Nov 7 - 20, 2011

Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical south Asia and needs temperatures between 20∞C and 30∞C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.

Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes that are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine for dyeing and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.

In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian saffron, since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive saffron spice. Erode, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is the world's largest producer and most important trading center of turmeric in Asia. For these reasons, Erode in history is also known as "Yellow City" or "Turmeric City". Sangli, a town in the southern part of the Indian western state of Maharashtra, is the second largest and most important trading center for turmeric in Asia. Turmeric is commonly called haldi in Pakistan and India and mainly used in curry.

Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called "Indian saffron" because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy, and textile dye. Turmeric was traditionally called Indian saffron since its deep yellow-orange color is similar to that of the prized saffron. It has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy, and textile dye.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. This herb has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm, and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger to which it is related.

Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, including being a revered member of the Ayurveda pharmacopeia.

While Arab traders introduced it into Europe in the 13th century, it has only recently become popular in Western cultures. Much of its recent popularity is owed to the recent research that has highlighted its therapeutic properties. The leading commercial producers of turmeric include India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. Raw turmeric strengthens cartilage and bone structure. It is traditionally taken in warm milk at night before sleep. Some may use turmeric in skin creams as an antiseptic agent for cuts, burns, and bruises. It is popular as a tea in Okinawa and Japan.

Turmeric paste is traditionally used by Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair and as an antimicrobial. Turmeric paste, as part of both home remedies and Ayurveda, is also said to improve the skin and touted as an anti-aging agent.

Turmeric figures prominently in the bridal beautification ceremonies of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Staining oneself with turmeric is believed to improve the skin tone and tan. Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sunscreens.

Turmeric makes a poor fabric dye, as it is not very light fast (it fades with exposure to sunlight). However, turmeric is commonly used in Indian clothing, such as saris. Turmeric can also be used to deter ants. The exact reasons why turmeric repels ants is unknown, but anecdotal evidence suggests it works. Turmeric is considered highly auspicious in India and has been used extensively in various Indian ceremonies for millennia. Even today, it is used in every part of India during wedding ceremonies and religious ceremonies.

In India, as a part of the marriage ritual, dried turmeric tuber tied with string is used to replace the Mangalsutra temporarily or permanently. The Hindu Marriage Act recognizes this custom. Thali necklace is the equivalent of marriage rings of west. Modern Neopagans list it with the quality of fire, and it is used for power and purification rites. Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its flavor and yellow color. It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese. Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds.

Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots. Research suggests that turmeric may be helpful for the following conditions.

Curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which some people think may help improve digestion. The German Commission, which determines which herbs can be safely prescribed in Germany, has approved turmeric for digestive problems. And, one double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that turmeric reduced symptoms of bloating and gas in people suffering from indigestion.

Turmeric may help people with ulcerative colitis stay in remission. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the digestive tract where symptoms tend to come and go. Turmeric does not seem to help treat stomach ulcers.

In fact, there is some evidence that it may increase stomach acid, making existing ulcers worse. Because of its ability to reduce inflammation, researchers have wondered if turmeric may help relieve osteoarthritis pain.

One study found that people using an Ayurvedic formula of herbs and minerals with turmeric, winter cherry (Withinia somnifera), boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and zinc had less pain and disability. But it is impossible to know whether it was turmeric or one of the other supplements or all of them together -- that was responsible.

Early studies suggested that turmeric may help prevent atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque that can block arteries and lead to heart attack or stroke. In animal studies, an extract of turmeric lowered cholesterol levels and kept LDL "bad" cholesterol from building up in blood vessels.

Because it stops platelets from clumping together, turmeric may also prevent blood clots from building up along the walls of arteries. But, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that taking curcumin, the active ingredient in turrmeric, at a dose of up to four g per day did not improve cholesterol levels.

There has been a great deal of research on turmeric's anti-cancer properties, but results are still very early. Evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancers including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer. Its preventive effects may be because it is a strong antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.