The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Turmeric

Scientific Names

turmeric plant

  • Curcuma aromatica
  • Curcuma domestica
  • Curcumae Longae Rhizoma
  • Curcuma longa
  • Zingiberaceae family

Common Names

  • Curcumin
  • Curcumine
  • Curcuminoid
  • Curcuminoïde
  • Curcuminoïdes
  • Golden Spice
  • Halada
  • Haldi
  • Haridra
  • Indian Saffron
  • Jiang Huang
  • Manjal
  • Nisha
  • Pian Jiang Huang
  • Racine de Curcuma
  • Radix Curcumae
  • Rajani
  • Rhizoma Cucurmae Longae
  • Safran Bourbon
  • Safran de Batallita
  • Safran des Indes
  • Terre Merite (French)
  • Turmeric Root
  • Yu Jin

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Parts Usually Used

The root, stem and leaves

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Turmeric is a perennial plant with short stems and tuted leaves. Turmeric powder is obtained from the rhizomes, which are brownish yellow. Rhizomes are ready to be harvested when the leaves turn yellow.
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Where Found

Turmeriuc plants are widely cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Peru, Haiti, and Jamaica. India is by far the largest exporter and India consumes 80% of the world’s turmeric.
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Medicinal Properties

turmeric flowers

In many research studies, turmeric has been shown to be a treatment for such ailments as gastric ulcerations such as in pylorus ligation, indomethacin, reserpine, and hypothermic-restraint stress; the bacteria Helicobacter pylori infection, a group I carcinogen; peptic ulcers; chronic pain; skin diseases; wounds; digestive ailments; liver conditions; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); rheumatoid arthritis (RA); osteoarthritis (OA); bursitis; diabetes; obesity; neurologic and psychiatric disorders; strains of Staphylococcus aureus; Salmonella paratyphi; Trichophyton gypseum; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Alzheimer’s disease; depression; cardiovascular disease; uveitis; ulcerative proctitis; Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; irritable bowel disease; tropical pancreatitis; peptic ulcer; gastric ulcer; idiopathic orbital inflammatory pseudotumor; oral lichen planus; gastric inflammation; vitiligo; psoriasis; acute coronary syndrome; atherosclerosis; diabetic nephropathy; diabetic microangiopathy; lupus nephritis; renal conditions; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); β-thalassemia; biliary dyskinesia; Dejerine-Sottas disease; cholecystitis; chronic bacterial prostatitis; hepatic conditions; chronic arsenic exposure; metabolic syndrome; anxiety; hyperlipidemia; exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness; and alcohol intoxication. Oil of turmeric, distilled from the dried rhizome, shows antiseptic properties.

Turmeric has been shown to contain choleretic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, pleiotropic, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, pro-apoptotic, chemopreventive, chemotherapeutic, anti-proliferative, wound healing, anti-nociceptive, anti-parasitic, anti-malarial, antifungal, cholesterol-lowering, antifibrotic, antimutagenic, lipotroppic effects, digestive aid, and carminative properties.

Studies have shown that turmeric could possibly reduce the risk for cancer, specifically pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma. It has also been shown to effectively treat some chronic illnesses affecting the eyes, lungs, liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems.

According to The Arthritis Foundation, name several studies in which turmeric has reduced inflammation. This anti-inflammatory ability might reduce the aggravation that people with arthritis feel in their joints.

Some research stiudies have shown turmeric to be as effective in treating pain as ibuprofen (Advil).

The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to be so powerful that it may stop your liver from being damaged by toxins. This could be good news for people who take strong drugs for diabetes or other health conditions that might hurt their liver with long-term use.

Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of brain diseases. One of the main drivers of this process is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain. Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF. By doing this, it may be effective in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function. It may also improve memory and make you smarter, which seems logical given its effects on BDNF levels.

Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process. Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of your blood vessels. It’s well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of your endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors. Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function.

Curcumin has been studied as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment and been found to affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level. Studies have shown that it can contribute to the death of cancerous cells and reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors) and metastasis (spread of cancer).

A research study found turmeric extracts are as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. The side effects were similar but with fewer gastrointestinal issues in the turmeric extracts group.

Another study states: “Curcumin delivery system is effective in the management of central serous chorioretinopathy. When administered in a bioavailable formulation, curcumin is worth considering as a therapeutic agent for the management of inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions involving activation of retinal microglial cells.”

Additional studies show that curcumin helps protect the kidneys: “these studies attribute the protective effect of curcumin in the kidney to the induction of the master regulator of antioxidant response nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2 (Nrf2), inhibition of mitochondrial dysfunction, attenuation of inflammatory response, preservation of antioxidant enzymes and prevention of oxidative stress. The information presented in this paper identifies curcumin as a promising renoprotective molecule against renal injury.”

