Turmeric: Indian Saffron And A Golden Herb

Turmeric: Indian Saffron And A Golden Herb

Turmeric, scientifically named as Curcuma longa , belonging to Zingiberaceae family, is one of the most useful and powerful herbal medicinal plants. Turmeric is a common spice used in its Rhizome form, by people all around the world, especially in Asia. In Indian tradition, it is called "Haldi," and is a holy medication that has multiple uses. It is used in festivals and Poojas, and is an indispensable part of marriage rituals, too. In many Hindu cultures, it is often applied  topically as a paste, on the bride-to-be, to bless their new life. In Yogic tradition, it is used to cleanse our nadis and chakras. It has a hallowed quality to it. It has uses as a cosmetic, and as a vital food spice too. It has also been used as home remedies for colds, coughs, seasonal problems, infections, wounds, and skin diseases, among other things, due to its amazing medicinal and therapeutic qualities. Needless to say, that with it many qualities and applications, turmeric is truly a boon to humankind. 

Sanskrit names and synonyms of Turmeric:

Haldi, being of immense importance and vitatlity, has been in use since ancient times. Following are few names by which Turmeric has been typically referred to, in India:

Haridra- Dear to lord Hari (Krishna),
Nisha- Beautiful as night,
Rajani- Dyes the clothes with yellow colour,
Kanchani- Golden In colour, and brings out golden body complexion,
Yoshitpriya- Women adore it,
Gandhaplashika – Smells good,
Jayanti- Wins over diseases, etc.

Ayurvedic composition of Turmeric:

Taste: Pungent (Katu rasa), Bitter (Tikta Rasa)
Qualities: Dry (Ruksha guna), Light (Laghu guna)
Potency: Hot (Ushna veerya)
Post-digestion taste: Pungent (Katu vipaka)
Effect on tridoshas:  Balances kapha and pitta (Kapha-Pittahara) , also checks vata (Vatashamak)

Major components of Turmeric:

The major composition of Turmeric includes: Curcumin, Curcumenone, Curcone, Volatile oils, Starch, Albuminoids, Eugenols, etc. It is a rich source of Fatty Omega acid and Linoleic acid, along with other nutrients.

Health Benefits of Turmeric:

Turmeric is an excellent healer, and can aid in the same, in the following ways:

Anti-inflammatory activity:

Curcumin has the ability to inhibit a number of compounds that have been linked to inflammation.

Pain reliever:

Active principles present in turmeric reduces pain associated with joints (mainly), gums, teeth, and generalized body pain.

Immunity booster:

Turmeric corrects metabolism and replenishes tissues. It increases body strength and enhances the physiological functioning, thereby increasing our immunity.

Improves liver function:

Through it’s ayurvedic properties, turmeric removes blockage in the liver and restores hematopoietic (liver-associated) function. It improvises the quality and quantity of blood, so, it is also helpful to patients with Anemia. It aids in the process of detoxification of the elements passing through the liver too, thus freeing our body of unwanted toxins.

Supports digestive system:

Due to it’s hot potency, it corrects our digestive fire. It acts as a healer to our digestive tract. It also adds flavour to our food, making it tasty.

Lowers heart diseases:

Curcumin present in turmeric helps in lowering blood cholesterol level, so, it reduces risk of manifestation of heart diseases. It is also found to be useful in patients who are already suffering from cardiac problems.

Reduces risk of cancer:

Turmeric can reduce the growth and progression of cancer. Research shows, that it has been proven to be effective against prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc.

Prevent diabetes:

According to Ayurveda, Turmeric is a drug of choice for diabetes, i.e., Harida prameh-haranam by Ashtang Hridya. Due to its active principles, it is a good choice for pre-diabetics, diabetics and other patients, suffering from related urinary disorders.

Combating Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis:

By the virtue of it’s anti-inflammatory potency, researchers have found turmeric to be safer and of prolonged use in getting rid of diseases, like Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.

Promotes brain activity:

Turmeric increases the level of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which is responsible for regulating coordination, memory, learning, intelligence, etc. Curcumin in turmeric helps in delaying or reversing neuron degeneration, thus helping out in neurological disorders, like: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Depression, Anxiety, etc.

