Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a medicinal herb. Its plant is 5 to 6 feet long, turmeric is obtained from the roots of the plant. The many medicinal properties of turmeric have special importance in Ayurveda. Turmeric is helpful in curing many diseases. It helps to improve skin tone and relieve pain. It is considered a panacea for curing a cold and cough.
Turmeric is mainly used as a spice in India. It enhances the taste and colour of food. Along with being an immunity booster, it works as a shield to protect against many diseases. The scientific name of turmeric is Curcuma longa Linn. Turmeric is considered auspicious in Hinduism that is why it is used in every auspicious work like puja, havan, etc.
Importance of Turmeric in Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, turmeric is a highly effective herb. Turmeric has many medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, antiseptic, antiviral, cardioprotective (heart-retaining properties), hepatoprotective (liver retaining properties), and nephroprotective (kidney retaining properties).
The use of turmeric is very beneficial for body composition. Turmeric is also rich in protein, iron, fibre, niacin, calcium, copper, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and zinc, etc. In Ayurvedic texts, turmeric has been named Haridra, Varvarnini, Curcuma, Gauri, Crimighna, Yoshitapriya, Hardal, etc.
Importance of Turmeric from Religious Point of View
Turmeric is also very important in religious processions. It is a medicine that has many types of divine properties. In religious terms, turmeric is said to be auspicious. It is believed that the use of turmeric brings financial prosperity to a person's life. Apart from this, it also works to eliminate negative energy.
Medicinal Properties of Turmeric
Effective in Curing Bone Diseases-
The use of turmeric cures various diseases of the bones, arthritis, vata, etc. Mixing turmeric in milk daily and drinking it provides a sufficient amount of calcium to the body and keeps the body warm. It provides relief to patients with osteoporosis (bone disease) and Rheumatoid (inflammation-related disorder). Turmeric is also used in the treatment of inflammation caused by arthritis.
Helpful in the Treatment of Diabetes-
Raw turmeric has the property of balancing insulin levels, which is very beneficial for a diabetic patient. Apart from insulin, turmeric also controls glucose levels in the body.
Beneficial in the Treatment of Respiratory Diseases-
Turmeric's fresh rhizome (the stem part of the plant) is used in the treatment of whooping cough. It contains volatile oil, which is also very useful in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
Helpful in Digestion-related Problems-
It improves digestive power and eliminates the gas produced in the stomach. It also cures stomach cramps.
Helpful in Urinary Disorders-
The rhizome (stem part of the plant) of turmeric is used in the treatment of various urinary infections. Turmeric is also helpful in the treatment of kidney stones.
According to Ayurveda, raw turmeric has sufficient properties to fight cancer. Elements present in turmeric are associated with DNA from cancer cells and also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
Antibacterial, Antifungal and Antimicrobial Properties-
Various researches on turmeric have proved that it inhibits the growth of many types of bacteria, pathogenic fungi, and parasites.
This property is only due to the anti-oxidation property of turmeric. Turmeric is very effective in protecting the skin from ultraviolet-beta rays emanating from the sun. It is also very useful in protecting against the harmful effects of gamma-rays (generated by radioactive atoms and nuclear explosions).
Turmeric is also known as Kermihara or Karminashak (intestinal killing agent). Turmeric juice has anthelmintic properties. In the rural areas of Nepal, turmeric powder or paste is boiled with light salt in water and this juice is consumed as an antiparasitic drug.
Turmeric as an Immunity Booster
According to experts, a regular intake of turmeric is very helpful in increasing the immunity of the body. Turmeric is a substance called lipopolysaccharide (endotoxin) which contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agents, which boost our immunity.
In addition, the important component of turmeric, curcumin, can be rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as acting as an immunomodulatory agent (agent affecting immunity). It also improves the functioning of various immune cells such as B-cells (white blood cells) due to which the body is able to fight against many diseases like allergy, cold-cough, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.
Turmeric as a Cosmetic-
Turmeric is also very useful as beauty-enhancing products. Indian women have been using turmeric since ancient times to enhance their skin tone. Turmeric contains ingredients that cleanse the blood, enhance the appearance and make the skin fair and radiant. In Indian wedding ceremonies, turmeric paste is applied to enhance the beauty of the bride and groom.
Types of Turmeric
Many types of species of turmeric are found depending on the colour, size, and properties. Out of which the following four species are mainly used in medicine-
Curcuma longa (Common turmeric)
Curcuma longa is a commonly found variety of turmeric, which is especially used in spices and medicines. Turmeric plants of this species are 60-90 cm tall and have a red or yellow colour inside.
Curcuma aromatica is known as natural wild turmeric and is also known as Kasturi Manjal. It is used in manufacturing many types of cosmetics products.
Curcuma amada (Amba Haldi)-
Curcuma Amada Turmeric has a mango-like aroma. Hence it is called Aama or Amba Turmeric. Being fragrant, it is used in making chutneys, pickles, etc. Mango extracts (juice) are used to bring the smell of mangoes to sweets.
Curcuma caesia (Black Turmeric)-
Curcuma Casia is called Black Turmeric. According to beliefs, this turmeric has miraculous properties. It is used to make many types of medicines like the ones used to treat cancer. Therefore, it is sold abroad at very high prices. This turmeric is used in healing as well as in astrology.
Use of Turmeric in Daily Life
- Taking turmeric milk is very beneficial for the body, which increases immunity and protects the body from various diseases.
- A little turmeric is also added to the green salad which increases the nutritional content of the salad.
- Turmeric can be used as a home face pack to brighten the complexion.
- It is also applied to the hair in the form of a hair mask, which makes the hair healthy.
- A little turmeric can be added to the soup to make it more nutritious.
Side effects of Turmeric
- Excess intake of turmeric can cause side effects. Oxalate (organic acid) is found in turmeric which can cause kidney stone problems.
- Excessive consumption of turmeric leads to gastrointestinal problems.
- Excess intake of turmeric can cause iron deficiency in the body, which increases the risk of anaemia disease.
- Excess intake of turmeric can also be a cause of headaches and rashes on the skin.