—Song of Solomon 4:14–15
Used for: Inflammation, flatulence, arthritis, bronchitis, diuretic, dyspepsia, expectorant, laryngitis, lymphoma, rheumatism
Three plants vie for the honor of being the biblical saffron: the saffron crocus, safflower and turmeric. Since saffron is mentioned only once in the Bible, this plant presents a conundrum for botanists. Linguistically, the issue is the proper translation and interpretation of the Hebrew kakom and the Arabic kurkum, or saferam.
Okay. I confess: I want turmeric to be the saffron mentioned in the Bible. It’s such a good herb that it deserves to be in the Bible. I am sure that humans have used it for thousands of years.
Dried turmeric rhizomes are used as a spice, whole or ground, to flavor meat and egg dishes, and to flavor or color pickles, relishes, prepared mustard, butter and cheese; turmeric is an indispensable constituent of curry powder. It provides a natural dye to color cloth, leather, silk, palm fiber, wool and cotton. Its rhizomes yield an orange-yellow essential oil used in flavoring spice products and in perfumery. Powdered turmeric is an antioxidant. The essential oil of turmeric has shown anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory activity in rats. And I believe that turmeric’s use as a pain reliever preceded aspirin’s by at least 2,000 years.
Adapted with permission from Herbs of the Bible: 2,000 Years of Plant Medicine by James A. Duke, Ph.D.
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