Turmeric | THE GOLDEN SPICE, Benefits Uses, Recipes , and Side Effects

Turmeric is a perineal herbaceous plant that belongs to the ginger family. It has tuberous rhizomes or underground stems used as a textile dye, condiment, and aromatic stimulant. 

Turmeric has a pepper-like aroma, a bitterly warm taste, and a yellowish-orange color which a pigment called curcumin provides. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is widely used in medicines for different healing purposes. 

Table of contents

An Overview of Turmeric

History

Cultivation

Harvesting

Processing  & Preserving

Types of Turmeric

Curcumin – Turmeric Root Extract

  • Process of Extraction

Uses of Turmeric

  • In Natural Medicine
  • In Food
  • As a Dye
  • In Rituals and Occasions
  • As a Sacred Decoration

10 Benefits of Turmeric

Side Effects & Warnings

Side Effects In Women

Who Should Not Eat Turmeric?

Conclusion

An Overview of Turmeric

With this brief intro to the Golden Spice, let us have a detailed overview of this natural plant. 

History

The history of Turmeric is said to be as old as 4000 years. It was found to be used first in India. The Indian people used it as a culinary spice and had built some spiritual bonding with it. From India, Turmeric reached China in 700 AD and Africa in 1200 AD. In 1280, however, Marco Polo introduced Turmeric as a vegetable having similar properties to saffron. Finally, in the 18th century, Turmeric reached the third-largest island of the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica. 

The Ayurvedic and Unani systems and the Sanskrit medical papers suggest that Turmeric has been used widely in medicines for many years in South Asia. For example, in Susruta’s Ayurvedic Compendium, a medicine mixed with Turmeric can deactivate the effect of poisonous food. 

Different cultures and languages give other names to Turmeric. The most common term used for Turmeric all over the world is ‘Yellow root.’ In north India, Turmeric is called Haldi, influenced by the Sanskrit word haridra, and in south India, it is called ‘manjal.’  

The phrase ‘turmeric’ is derived from the Latin word ‘terra merita,’ which refers to the yellowish color of ground turmeric. In French, it is called ‘terre merite.’ I the Sanskrit language only, there are 53 different names for Turmeric, showing the religious attachment of their people and culture with Turmeric. 

Cultivation

Turmeric bulb on the floor and turmeric powder in a bowel

When we talk about turmeric cultivation, it is said that India produces the most Turmeric in the world. Turmeric is native to India and Indonesia both. It is cultivated in the tropical or hilly areas, the mainland of India, and the island of the Indian Ocean. India produces more than 95% of the world’s Turmeric and consumes 80% of it. 

There are some specific requirements of climate and soil for the cultivation of Turmeric. 

  • The herb needs a hilly or tropical area from sea level to 1500m for

Ideal growth. 

  • The suitable temperature for the cultivation and growth of herbs is 20 to 300 C. 
  • The annual rainfall of the cultivation area must be 1500 to 2250mm. 
  • Turmeric grows well in sandy, damp, well-drained clayey loam-rich soil.

Light black, red soils, ashy loam, and clay loams all are great for turmeric growth.

Harvesting

Turmeric plants take 8 to 9 months to grow and harvest when the leaves dry and turn brown. The plant is tipped out from the soil, and the soil on rhizomes is cleaned. The stems are cut off an inch above the rhizomes, and the rhizomes are washed thoroughly. 

Processing & Preserving

After harvesting, processing takes place. Before preservation, the rhizomes of Turmeric need to be processed. For processing, rhizomes at put in water and boiled for about 40 to 60 minutes. Then, rub the rhizomes with soft hands and get the cooked herb rhizomes dried in sunlight. It will take about 15 days to dry the turmeric rhizomes completely. Finally, you can make turmeric powder by grinding the rhizomes in a grinding machine or a coffee grinder. 

You can preserve the turmeric powder for six months in a refrigerator. However, you should keep them in a freezer if you plan to use them longer than six months. In some parts of the world, the herb is sold in rhizome form and stored easily in the fridge for six months. 

Types of Turmeric

We can classify Turmeric into five types. However, these types of Turmeric are similar to each other in one way or the other. 

Kasturi Manjal: The first type of Turmeric is Kasturi Manjal, also known as Curcuma aromatic, because it is famous for its intense aroma. People use Kasturi Manjal as a beautification cosmetic. For example, a paste of Kasturi Manjal is spread all over a bride’s body to make her look beautiful, especially in India and Pakistan. This herb type is similar to cooking Turmeric but not used in food due to its bitter taste. The powder of Kasturi Manjal is readily available from herbal vendors in India and Pakistan. 

  1. Curcumin Longa

The second type of Turmeric is Curcumin longa, the most common turmeric powder mixed with curry powder and used in cooking. It is also called Curry Manjal. The powder is obtained by boiling the rhizomes or stems and then grinding them after drying. 