Numerous research studies have been performed to show the effectiveness of turmeric as a treatment. These include studies for: colorectal cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, lung cancer, cancer lesions, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, uveitis, postoperative inflammation, peptic ulcer, H. pylori infection, idiopathic orbital inflammatory pseudotumor, vitiligo, psoriasis, Dejerine-Sottas disease, Alzheimer’s disease, acute coronary syndrome, atherosclerosis, diabetes, type 2 diabetic nephropathy, diabetic microangiopathy, lupus nephritis, renal transplantation, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, β-Thalassemia, biliary dyskinesia, gallbladder contraction, recurrent respiratory tract infections, ATT-Induced hepatotoxicity, chronic arsenic exposure, alcohol intoxication and chronic bacterial prostatitis. Many studies are still ongoing.

Link to a complete chart of diseases and conditions that have been studied and the results of turmeric as a treatment. This chart and its references is quite extensive!

Here is alink to another chart of research studies on the effectivenes of turmeric as a treatment with human subjects.

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Biochemical Information

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.

The main component of the root is a volatile oil, containing turmerone, and there are other coloring agents called curcuminoids in turmeric. Curcuminoids consist of curcumin demethoxycurcumin, 5’-methoxycurcumin, and dihydrocurcumin, which are found to be natural antioxidants (Ruby et al. 1995; Selvam et al. 1995). In a standard form, turmeric contains moisture (>9%), curcumin (5–6.6%), extraneous matter (<0.5% by weight), mould (<3%), and volatile oils (<3.5%). Volatile oils include d-α-phellandrene, d-sabinene, cinol, borneol, zingiberene, and sesquiterpenes (Ohshiro, Kuroyanag, and Keno 1990). There are a variety of sesquiterpenes, like germacrone; termerone; ar-(+)-, α-, and β-termerones; β-bisabolene; α-curcumene; zingiberene; β-sesquiphellanderene; bisacurone; curcumenone; dehydrocurdione; procurcumadiol; bis-acumol; curcumenol; isoprocurcumenol; epiprocurcumenol; procurcumenol; zedoaronediol; and curlone, many of which are specific for a species. The components responsible for the aroma of turmeric are turmerone, arturmerone, and zingiberene. The rhizomes are also reported to contain four new polysaccharides-ukonans along with stigmasterole, β-sitosterole, cholesterol, and 2-hydroxymethyl anthraquinone (Kapoor 1990; Kirtikar and Basu 1993).

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Legends, Myths and Stories

Because of its golden-yellow color, turmeric is sometimes referred to as ‘Indian saffron’. However, its flavor is completely different from saffron, only the color is similar.

Turmeric has been used medicinally, as part of the Ayervedic system, for over 4,500 years.

Analyses of pots discovered near New Delhi uncovered residue from turmeric, ginger and garlic that dates back as early as 2500 BCE. Ayurvedic literature contains over 100 different terms for turmeric, including jayanti, meaning “one who is victorious over diseases”, and matrimanika, meaning “as beautiful as moonlight”.

Saffron-colored Buddhist robes are dyed with turmeric.

The name turmeric is derived from the Latin word terra merita (meritorious earth), referring to the color of ground turmeric.

Erode, a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is the world’s largest producer of and the most important trading center for turmeric. It is also known as “Yellow City,” “Turmeric City,” or “Textile City.”

In Sanskrit, turmeric has at least 53 different names, including anestha (not offered for sacrifice or homa), bhadra (auspicious or lucky), pinga (reddish-brown), pinja (yellow-red powder), bahula (plenty), dhirgharaja (long in appearance), gandhaplashika (which produces good smell), gauri (to make fair), gharshani (to rub), haldi (that draws attention to its bright color), yamini (night), yoshitapriya (beloved of wife), haridra (dear to hari, Lord Krishna), harita (greenish), hemaragi (exhibits golden color), hemaragini (gives the golden color), hridayavilasini (gives delight to heart, charming), jayanti (one that wins over diseases), vairagi (who remains free from desires), varavarnini (which gives fair complexion), jawarantika (which cures fevers), kanchani (exhibits golden color), kaveri (harlot), krimighni or kashpa (killer of worms), kshamata (capability), laxmi (prosperity), mangalprada (who bestows auspiciousness), mangalya (auspicious), mehagni (killer of fat), nisha (night), nishakhya (known as night), nishawa (clears darkness and imparts color), patwaluka (perfumed powder), pavitra (holy), pita (yellow), pitika (which gives yellow color), rabhangavasa (which dissolves fat), ranjani (which gives color), ratrimanika (as beautiful as moonlight), shifa (fibrous root), shobhna (brilliant color), shiva (gracious), shyama (dark colored), soubhagaya (lucky), survana (golden color), survanavara (which exhibits golden color), tamasini (beautiful as night), umavara (Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva), varna datri (enhancer of body complexion), varnini (which gives color), vishagni (killer of poison), and yuvati (young girl).

Turmeric has been used in Asia for thousands of years and is a major part of Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani, and the animistic rituals of Austronesian peoples

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Uses

turmeric

Turmeric is widely used as a spice and is one of the ingredients in curry powder.

Turmeric is also used as coloring agent in the textile, food, and pharmaceutical industries.

