Remember grandma’s haldi wala doodh (Turmeric milk)? It was considered the panacea for almost all ills.
The Golden spice, turmeric (scientific name Curcuma longa) has a long history of use in traditional medicines of China and India.
Turmeric acts as a powerful healing tool because of the phytochemicals it contains. The main phytochemical in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is derived from the rhizome of the plant. The rhizome has been crushed into a powder and used in Asian cookery, medicine, cosmetics, and fabric dyeing for more than 2000 years. Early European explorers to the Asian continent introduced this spice to the Western world in the 14th century. In fact. the ancient Vedic societies of India regarded it as “the herb of the sun” because of its yellow-orange rhizome. In food and manufacturing, curcumin is used in perfumes and as a natural yellow colouring agent, as well as an approved food additive to flavour various types of curries.
In Ayurveda a turmeric paste is used to treat common eye infections, and to dress wounds, treat bites, burns, acne and various skin diseases. The American pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson even makes turmeric Band-Aids for the Indian market. In Northern India, women are given a tonic of fresh turmeric paste with powder of dried ginger roots and honey in a glass of hot milk to drink twice daily after childbirth. Many marriage rituals even today, include a Haldi ceremony where the paste of turmeric is applied on the bride to improve her complexion for the wedding day.
It has an incredible list of healing properties, that includes, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-protozoan, anti-mutagenic and anti-inflammatory.
Other superfoods in the Ayurveda series:
Turmeric is used in Ayurveda to balance vata, pitta, and kapha, though, in excess, it can aggravate pitta and vata. It has many beneficial effects for rasa and rakta dhatus (the blood and plasma of the circulatory system). It also kindles Agni (digestive fire), helping reduce Kapha and ama (toxins).
From the Samhita period itself (circa 4000 yrs), turmeric was famous for its antidiabetic property. Turmeric powder is extensively described for its wound healing effect and to brighten the gleam and tone of the skin. Turmeric is known as Vranahara (ulcer healing), Varnya (improving complexion), Tvakdoshahara (curing skin diseases) and Kandoohara (curing itching).
A poultice (paste) of turmeric is also applied to the perineum to aid in the healing of any lacerations in the birth canal. Powdered turmeric is taken with boiled milk to cure cough and related respiratory ailments, and roasted turmeric is an ingredient used as an antidysenteric for children. This ancient remedy is also used to treat dental diseases, digestive disorders such as dyspepsia and acidity, indigestion, flatulence and ulcers.
Health benefits of Turmeric
Promotes digestion and manages stomach ulcers
Supports the brain and nervous system
Improves skin and complexion
Reduces joint pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
Supports healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range (especially when combined with neem and amalaki) Turmeric might also prevent cell damage such as ulcers, wounds, kidney damage associated with diabetes mellitus due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Supports proper functioning of the liver
Nourishes the heart and circulatory system
Bolsters the immune system
Reduces the symptoms of mental illness like anxiety and depression.
Consult your doctor before taking turmeric supplements.