  1. Kuda

Kuda is the third type of Turmeric produced and used mainly in India. This type of herb has a round and elongated umbrella-shaped miniature structure. The word Kuda means umbrella. Kuda is similar to Manjl in color, and it is used for rituals and similar occasions only. People think that it has divine power and thus worship it. It is not used for cooking purposes

  1. Kari Manjal

Kari Manjal is the fourth type of Turmeric, and it is also Black Turmeric as it has black roots. This type of herb is scarce, and people used it in making Ayurvedic medicines. 

  1. Mara Manjal

The fifth type of Turmeric is Mara Manjal. It is the Tree Manjal which is a kind of vine. It is also scarce and is used in making some particular medicines. But, unfortunately, this type of herb is vanishing gradually. 

Curcumin – Turmeric Root Extract

Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin known as Turmeric Root Extract, which gives flavor to the dishes and color to the clothes. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance used to cure different health problems. However, the percentage of curcumin in a piece of Turmeric is only 3%. For this reason, curcumin is extracted in large amounts to be used in medicines and curing diseases. 

 Process of Extraction

Curcumin is extracted from the root of Curcumin longa, used for cooking purposes. First, the turmeric root is ground to make a smooth powder. The powder is then dissolved in suitable solvents that do not dissolve the curcumin substance. 

After filtration of those solutions, we obtain curcumin in the filter paper, and the finished product is ready for medicines. 

Uses of Turmeric

Over the world, Persons use Turmeric for its numerous usage. Here we will discuss the most common usage of Turmeric. 

Turmeric as a Natural Medicine

Turmeric is a natural plant, and it is used as a natural medicine in many parts of the world, especially in some countries of Asia. Kasturi Manjal and Kari Manjal are the most common types of herbs used as medicine. Kasturi Manjal is famous for its beautiful odor and beautifying effects, commonly used in homes for beauty tips. In addition, individuals use Kari Mnjal to make Ayurvedic medicines. 

Below are some common uses of Kasturi Mnajal. 

  1. The women and girls of Asian countries like India and Pakistan make a paste of Kasturi Manjal by mixing it with milk or yogurt and applying it on their skin to get beautiful, glowing, and smooth skin. It is a unique beauty tip for brides. 
  2. For body massage, the massager mix Kasturi Manjal with mustard oil for a better effect. 
  3. Newborn babies are given a bath with Kasturi Manjal in India. 
  4. Girls use a paste of Kasturi Manjal to get rid of unwanted hair growth on different body parts. 
  5. People who have acne and scars on their faces use Kasturi Manjal paste to fight back acne and spots on their faces. Some girls even use Basil paste with Turmeric for quick relief. 
  6. In Ayurvedic treatment, Mung bean powder is mixed with turmeric powder, and this soap-like material is used to heal many skin diseases.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Turmeric as a Food

Turmeric is also used widely for cooking and making different dishes. Curcumin longa or Curry Manjal is the type of Turmeric used in cooking. It gives color, taste, and a healthy touch to a dish. Below are some food items that include This healing herb as the main ingredient. 

  • In Cooking

In making dishes of chicken, rice, vegetables, pulses, Turmeric is the main ingredient. It enhances the cooked food in color and taste.

  • In Drinks
  1. Many doctors suggest using this golden milk to heal internal infections and injuries and boost immunity. Turmeric milk is prepared by boiling milk with Turmeric. Turmeric milk mixed with cinnamon is also used in winters for a soothing warm effect. This golden milk regulates inflammatory signals and works as an antioxidant.
  2. Turmeric Tea is another great drink with the bursting health benefits of Curcumin. The tea recipe is straightforward. Add water, turmeric powder, fresh lemon juice, honey to taste, and a pinch of black pepper in a cooking pan and let it boil. As the water starts boiling, turn the flame low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. After that, pour the tea into your mug and enjoy it. 

In herbal jam

A special sweet herbal jam is prepared by using turmeric powder. A balanced mixture of turmeric root, ginger root, and tamarind is prepared and preserved in jaggery sugar cane and pickled black peppercorns. This sweet herbal jam is used with rice, chicken, fish, or mixed with mayonnaise to make a sandwich.

In Pickles

Turmeric is also used in a fine pickle called Turmeric Ginger Salt Pickle. In this pickle, Turmeric roots and ginger roots are mixed with salt without using water or vinegar. This delicious yet straightforward pickle adds more flavor to your smoked meat, rice, rice and beans, and any other dish you want to have it with. 

  1. Turmeric as a Dye

Yellow color holds a special significance for Hindus and Buddhists. The yellow color is sacred, and it presents the most purified existence of divine spirits for them. That is why the Hindus and Buddhists use Turmeric as dying their clothes, and saintly men and women wear those clothes. On their religious occasions, they start their day by giving a yellow-dyed cloth to the priest. In addition, the newborn baby wears a yellow-dyed cloth on its first visit to the temple. 

Turmeric used in Rituals and Occasions

As said earlier, the herb has a special significance for Hindus and Buddhists. In their temples, they wash their idols with the herb as it is a symbol of purity. The priests wear turmeric-dyed clothes to perform the rituals. Turmeric is also used in weddings to purify the minds and bodies of the couple getting married. 

