Turmeric has always been integral part of Indian kitchen with varied uses – as a condiment to medicine . In this article , the journey of Turmeric from ancient times to present has been tried to explore .
Family : Zingiberacaeae
Botanical Name : Curcuma longa
English Name : Turmeric
Hindi Name : Haldi
Synonyms : Haridra ( Symbolizing special bond with Hari / Lord Vishnu or one which improves skin complexion)
Kanchani ( Which gives colour of gold )
Nisha ( Related to night )
Krimighna ( Which kills germs )
Yoshita priya ( Liked by women )
The Plant :
It is an annual herb . Orange to yellow coloured rhizomes grow underground . Leaves are 30 – 40 cm in length and smell like ginger . Petiole is long and broad like leaves and it smells like mango . The stalk of the flower is 12 – 16 cm long and yellow flower grows at its tip . Fruit is oval with deep yellow pulp.
The yellow of turmeric is a virile colour , colour of sun spreading across the sky and reaching out to the earth . When sprinkled over deity , the idea is to evoke the deity’s grace and power. Turmeric is antiseptic – destroyer of germs as Gods destroy demons .
Yellow is the colour of Solar Plexus Chakra – which is the energy centre relating to the metabolic and digestive system .
As a ritual in Indian weddings , brides and grooms are anointed with turmeric paste . Turmeric is sprinkled on invitation cards also .
Turmeric improves fertility and is considered as a symbol of purity and prosperity.
Culinary Uses :
Fresh leaves are used in cooking .
Leaf is added in Ghee ( clarified butter ) for aroma .
Raw turmeric is used as pickle .
As a condiment ( in powdered form ) in most of the Indian food .
Properties of Turmeric :
Taste : Bitter , Acrid
Properties : Dry , Light
Potency : Hot
Post Digestive Property : Acrid
It balances Vata , Pitta , Kapha and is mainly used in vitiated condition of Kapha and Pitta .
It is used as thermogenic , antiseptic , anti inflammatory , appetizer , carminative , anthelmintic , anti allergic , expectorant , haematinic , styptic , febrifuge , tonic , vulnerary , alterative.
It is used in ulcers , skin disorders , hepatomegaly , spleenomegaly , hyperlipidemia , malignancy , diabetes , arthritis , jaundice , bronchitis and general debility .
Post natal period : Haridra khand pak has purifying effect on uterus and breast milk .
Diabetes : 10 – 15 ml juice of turmeric and gooseberry ( Amla ) in equal quantity should be taken daily as a prophylactic measure . If juice is not available , powder of both herbs should be taken in equal quantity . This is called ‘ Nisha – amalaki Yog’.
Bronchial Asthma / Cough : It acts as an expectorant .
It is roasted and given with honey or warm water .
Inhalation of turmeric smoke reduces cough .
Put it in saline water for 21 days and then parched on fire ,should be kept in mouth. It checks hiccough , cough , asthma , disorders of kapha .
Anaemia : It should be mixed with Triphla ( three myrobalans ) , honey , ghee ( clarified butter ) for internal use .
Colic : Turmeric 10 gm with equal quantity of yavani ( Trachyspermum amami ) and salt 2.5 gm is powdered and cooked in ghee 40 gm . It should be taken warm in severe colic.
Paronychia : Fresh rhizome ground with milk and castor oil is applied externally.
Bone fracture / Sprain / Wound :
External : It is applied locally with lime stone .
Internal : Powder mixed with Murraya paniculata is given. It can be given with Candy Sugar ( Mishri ).
Disorders due to change of place : Turmeric pounded with sour gruel should be taken .
As a Cosmetic : It’s paste is applied on face in combination with either cucumber / honey / milk / curd /aloe or rosewater . It enhances complexion and texture of skin. Paste made with turmeric powder and gram flour can be used as a body scrub .
Teeth : Brushing teeth with turmeric powder and mustard oil or salt or alum , clears tartar and teeth become white .
Dose : Juice – 5 – 10 ml ; Powder – 1 – 3 gm
Active Principles : Present studies have shown that Curcumin , Curcuminoids and essential oil are the main active constituents of turmeric. Curcumin imparts yellow colour and is responsible for its biological activity.
Anti – Oxidant Property : Anti – Oxidants can act at different levels .These are broadly classified into 5 Levels – Level – 1 , Level -2 , Level – 3 , Level – 4 , Level – 5.
Level – 1 : Prevention of radical formation , mainly by enhancing the levels of SOD and catalase or by sequestering transient metals like iron.
Level -2 : Scavenging of primary radical ( OH , O₂ ,ⁱO₂ ) or breaking chain initiation .
Level – 3 : Scavenging of secondary radical ( ROO ,LOO ) or breaking the chain of propagation (conventionally studied as inhibitory lipid peroxidation ).
Level -4 : Repair and reconstruction of lipid membrane aided by glutathione peroxidase or by increase in level of glutathione .
Level – 5 : Repair of DNA and other cellular constituents .
Turmeric works at Level – 2 , Level – 3 and Level – 4 .
Anti inflammatory Property : Curcumin shows an anti inflammatory effect in acute , subacute and chronic models of inflammation in mice and rats . It also exerts a significant response in a controlled trial in Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis .
Hepatoprotective : Turmeric and Curcumin have been shown to protect liver against a variety of toxins in-vivo and in-vitro . Turmeric in diet has been found to stimulate enzymes – aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase , glucuronyl transferase , glutathione S transferase which metabolise xenobiotics.
Respiratory System : It is useful in Bronchial Asthma . Its anti allergic effects are also proven.
Immunostimulant Activity : Stimulates reticulo endothelial system , acts as immune stimulant .