Turmeric is a perennial herb with short stem and raised or lifted branches. It grows up to 60 to 90 cm in height. The rhizomes or underground stems are short and thick and constitute commercial turmeric. The rhizome is aromatic, stimulant and a tonic.
Turmeric consist of moisture 13.1 percent, protein 6.3 percent, fat 5.1 percent, minerals 3.5 percent, fiber 2.6 percent and carbohydrates 69.4 percent. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorus, carotene, thiamine and niacin.
Turmeric contains curcumin and an essential oil. Dry rhizomes yield 5.8 percent essential oil, while the fresh ones yield 0.24 percent oil containing zingiberine. Ketone and alcohol are obtained on volatile distillation.
Botanical Name: Curcuma longa
Indian Name: Haldi
Below are some of the medicinal properties of turmeric:
- It is a valuable home remedy for bronchial asthma. A teaspoon of turmeric powder with a glass of milk twice or thrice daily is very effective. It acts best on an empty stomach.
- Turmeric is a valuable intestinal antiseptic. The rhizome, its juice or dry powder, mixed in buttermilk or plain water is highly beneficial in intestinal problems, especially chronic diarrhea. It also helps prevent flatulence.
- About 20 drops of the juice of raw turmeric, mixed with a pinch of salt, taken first thing in the morning daily is considered an effective remedy for expelling worms.
- Turmeric, being rich in iron is useful in anemia. A teaspoon of raw turmeric juice, mixed with honey is taken everyday in the treatment of this condition.
- Turmeric is useful in the treatment of measles. Turmeric roots are dried in the sun and ground to a fine powder. This mixed with a few drops of honey and the juice of few bitter gourd leaves can be taken by those suffering from measles.
- Turmeric with its antiseptic properties is a useful remedy for chronic cough and throat irritations. Half a teaspoon of fresh turmeric powder mixed in 30 ml of warm milk is very effective in these conditions. To prepare this milk is poured on a hot ladle with turmeric in it and boiled over a slow fire. In case of a running cold smoke from burning turmeric can be inhaled. This increases the discharge from the nose and brings quicker relief.
Turmeric in combination with caraway seeds or ajwain is beneficial for cold in infants and children. A teaspoon of turmeric powder and quarter teaspoon of ajwain are added to boiling water which is then cooled. About 30 ml of this decoction sweetened with honey may be taken thrice a day in treating such conditions.
- For treating sprains or the swelling caused by sprains, turmeric paste mixed with lime and salt can be applied with beneficial results.
- Turmeric powder is beneficial in soreness of the eyes. About 6 grams of this powder is boiled in about half a liter of water till it is reduced to half. A few drops of this water put in the affected eyes three or four times a day give relief.
- An application of turmeric powder to boils speeds up the healing process. In case of fresh boils a few dry roots of turmeric are roasted and the ashes dissolved in a cupful of water add applied over the affected portion. This solution enables the boils to ripen and burst.
- It is useful in the treatment of skin diseases like ringworm and scabies. In such cases, the juice of raw turmeric is externally applied to the affected parts. Simultaneously, turmeric juice, mixed with honey should be taken orally.
Turmeric is an important common flavoring spice of daily use. It imparts a musky flavor and yellow color to curries. It is also used as a coloring matter in pharmacy, confectionery and food industries.