Turmeric as a Sacred Decoration

Apart from using Turmeric in dying and performing rituals, Hindus and Buddhists also use a particular turmeric type, Kuda. It is an umbrella-shaped round and elongated kind of Turmeric, and it is kept in homes as a sacred decorative material. They also make a design on the earth called Kolam. This design is made from rice and turmeric powder, and it is used to welcome the guests and ward off evil spirits. 

10 Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a world-famous spice because of having numerous benefits. However, if you are concerned about what Turmeric does for the body, the below 10 benefits will clarify. These are the health benefits directly related to the body. 

Natural Bioactive & Anti-Inflammatory Compound

Inflammation in the body is essential as it helps fight back the invaders like bacteria and repair the inside damages. However, this inflammation can be dangerous when it becomes chronic and starts attacking body cells. In this case, curcumin plays a vital role. As an anti-inflammatory and bioactive substance, curcumin blocks a molecule NF-kb that gets into the nuclei and turns on the inflammation-related genes. 

Increases the Antioxidant Capacity

The free radicals in the body can cause oxidative damage as these are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. This oxidative damage includes aging, heart attack, and other diseases. 

Turmeric is an antioxidant, and it has a robust structure that can neutralize free radicals and reduce their damaging effects. It also gives a boost to the body’s activity of making its antioxidant enzymes. 

Provides Skin Health Protection

Turmeric properties being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial, making it potentially practical for skin health. The medical herb can cure acne, scars, eczema, and similar skin problems. A special soap is prepared with a mixture of Turmeric and green mung beans to treat several skin problems. Turmeric is also used for beautiful, smooth, and glowing skin. 

Prevents Heart Diseases

The dysfunction of the endothelium mainly causes heart diseases. When inflammation and oxidation increase and high blood pressure and blood clotting occur, endothelium stops functioning well. 

Curcumin in the turmeric powder reduces inflammation and oxidation, regulates blood pressure, and improves the endothelium’s functioning. When endothelium performs well, the heart gets stables and starts functioning normally. 

Helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is one of those diseases that have no cured. That is why its prevention is given more value than its cure. Alzheimer’s disease takes place when the protein tangles buildup and forms amyloid plaques. Different researches and studies suggest that curcumin can prevent amyloid plaques’ buildup leading to Alzheimer’s disease. 

Makes Arthritis Treatable

Arthritis is a joint disease most common in western countries. This disease spreads due to inflammation in the joints. As an anti-inflammatory substance, curcumin can treat Arthritis. Different researches showed that curcumin could treat Arthritis more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Gives a Boost to Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

Neurons make connections and multiply in different areas of the brain. This process is driven by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a hormone. When this hormone level decreases, it causes several brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and depression. 

Turmeric containing curcumin can increase the level of BDNF in the brain and has the power to reverse many brain disorders. As a result, Curcumin can make your brain smarter and improve memory. 

Prevents & treat Cancer

Turmeric is so unique that it can also contribute to preventing and treat deadly Cancer. Many research pieces have proved that curcumin can kill cancerous cells and reduce angiogenesis and metastasis that spread Cancer by growing new blood vessels in cancerous cells or tumors. Thus, many studies show that it is a valuable herb to treat and prevent Cancer. 

Contributes to treat Diabetes

Diabetes is an inflammatory condition of the body that Turmeric can treat with its inflammatory properties. Curcumin can help treat type 2 diabetes patients by giving them a certain dosage amount for about 16 to 20 weeks. In addition, it will help lower high blood sugar, improve insulin resistance, and reduce high cholesterol in the blood. 

Gives a Boost to Immunity

Turmeric is considered one of the most powerful means to boost immunity. However, golden milk and tea are the most effective drinks to boost immunity and help your body fight back seasonal viruses and bacterias. 

Turmeric Side Effects & Warnings

Turmeric and curcumin are beneficial and friendly to the body. However, there are some problems and dangers with it. 

According to the clinical studies, the herb’s most common side effects are gastrointestinal, resulting in constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, distension, dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux, and yellow stool. 

Turmeric Side Effects In Women

There is no considerable side effect of Turmeric, especially for women. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women should use the herb carefully. 

Who Should Not Eat Turmeric the golden spice?

As far as Turmeric’s suitability is concerned, it may not be suitable for people having obstruction of the bile duct, liver disease, gallstones, cholangitis, and any other biliary disease. This is because curcumin increases bile secretion that can be problematic for such patients. 

 Recipe for THE GOLDEN MILK

  • One cup of milk {milk of your choice}
  • One teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • Two teaspoons of raw honey
  • Add milk in a small saucepan
  • Allow it to a boil and then lower the heat
  • Add turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.
  • Cook for about 10 minutes
  • Remove from heat
  • Add the raw honey
  • pour the tea into your mug, and enjoy it. 

Where to Buy:

You can buy these Herbs and Spices online as well at any grocery store or Mountain Rose Herb.

Final Comments

Turmeric is a natural substance with several outstanding and unmatched properties. It is a very cheap product that is readily available but has life-changing effects. One must be aware of its quality and should not be deprived of enjoying its benefits. 

NOTE: Please, seek advice from your health practitioner before adding these herbs and spices to your diet. Because some herbs and spices might contraindicate with prescription medication.