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Turmeric
Zingiberaceae
Curcuma longa


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Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb


Zingiberaceae Family

Curcuma Genus

Location

Native to tropical South America

Physical Description
A relative of ginger, turmeric is a perennial plant that grows 5 - 6 feet high, with trumpet-shaped, dull yellow flowers. Its roots are bulbs that also produce rhizomes, which then produce stems and roots for new plants


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Zingiberaceae
Zingiberales
Zingiberales
Commelinidae
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
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Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
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Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of ailments.

Turmeric can obviously stand the test of time. It has been worshipped, reveled and revered by people for centuries, and still today it is one of the most significant players in the prevention of serious disease as well as the general afflictions of living. Much more research is underway to prove scientifically what the ancient people of India have known for centuries: that turmeric is one of the most powerful plants on the planet. Whether suffering from an acute or chronic disease, aches and pains, bumps and bruises, or as preventative maintenance, turmeric can and should be utilized by everyone on a regular basis. In the words of David Frawley: “If I had only a single herb to depend upon for all possible health and dietary needs, I would without much hesitation choose the Indian spice turmeric

Medicinal Uses: In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric is thought to have many medical properties and many in South Asia use it as a readily available antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine say it has fluorides which is thought to be essential for teeth. It is also used as an antibacterial agent.

It is taken in some Asian countries as a dietary supplement, which allegedly helps with stomach problems and other ailments. It is popular as a tea in Okinawa, Japan. Pakistanis also use it as an anti-inflammatory agent, and remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive disorders. In Afghanistan and North West Pakistan, turmeric is applied to a piece of burnt cloth, and placed over a wound to cleanse and stimulate recovery. Indians, in addition to its Ayurvedic properties, use turmeric in a wide variety of skin creams that are also exported to neighboring countries. It is currently being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and liver disorders.

In the latter half of the 20th century, curcumin was identified as responsible for most of the biological effects of turmeric. According to a 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal, research activity into curcumin is exploding. In that year supplement sales increased 35% from 2004, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health had four clinical trials underway to study curcumin treatment for pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, Alzheimer’s, and colorectal cancer. Curcumin also enhances the production of rotrophic factor, or BDNF, which supports nerve growth

There is evidence that piperine, found in black pepper, improves the absorption of turmeric. In 1998 researchers at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India found that curcumin taken with 20 mg of piperine increased the absorption of curcumin by 2000%, with no adverse effects. This means that a low dose of curcumin (or turmeric for that matter) could have a greater effect in terms of health benefits when combined with piperine than a large dose of curcumin or turmeric would.

Food Uses: In non-South Asian recipes, turmeric is sometimes used as an agent to impart a rich, custard-like yellow color. It has found application in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatins, etc. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders. Turmeric is used in savory dishes, not sweet ones.

Although usually used in its dried, powdered form, Turmeric is also used fresh - much like ginger. It has numerous uses in far east recipes, such as fresh turmeric pickle (which contains large chunks of soft turmeric).

Turmeric (coded as E100 when used as a foods additive) is used to protect food products from sunlight. The oleoresin is used for oil-containing products. The curcumin polysorbate solution or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water containing products. Over-coloring, such as in pickles, relishes and mustard, is sometimes used to compensate for fading.

In combination with annatto (E160b), turmeric has been used to color cheeses, yogurt, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine. Turmeric is also used to give a yellow color to some prepared mustards, canned chicken broths and other foods (often as a much cheaper replacement for saffron).

Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Momos (Nepali meat dumplings), a traditional dish in South Asia, are spiced with turmeric. In South Africa turmeric is traditionally used to give boiled white rice a golden color.

Other Notes: It's what gives curry powder its vibrant yellow hue. It's also the ingredient that makes American-style mustard so yellow.

Traditionally, turmeric was also used to dye the marriage clothing. It was believed that any clothing dyed with turmeric was protection from fever. New clothes would sometimes be stained with a paste of turmeric, lime, and water.





Turmeric
Koehlers Medicinal-Plants 1887 [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Turmeric, Curcuma longa

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