Where it's ALL about food!

Toggle Navigation

Turmeric as an Herb

Turmeric as an Herb

Curcuma longa

Turmeric is an ancient spice, a native of South East Asia, used from antiquity as dye and a condiment.

Although best known as a spice that gives a distinctive flavor and yellow color to curry powder and mustard, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family that has long been used for healing.

Turmeric is in fact one of the cheapest spices. Although as a dye it is used similarly to saffron, the culinary uses of the two spices should not be confused and should never replace saffron in food dishes.

The use of turmeric dates back nearly 4000 years, to the Vedic culture in India where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance. The name derives from the Latin terra merita "meritorious earth" referring to the color of ground turmeric which resembles a mineral pigment. In many languages turmeric is simply named as "yellow root".

Turmeric as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

The medicinal parts are the stewed and dried rhizome.

Turmeric is used in Chinese medicine to ease shoulder pain, menstrual cramps, and colic.

Turmeric is a mild digestive, being aromatic, a stimulant and a carminative. An ointment base on the spice is used as an antiseptic in Malaysia. Turmeric water is an Asian cosmetic applied to impart a golden glow to the complexion. Curcumin has been shown to be active against Staphlococcus aureus (pus-producing infections)

Turmeric root

Turmeric is often combined with coriander and cumin to aid in digestion of complex carbohydrates.

One component, dimethylbenzyl alcohol, normalizes cholesterol in the blood, while curcumin removes accumulation of cholesterol in the liver. Turmeric normalizes arterial health.

Turmeric Root is one of the most widely used herbs for joint support in India, where it is commonly combined with ginger.

Another problem turmeric is frequently used to relive is muscle aches and pains in addition to its support for inflamed joints and muscles. Combining turmeric with black pepper helps your body better absorb the turmeric. Consider trying the following Turmeric Lemon Pepper Tea! The pepper invigorates this tea while the honey sets off the acridness of the spice.

Turmeric is approved by Commission E for dyspeptic complaints and loss of appetite.

Folk medicine: Turmeric is used for dyspeptic disorders, particularly feelings of fullness after meals and regular abdominal distention due to gas. The drug is also used for diarrhea, intermittent fever, edema, bronchitis, colds, worms, leprosy, kidney inflammation and cystitis. Other uses include headaches, flatulence, upper abdominal pain, chest infections, colic, amenorrhea and blood rushes. It is used externally for bruising, leech bites, festering eye infections, inflammation of the oral mucosa, inflammatory skin conditions and infected wounds.

Chinese medicine: Turmeric is used for pains in the chest, ribs, abdomen, liver and stomach; nose bleeds; vomiting with bleeding; and heat stroke.

Indian medicine: Turmeric is used for inflammation, wounds and skin ulcers, itching, stomach complaints, flatulence, conjunctivitis, constipation, ringworm infestation and colic.

To prepare a tea, scald 0.5 to 1 gm drug in boiling water, cover, draw for 5 minutes and then strain. The tincture strength is 1:10. The tea (2 to 3 cups) should be taken between meals.

Culinary Uses of Turmeric

Apart from its wide use in Moroccan cuisine to spice meat, particularly lamb, and vegetables, its principal place is in curries and curry powders.

Turmeric is used in many fish curries, possibly because it successfully masks fishy odors. When used in curry powders, it is usually one of the main ingredients, providing the associated yellow color.

Turmeric and saffron add both brilliant color and aroma to food.

Saffron Substitute

The root of Curcuma longa is ground up to provide the yellow dye and flavor known as haldi in India and turmeric in the West.

Turmeric is cultivated in several countries in south east Asia, and is widely used as an appetite stimulant and digestive in various sauces, and as a rice colorant and a standard curry constituent, or as an inexpensive substitute for saffron.

The spice has become more popular recently as a source of the yellow turmerone, curcumin: This is believed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticholesterolemic properties.

Turmeric Honey for Allergies

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that removes excess mucus in the sinuses and helps to heal the respiratory tissue. When you feel your allergy symptoms coming on, you can eat one teaspoon of tumeric honey 3 to 4 times a day.

How to make: In a clean glass jar put 6 tablespoons uncooked honey and 4 tablespoons powdered turmeric. Stir until turmeric is well mixed into the honey.

Turmeric Lemon Pepper Tea

Cup of Turmeric Lemon Pepper Tea 1/3 cup organic raw honey
2-1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
Lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using a mortar and pestle, work turmeric spice into the honey until a paste is formed. You can make this ahead of time to keep on hand. Store in a jar for whenever you'd like a cup.

For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of your turmeric paste into the bottom of a mug. Pour hot water (not boiling) into your mug; stir well until the turmeric paste is dissolved. Add a squeeze of lemon juice (best if fresh from a lemon), and as much black pepper as you think you can tolerate. Stir this tea as you are drinking it to keep the spices from settling to the bottom of your mug.

You could also make a similar but stronger paste:

Use 1 teaspoon tumeric, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon raw honey and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. To use, mix in a cup of hot water or milk.

Other ideas for the turmeric paste: Blend into smoothies, or swirl into yogurt.

Flurry for Curry

Cup of Turmeric Lemon Pepper Tea

Curry Powder: The flurry around curry centers on its primary ingredient - turmeric, which contains curcumin, a powerful polyphenol with antioxidant properties. Curcumin lends the spice its distinctive flavor and vivid yellow color.

In a study by Columbia University researchers, curcumin reduced inflammation and lessened the chances that obese mice would develop type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, in the mice that did get the disease, curcumin still lessened insulin resistance, improved blood sugar levels, decreased body fat and increased muscle mass.

More exciting studies target heart disease and cancer. Canadian scientists gave curcumin to mice with enlarged hearts. Not only did it lower the incidence of heart failure (a common outcome of an enlarged heart) but it reversed the condition, restoring heart function.

Earlier research suggests curcumin may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's disease. It's extract blocks bone breakdown, reducing the risk for osteoporosis. Now, scientists are loking at curcumin and Alzheimer's disease. In India - where people eat 2 to 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of turmeric daily - Alzheimer rates are one-quarter what they are in the U.S. Currently 10 studies are underway in humans. In the meantime, cotton up to curry in cooking.

Turmeric Supplement

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that promotes a healthy immune system and provides joint support. When choosing a turmeric product, it is important to pick one that is standardized to contain as much of the active ingredient curcumin as possible. Vitabase Turmeric Extract comes from a Sabinsa Corporation, the premier producer of turmeric extract, and is standardized to 95 percent curcuminoids per serving.

Vitabase Turmeric Extract


Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. Stomach complaints can occur following extended use or in the case of overdose.

Turmeric should not be used during pregnancy.

Don't take turmeric if you have a bile duct blockage or a blood-clotting disorder, or if you have a history of stomach ulcers; it may negatively affect these conditions. If you have gallstones or any gallbladder problems, you probably should not use turmeric supplements. This caution stems in part from a small 1999 study (of 12 people) which found that curcumin in low doses stimulated contractions of the gallbladder. This means that turmeric could potentially harm a person with gallbladder problems.

Share This Page

Back to Herbal Bytes

Disclaimer: The herbal and health information provided in this Web Site is intended as information only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should consult your health care professional for individual guidance. Persons with serious medical conditions should always seek professional care. If there is a link to a product in an article, a small commission of about 4 percent may be paid if a visitor to the site purchases the product.