Family: Zingiberaceae; other members include ginger

Genus and species: Curcuma Longa

Also known as: Curcuma

Parts used: Rhizomes and roots

Healing History

It gives curry blends their yellow color.  In addition to its role in cooking, it also holds a place of honor in India’s traditional Ayurvedit medicine.  A symbol of prosperity, it was considered a cleanser for the whole body.  It is used medicinally as a digestive aid and as a treatment for fever, infections, dysentery, arthritis and jaundice and other liver problems.

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Traditional Chinese physicians prescribed turmeric to treat liver and gallbladder problems, stop bleeding, and relive chest congestion and menstrual discomforts.

Turmeric is also known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.  It is also recommended for prevention and treatment of degenerative conditions that respond to antioxidants, including cancer and heart disease.

Therapeutic Uses

Enhanced immunity, wounds, food poisoning, digestive problems, scabies, arthritis, cataracts, cancer, heart disease, liver damage.

Food poisoning, it is effective against salmonella bacteria.  It also fights protozoa in laboratory tests.

Digestive problems, it stimulates the flow of bile, which helps digest fats.

Scabies are treated in an India study with turmeric and NEEM.  97% reported that the infestation disappeared in 3 to 15 days.  It was cheaper than standard medical scabicides and caused no adverse reactions.

Arthritis is treated because of it’s anti-inflammatory with no significant gastrointestinal side effects.  In some studies it has been found to be as effective an anti-inflammatory as ibuprofen or cortisone.  Several Indian studies have tested it as a treatment for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with positive results.

Curcumin is a natural COX-2 inhibitor!

Cataracts are caused by oxidative damage to the lens of the eye, the type of damage that antioxidants help to prevent.

Cancer is treated because of the antioxidants that help prevent the cell damage that sets the stage for cancer.  Many studies have shows that it has anti-cancer activity.  The compound inhibits the growth of several cancers, among them colon cancer and lymphoma.

Heart disease – turmerics close botanical relative, ginger, reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent the good clots that trigger heart attacks and most strokes.  Animal studies show similar results with turmeric.

Liver damage – several animal studies suggest that turmeric protects the liver from the damaging effects of many toxic compounds, including alcohol, aflatoxin and carbon tetrachloride.  If you regularly drink alcohol andd/or regularly take certain medications, including large doses of acetaminophen you may be at risk for liver damage.

Rx Recommendations

To treat minor wounds, wash them with soap and water, then sprinkle on some powdered turmeric before applying a bandage.  For an infusion to help aid digestion, use 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder per cup of warm milk.  Drink up to 3 cups a day.  Turmeric tastes pleasantly aromatic, but in large amounts it become somewhat bitter.  To treat arthritis, it’s best to buy cur cumin supplements.  It is recommended that 400 milligrams of cur cumin three (3) times a day.

DO NOT GIVE MEDICINAL TURMERIC PREPARATIONS TO CHILDREN UNDER AGE 2.  For older adults start with lower dosages and increase the strength if needed.

The Safety Factor

One animal study shows that turmeric may reduce fertility.  Just to be on the safe side, people who are trying to conceive and those with fertility problems should not take medicinal amounts.

Because of it’s anti-cloning effect, it may cause problems for those with clotting disorders.  If you have a blood-clotting problem, discuss the herb with your physician before using it medicinally.  Unusually large amounts of turmeric may cause stomach upset.


Growing Information

Turmeric is not a garden herb in North America.  It is grown from India to Indonesia (and here in Costa Rica).  It is a perennial with a pulpy, orange, tuberous rhizome (under ground stem) that can grow to about 2 feet in length.  The aerial parts, which can reach 3 feet include large, lily-like leaves, a thick, squat, central flower spike and full-shaped yellow flowers.