Curcuma longa, or better and more commonly known as turmeric, is a perennial plant that is a member of the family Zingiberaceae. Turmeric can be known by many other names as well including Gauri, Indian Saffron, Haldi, Curcuma, and You Jin. The word turmeric derives from the Middle English “tarmaret” or “turmeryte.” In Asia turmeric is known as “manjal” or even “kasturi manjal.” Turmeric is native to southeast India, but it is also cultivated throughout many tropical areas of the world. This herb is best known for its culinary and medicinal purposes, having been used in Asia for medicine since at least 1900 B.C. Did you know that turmeric is considered holy in India? It has been used for various Hindu ceremonies for centuries, as well as being used in every part of Indian religious ceremonies and even in weddings.
This perennial plant can grow up to or over 3 feet tall. It has large cylindrical roots that range in color from yellow to orange. Heavy branches grow up from the roots. The leaves of the plant are green in color, grow alternate from each other, and are arranged in two rows. The leaf blades can grow up to anywhere from 30 to 45 inches long. The flowers of the plant are three-fold and range in color from yellow to pink.
Turmeric can be used for many different types of products. While most often known for its culinary purposes, it can also be used for medicinal purposes, soap making, skin care, and hair care. Bath and body products that can include turmeric are hair conditioners, soaps, bath teas, facial masks, lip balms, creams, lotions, ointments, scrubs, bath bombs, and facial toners. Did you know that turmeric has been used as a dye for Indian clothing? Specifically for saris and Buddhist monks’ robes.
Just like any other plant, turmeric has its certain conditions needed grow properly. It is a drought resistant herb, however it prefers to grow in areas with moist and well drained soils. Turmeric also prefers areas with only partial sun exposure, but it survives perfectly well in areas with full exposure as well. To grow properly, turmeric needs to be in areas with temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turmeric should be planted during late spring, however if in a tropical area, it can be planted anytime of the year. The shoots of the plant will begin to appear about two months after first being planted. The roots of the plant are usually ready to be harvested about seven to ten months after being planted. You can tell that it is ready to be harvested after the stems and leaves of the plant have turned dry. The entire plant and entire root should be dug up.
There are some pests and diseases that can affect turmeric such as the shoot borer, leaf roller, and scale insects. Turmeric is susceptible to diseases like leaf blotch and leaf spot. It can also be affected by root rot which will eventually cause the plant to decay.
Uses in Industries
One of the main uses for turmeric is for culinary purposes. It is an extremely popular ingredient in South Asian cooking, used to add flavor to many dishes like curries, stocks, and sauces. Dried powder can be used in curry as well. Because of its bright color, it is used to color foods like popcorn, yogurt, and cheese. South Africans use turmeric to give boiled white rice a distinct golden color, while it Vietnam, the powder is used in dishes like soup and stir-fry. Many other dishes that turmeric can be used as an ingredient for are dairy products, baked products, ice cream, cakes, cereal, gelatin, and biscuits. Turmeric leaves can even be used to wrap food in.
Bath and Body Products
Turmeric can be used in many different industries and products. Besides its wide variety of culinary uses, it is often used in cosmetic products and soaping as a natural colorant. When used for these types of products, turmeric gives a natural yellow color.
It is commonly used in bath and body products like lip balms, facial masks, face toners, bath teas, conditioners, lotions, creams, ointments, bath bombs, and scrubs.
Your hair can greatly benefit from turmeric use. It works to moisturize the hair as well as promoting new hair growth. Turmeric also treats dandruff, increases circulation in the scalp and helps to prevent hair loss. It also works to treat any scalp conditions like itchiness, flaking, inflammation, and even alopecia. When combined with other yellow colored herbs, turmeric can be used as a natural hair dye to brighten your hair.
When used for skin care, turmeric works to make the skin brighter and provide it with a healthy glow, and it also fights the signs of aging. This herb also works to treat many skin conditions including acne, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as treating dry skin. Turmeric even works to remove excess oils, lightens stretch marks, soothes burns, removes facial hair and dead skin cells, reduces redness and inflammation, and it can even be used to remove skin pigmentation and tans.
In medicine, there are many advantages to using turmeric. It contains many important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc, sodium, iron, iodine, calcium, phosphorous, and copper. Turmeric also has many anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
In the Sidda system in India, turmeric is used as treatment for a wide variety of conditions including sprains, wounds, liver disorders, aches, chicken pox, shingles, and scabies.
For women, turmeric does help with menstrual problems. However, pregnant women should avoid this herb as it does work to stimulate menstruation and can cause abortions.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used to treat ulcers, bruises, strains, colds, the flu, joint pain and inflammation, parasitic infections, and it works as a digestive aid.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric work to reduce inflation in the brain. Brain inflation is believed to be the main reason of Alzheimer’s disease. These properties essentially work to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric is even said to be able to prevent cancer and childhood leukemia.
For diabetes sufferers, turmeric works to moderate insulin levels. It also helps to improve digestion, can help to manage weight loss, and works to reduce bloating and gas.
There are many other conditions that can be treated using turmeric including jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammatory bowels, rheumatoid arthritis, heart burn, diarrhea, fibromyalgia, leprosy, depression, worms, water retention, fever, ringworm, leech bites, and eye infections.
The heart can greatly benefit from turmeric as well. It works to reduce plaque build-up associated with cardiovascular disease, lowers bad cholesterol, stops platelets from forming into blood clots, and it even works to lower blood sugar.
Paper steeped in turmeric can be used in chemical analysis as an indicator of alkalinity and acidity. This can easily be achieved by putting turmeric powder in a cup with denatured alcohol. These should be mixed together thoroughly. Using strips of paper towels, dip them into the cup and then allow the strips to dry. Once the strips are dry, they can be dipped into any products with a pH level to indicate the levels! The turmeric indicator’s color will change between an approximate pH level of 7.4 and 8.6. If turmeric is exposed to neutral or acidic product, with a pH of less than 7.4, it will remain its yellow color. However, if it is exposed to more alkaline substances, or something with a pH greater than 8.6, it will change to a dark pink or red color.
In Thailand, during the Pongal festival, a whole turmeric plant is offered to the sun god, Suryan. This offering is made as a thanksgiving gift.
Nature’s Garden sells turmeric powder for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great turmeric is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.
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