An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Turmeric - Curcuma longa (Curcuma domestica) (Ammomoum curcuma) - Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family).

This rhizome-based evergreen perennial tropical plant grows to about three feet high. It has large elliptic-to-oblong-shaped leaves and produces a central tuft crowned with greenish-white bracts which enclose pale yellow flowers. Following the flowers are capsules which hold the seeds. The roots or rhizomes are the source of the spice. This is one of the ancient spices of Asia. It is one of the primary ingredients of curry, being largely responsible for its yellow color. The major pharmaceutically active ingredient in the rhizomes is called curcumin and is sometimes available as an extract. Traditional Asian folk use of rhizomes as a remedy for indigestion and liver problems. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for indigestion and for a poor appetite. It is also reputed to be a remedy for intestinal parasites. Modern American folk use as a topical remedy for asthma, cataracts, coronary artery disease and gum inflammations.Modern American folk use as a remedy for eczema. Under the name Haridra, Turmeric has been used as an Ayurvedic medicinal herb as a topical remedy for sprains. Modern Japanese (Kampo) use of rhizomes in the medical treatment of some cancers. Modern Asian and Western uses of the rhizomes as a remedy for inflammation associated with arthritis and bursitis. Modern American folk use of Turmeric and its extract curcumin as a remedy for adult diabetes, atherosclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart problems, heartburn, high cholesterol, liver problems, sciatica, ulcers and as an immune system support. Note: side effects may include heartburn and indigestion. Note: do not use if pregnant or nursing. Note: do not use if you suffer from a blood-clotting disorder. The powdered root plus the mordant alum yield a gold-orange dye. Listed by the US Food and Drug Administration as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in foods in small quantities. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1870. Native to India in Asia. Cultivated in India and other parts of southern Asia.



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Web page last updated on 25 May 2003.