Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Indian saffron, Haldi, Kunyit
Main Facts about Turmeric
You probably know turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine. Turmeric has its origins most likely in India but today it can be found in most tropical regions of the world. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family and looks like orange yellow ginger.
Using TurmericTurmeric has been used traditionally as an anti-septic to treat cuts, bruises, and burns, psoriasis, ulcers, warts and scabies. It is used as an anti-aging herb because of its excellent anti-oxidant properties, which can prevent free radical damage. Turmeric also acts as an anti-inflammatory and is used as a dietary supplement as it is believed to cure stomach ailments such as flatulence, bloating and appetite loss. Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, has a positive effect on the liver tissue. Even liver tissue that has been damaged by excessive exposure to alcohol or other damaging drugs can be positively affected by turmeric. Curcumin’s pain-relieving properties have made it suitable in providing relief to patients suffering from arthritis and rheumatism. Recent studies from UCLA have even suggested that curcumin may even be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin prevents the accumulation of beta amyloids and breaks up plaques found in Alzheimer’s sufferers’ brains. Using turmeric may have effects on slowing or preventing many forms of cancer. Regular washing with turmeric reduces facial hair growth and wrinkles significantly.
Caution!Turmeric should be used with caution in people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and those who are scheduled for surgery as large amounts of turmeric can increase bleeding time. High doses of turmeric can act as a blood thinner and cause stomach upset. Avoid turmeric/curcumin if you take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), are pregnant or have gallbladder disease.
Cooking with TurmericTurmeric can be used in food and it is readily available in powdered or liquid forms. Turmeric powder can be consumed with herb based teas, honey or hot water to treat stomach problems. Internally Turmeric can be also used in the form of boiled powder or fresh juice. It id used as a condiment in many cuisines. Externally it can be used in paste form, as an oil, ointment or lotion. The paste form can be applied topically . Turmeric root can be squeezed to extract juice which is then mixed with water. In food and manufacturing, the essential oil of turmeric is used in perfumes, and its resin is used as a flavor and color component in foods. Curcumin extracts in liquid form are also available.
How to grow TurmericIt can take up to 10 months for a new crop of roots to develop, and it’s not a plant that you can harvest in small pieces through the season. To propagate Turmeric use the roots. The easiest way to get it to sprout is to just bury the root under 2 inches of loose potting soil. If there are any knobs or buds on the root, turn it so they are facing upwards. Keep it damp but not sopping wet or the root may rot. In a month or so, you should see sprouts come up. If you are going to grow Turmeric outside, you can transplant it out in the late fall. For indoor plants, you can do this anytime. The majority of people grow it indoors, and it does grow fine in pots. It will likely grow too large for a windowsill but can thrive in a sunny room. Choose a container that is at least 12 inches across and the same in depth to give your plants room to grow. Eventually, the plant will start to turn yellow and the leaves will start to dry out. That’s when it is ready to dig up.