Turmeric, an orangey-yellow spice that comes from a root belonging to the ginger family, is an important ingredient in Indian curries and also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color.
The medicinal properties of turmeric have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries.
Long-known for its anti-inflammatory and immune supporting properties, recent researches have revealed that this spice is a natural wonder, providing benefits in the treatment of many different health conditions.
Turmeric might just end up being the most important spice in your cabinet.
What is turmeric
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant; has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh.
It has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin.
Turmeric has been used for over 2500 years in India, where it was first used as a dye.
Turmeric is promoted mainly as an anti-inflammatory herbal remedy and is said to produce fewer side effects than commonly used pain relievers.
Inflammation is the root of many chronic diseases that cause our health to deteriorate — and curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
Some practitioners prescribe turmeric to relieve inflammation caused by arthritis, muscle sprains, swelling, and pain caused by injuries or surgical incisions. It is also promoted as a treatment for rheumatism and as an antiseptic for cleaning wounds.
Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant.
Some studies have shown that curcumin may interfere with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread.
Researchers are currently studying curcumin to learn to which extent curcumin is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and whether it holds any promise for cancer prevention or treatment.
Turmeric use in traditional medicine
The use of turmeric was described in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
In various Asian folk medicine traditions, turmeric has been used to treat a long list of conditions, including diarrhea, fever, bronchitis, colds, parasitic worms, leprosy, and bladder and kidney inflammations.
Herbalists have applied turmeric salve to bruises, leech bites, festering eye infections, mouth inflammations, skin conditions, and infected wounds.
Some people inhale smoke from burning turmeric to relieve chronic coughs. Turmeric mixed with hot water and sugar is considered by some herbalists to be a remedy for colds.
In India and Malaysia, there is a custom of making turmeric paste to apply directly onto the skin, a practice now under study for the possibility that it may prevent skin cancer.
Recipes with turmeric
Here are some of my fave recipes using turmeric:
Ginger and Turmeric Carrot SoupTomato Curry with Creamy Cauliflower Rice
Spicy Turmeric Chicken
Saffron Risotto with Ginger and Turmeric