Skin health:

Due to it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-microbial nature, turmeric is miraculously effective in treating skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, acne, etc., and also aids in brightening complexion, filling up pores, etc. It can be used topically over face as face pack, etc.

Anti aging supplement:

Curcumin being a strong anti-oxidant, inhibits production of free radicals, hence preventing cell damage, and helping to promote growth of new cells. So, collectively, all its qualities makes it a wonderful anti-aging agent.

Wound healer:

Its antiseptic and antibacterial properties heals wounds, and prevents them from contracting any infection.

Helps with weight loss:

Curcumin suppresses growth of fat tissues and inflammation in muscle cells, pancreatic cells, etc. It increases bile production if used properly, so, fat emulsification is enhanced. Therefore, it exhibits anti-obesity properties.

Topical application:

Turmeric can be used in both ways- orally, as well as topically. It can be applied to skin as a powder to stop bleeding, and as a paste for the treatment of wounds, and for tackling skin problems.

Other uses:

Turmeric also has extensive uses in healing:

  • Cough and cold,
  • Fever,
  • Allergic rhinitis,
  • Premenstrual syndrome,
  • Dental pain,
  • Piles,
  • Eye itching, etc.

How to use:

Here are a few ways to use turmeric for common ailments:

  • If you are suffering from seasonal allergies-Take a pinch of turmeric and add it to a cup of hot milk/ water. Drink this on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning.
  • For glowing and soft skin- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder with water, milk or yoghurt, to form a wet paste. Gently scrub the paste on damp face in circular strokes. Rinse with cool water.
  • For cuts and wounds- In case you ever get a cut over your skin and need to prevent instant bleeding, just sprinkle some turmeric powder over it. It might itch a little, but it works very well.
  • For itchy eyes- A cup of water, mixed with 2 pinches of turmeric, can be used to wash eyes, to relieve itching.
  • To enhance immunity- It can be used as golden milk for immunity and for helping with seasonal diseases. (Recipe available at our website)
  • To get rid of cough- i) A pinch of turmeric added to lukewarm water can be used for gargling on empty stomach to expel congested mucus in throat. ii) Mix honey and turmeric powder and consume it in paste form in case you have wet cough.
  • Aids in digestion- Add a pinch of turmeric to a cup of buttermilk to boost your digestive fire .
  • Controlling diabetes- Turmeric, when used with Amla powder and consumed before food, can help to control diabetes.
  • To enhance nutritional value of food: It can be simply added to food while cooking, which makes it easy to consume and the body is able to absorb all nutrients.
  • Balancing the Vata: 2 pinches (1 gram) of turmeric, mixed with half a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) can be consumed daily, for Vata Dosha balance.
  • For cardiovascular health- Take ¼ teaspoon of Turmeric powder. Boil it in 20-40 ml water for 5-6 minutes. Cool it to room temperature. Add 2 teaspoon honey to it and mix well. Drink 2 teaspoons of this mixture twice a day after any meal. It helps to reduce blood cholesterol level.
  • For wound healing- Heat a teaspoon of ghee, add turmeric powder to it, and make a paste. Apply this to would topically.
  • An integral part of many medicines- Turmeric is available in many formulations as the main ingredient. For example: Haridra Khand, Khadiradi Vati, Harida Adrak Avaleh, etc.

# NOTE: Turmeric or curcuma should not be confused with tree turmeric.

Always consider taking prescription from an Ayurvedic doctor before taking any medication. 

Author: Dr. Monika Mittal
Editor: Debleena Chatterjee
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  • Vagbhata Astanga hrudaya with the commentaries of Arunadatta and Hemadri , Pt. Hari Sadasiva Sastri.
  • Susrutha Susrutha samhitha with Nibandha samgraha commentary , Vaidya Jadavji Trikamji.
  • Charaka Charaka samhitha revised by Dipika commentary of Chakrapanidatta , Vaidya Jadavji Trikamji Acharya.
  • Dhanwantari Nighantu, Guduchyadi Varga , B. K. Diwedi.
  • Sri Bhavamisra Bhavaprakasa Nighantu , G. S. Pandey.
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
  • https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric
  • https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.easyayurveda.com/2013/10/23/turmeric-curcuma-longa-benefits-usage-dose-side-effects/

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Photography: Taylor Kiser