Spotlight on Turmeric

Tasty turmeric can improve arthritis symptoms, reduce your risk of heart attack and prevent cancer.

| July/August 2007

  • A basket of fresh turmeric, surrounded by fresh ginger and coconut at an outdoor market in Ho Chih Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.
    ©2007 Steven Foster

  • Turmeric is one of the most popular herbs in ancient Indian medicine (Ayurveda) and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Healthy Turmeric Recipes:

Roasted Onions 
Ras Al Hanout
Green Beans with Turmeric Glaze

An ancient spice with the air of exotic intrigue, turmeric has enamored cooks and herbalists all over the world for years. In its native homes of India and China, it has long been used as a cooking spice and medicine. In the United States, it is known for giving mustard its yellow color. And recently, it also is being touted in the Western media for its many health benefits.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a flowering plant in the ginger family, grows 3 to 5 feet high in the tropical regions of southern Asia. The spice is made from drying the plant’s root and grinding it into a fine powder. In Ayurveda (Indian medicine) and Traditional Chinese Medicine, practitioners historically have prescribed the spice to reduce inflammation and joint problems; treat digestive disorders and liver problems; treat skin diseases; and improve wound healing.

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, an Ayurvedic practitioner who also is a nutritionist and national officer in the American Herbalists Guild, points out that curries were originally created as a tasty way to offer medicinal herbs. The dishes had five to 10 ingredients with healing benefits, and turmeric often was one of those ingredients.

“It’s thought in Ayurveda that cooking turmeric activates its medicinal properties and it’s usually suggested to use the herb cooked,” Khalsa says. Turmeric also can be taken as a supplement (usually the ingredient curcumin is isolated in supplements).

Donna Cole
3/17/2013 10:30:49 PM

Hi, I am trying to work out the right way to consume Tumeric for health benefits. Whilst in South America I was given it as a drink, but I have been told it needs to be cooked to activate or have pepper added if drinking from powdered Tumeric. I don't like pepper. Can anyone advise best way to take medicinal dose?

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