Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is an ages old spice that is being used for the past 4000 years in Southeast Asia, initially as a dye for holy robes. Even today there is hardly any Indian dish that is completed without adding turmeric to it. It is cultivated in tropical regions of Bengal, India, Pakistan, China, SriLanka and Indonesia. It is a relative of ginger and has a bitter taste and mild fragrance.

Due to its deep orange-yellow color the spice is also known as, “Indian Saffron”; although the two shouldn’t be confused as both vary in tastes and benefits. The name turmeric is derived from Latin word Terra Merita meaning “Meritorious Earth”. Other common names are yellow root, haldi, haridra and jiang huang. Its botanical names are Curcuma Longa and Curcuma Domestica.

It is amazing how some commonly found spice on kitchen shelves could have so many health benefits. Natalie Kling from Natural Healing Institute of Neuropathy says, “As an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic, it’s a very powerful plant”.

It is one of the best health supplements and is undoubtedly a gift of nature as something so inexpensive has benefits, so worthwhile. It is one of the cheapest spices worldwide.

Turmeric plant in botanical gardens, Singapore

Turmeric plant in botanical gardens, Singapore

Besides the fact that it adds flavor to the curries, it has proven to be highly beneficial as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and has been used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Here are some key benefits of the herb:

  • Currently it is being used in beauty products and has been able to cure many skin related problems. To avoid skin pigmentation or to gain even skin tone, mix a pinch of turmeric powder with cucumber and lemon juice and apply it to face for some time and wash it off. A frequent use of this mixture can give a perfect glow to your face
  • If your hand or any other part of your body is burned accidently, take a tea spoon of turmeric powder and add to aloe gel, apply it to the burned area. It is the best, quickest and easy remedy for all kinds of burns
  • For minor cuts and bruises a turmeric paste can help heal the skin quickly. For bumps the paste can act as an ice pack and reduce swelling
  • A glass of hot turmeric milk is helpful in healing bones that have been fractured and also act as a pain killer
  • It helps cure gum and throat infections. For those who have gum infections a mixture of turmeric, mustard oil and rock salt can prove very beneficial, if applied to the affected area twice or thrice a day. Use warm water to wash your mouth after application. For throat infections use a spoonful of turmeric mixed in hot milk and drink, it will soothe your throat and help cure the infection as well
  • Throw away all those expensive creams for reducing stretch marks, just apply a mixture of turmeric with yogurt and apply it to the abdomen for 5 minutes. It will help the skin maintain its elasticity and you will notice a visible difference
  • Turmeric contains an essential component called Curcumin; recent studies by the doctors conducted at UCLA proved that Curcumin helps cure Cancer by blocking the enzymes that promote growth of malignant cells of head, neck and breast. Further, a decrease in the size of brain tumors by 81% in animals has also been noticed by (replace: with) the use of Curcumin
  • Turmeric provides protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s. Studies show a very low rate of neurological diseases in elderly people in India due to a regular intake of the spice
  • For anemic patients a teaspoon turmeric and honey can prove to be beneficial
  • Diarrhea can also be cured if turmeric powder is taken mixed with water
  • Turmeric prevents the negative effects of processed foods and even help cure smoking hazards
  • It protects DNA from damaging pollutants and therefore helps to prevent leukemia
  • Can’t get rid of acne? You may have tried various products, a cheap and easy remedy is: mix some turmeric with sandalwood powder and make a paste with water and apply on face
  • According to Randy J. Horwitz, M.D. at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, turmeric serves as the most powerful anti-inflammatory. He conducted a study on rats injected with rheumatoid arthritis and found turmeric helpful in reducing the symptoms
  • Turmeric helps to reduce gas in people having indigestion; also it helps in production of bile by stimulating the gallbladder and helps detoxify the liver
  • Uveitis, a disease in which inflammation of the iris of the eye occurs, is curable with Curcumin found in turmeric
  • It reduces the risk of heart diseases such as atherosclerosis. Studies have proven a reduction in bad cholesterol and blood clots along the walls of the arteries, by the use of turmeric
  • A study conducted in Thailand published by a journal called Diabetes Care, proved that Curcumin found in turmeric helped cure diabetes in adults having pre-diabetes symptoms
  • The drug has also been found useful in curing depression and maintaining body weight

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Such a magical spice should be made a part of the daily diet. There are various ways it can be used in cooked foods and salads. For those who can’t get used to its taste pills of 200-250mg are also available at health food stores.

Image courtesy: Flickr, Abhishek Kumar &  Flickr, SummerTomato