as an orange or yellow dye for fabrics (used by monks). In Ayurvedic medicine it has been used for millennia for all types of digestive issues. It promotes digestion and blood circulation, activates liver function and helps to regulate and balance hormones. It has been used to dissolve and prevent gallstones, lower blood sugar, regulate menstrual cycles, normalize energy flow, and treat hepatitis. It has been added to several remedies for gallbladder and liver issues or in herbal combinations for liver diseases. It has been used externally for sores, minor injuries, skin diseases and ringworm, and to massage sore muscles. In Asia, turmeric is used for stomach disorders, blood clots, jaundice, obesity, and menstrual issues: German and Indian studies have found it to protect the body against gallbladder disease and to prevent blood clots. Many countries use it effectively for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The Chinese have used it to reduce uterine tumors and as a cooling herb.
Turmeric has also been shown to increase the production of enzymes in the liver that metabolize toxins (similar to milk thistle in that regard). It has also been proven effective against many gram negative and gram positive bacteria such as Bacillus Subtilis (bacteria found in contaminated food), E.Coli, kiebsiella pneumonie (normal bacteria found in the mouth, skin and intestines but harmful to the lungs if inhaled), staph, salmonella and shigella (intestinal disease that causes bloody stools/diarrhea), as well as several yeasts and molds.
Turmeric is one of the major spices found in curries and mustards. It is used to flavor soups, sauces, meat dishes, relishes, gravies, chutneys, and as a condiment. In many Asian countries it is substituted for saffron although it tastes nothing like it and cannot really a good substitute for it.
This herb is a powerhouse of healing ability. Most people who don't include curries in their diet would be wise to encapsulate it and take it as a supplement. It is a good source of vitamin C, K and E as well as zinc, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron and sodium.
It has been found effective against an assortment of cancers (breast, colon, prostate, leukemia), to boost the immune system, reduce cholesterol, and improve cognitive functions. In India turmeric is consumed daily and that country has the lowest rate of Alzheimer's disease. Something to think about....
Pregnant women are advised to avoid this herb as it stimulates menses. Those who are on liver medications, diabetes medications, or blood thinners are also advised to consult a physician before consuming turmeric on a regular basis.
As is customary with my posts I am including some links herein for your benefit. Use them well!