In the Ayervedic system of medicine, turmeric is used as to promote appetite or to assist in digestion, as a tonic, and a blood purifier. The juice of the fresh rhizome is used as an antiparasitic for many skin diseases. Oil of turmeric, distilled from the dried rhizome, shows antiseptic properties.

Turmeric is used an many ways, in all parts of the wrold, including:

  • In India, turmeric containing curcumin has been used in curries
  • In Japan, it is popularly served in tea
  • In Thailand, it is used in cosmetics
  • In China, it is used as a colorant
  • In Korea, it is served in drinks
  • In Malaysia, it is used as an antiseptic
  • In Pakistan, people use it as an anti-inflammatory agent to get relief from gastrointestinal discomfort
  • In the United States, it is used in mustard sauce, cheese, butter, and chips, as a preservative and a coloring agent

Turmeric leaves are used in cooking. They must not be cut with a knife, instead, they should be torn by hand and added towards the end of cooking times. Adding turmeric leaves gives food the flavor of turmeric without the yellow color.

The Hindu religion sees turmeric as auspicious and sacred. There is a wedding day tradition in which a string, dyed yellow with turmeric paste, is tied around the bride’s neck by her groom. This necklace, known as a mangala sutra, indicates that the woman is married and capable of running a household. The tradition still continues in Hindu communities and has been compared to the Western exchange of wedding rings. In parts of southern India, a piece of the turmeric rhizome is worn as an amulet for protection against evil spirits.

Paper tinged with a tincture of turmeric, turns from yellow to reddish brown on addition of alkali, becoming violet on drying, providing a test for alkalinity.

Turmeric is used in manufactured food products such as canned beverages, yellow cakes, dairy products, biscuits, popcorn, baked products, ice cream, yogurt, orange juice, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, and gelatins.

Turmeric is used as an herbal medicine for rheumatoid skin cancer, small pox, arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, urinary tract infections, conjunctivitis, chicken pox, wound healing, and liver ailments. It is also used to reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, and colic; for digestive disorders; for abdominal pain and distension; and for digestive conditions including loss of appetite, liver and gallbladder complaints.

In Ayurveda, turmeric is said to have many medicinal properties including dispelling worms, strengthening the overall energy of the body, regulating menstruation, relieving gas, improving digestion, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis. It is also used for asthma, bronchial hyperactivity, and allergy.

In South Asia, turmeric is used as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises, and as an antibacterial agent.

Turmeric paste is applied to the skin of the bride and groom before marriage in some parts of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where it is believed to make the skin glow and keep harmful bacteria away from the body.

potential medicinal uses for turmeric
Potential medicinal uses for turmeric that are being studied. (image source is here)

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Formulas or Dosages

The Arthritis Foundation suggests taking turmeric capsules of 400 to 600 milligrams (mg) up to three times per day for inflammation relief.

Participants in research studies into the use of turmeric for pain relief took 800 mg of turmeric in capsule form each day.

It is important to note that turmeric alone is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Adding black pepper, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.

Curcumin is fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.

For hay fever: 500 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been used daily for 2 months.

For depression: 500 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been taken twice daily, alone or along with 20 mg of fluoxetine daily, for 6-8 weeks.

For high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): 1.4 grams of turmeric extract in two divided doses daily for 3 months has been used.

For buildup of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD): 500 mg of a product containing 70 mg of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, has been used daily for 8 weeks.

EFor osteoarthritis: Most often, 500 mg of turmeric extract has been taken two to four times daily for 1-3 months.

For itching: 1500 mg of turmeric in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks has been used. Also, a specific product containing turmeric extract (C3 Complex, Sami Labs LTD) plus black pepper or long pepper has been used daily for 4 weeks.

For arthritis: dosages of 8–60 g of fresh turmeric root three times daily have been recommended (Fetrow and Avila 1999).

For dyspepsia: 1.3–3.0 g of turmeric root is recommended.

When 1 or 2 tablets of a standardized turmeric extract were given daily for 8 weeks, the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome was significantly decreased, as was the abdominal pain/discomfort score

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Nutrient Content

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon (tbsp) of turmeric powder contains:

  • 29 calories
  • 0.91 grams (g) of protein
  • 0.31 g of fat
  • 6.31 g of carbohydrates
  • 2.1 g of fiber
  • 0.3 g of sugar
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 0.2 g calcium
  • 0.26 g phosphorous
  • 10 mg sodium
  • 2500 mg potassium (5% RDA)
  • 47.5 mg iron (16% RDA)
  • 0.9 mg thiamine
  • 0.19 mg riboflavin
  • 4.8 mg niacin
  • 50 mg ascorbic acid (3% RDA)

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How Sold

Capsules, teas, powders, oils and extracts are some of the turmeric products available commercially.
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Warnings

Turmeric may cause stomach upset in some people. It also might make stomach problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) worse.

Turmeric in large doses may not be safe for use by peiople taking certain blood-thinners, since it slows clotting and may a=make the risk of bleeding worse.

Turmeric in food is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, but in large medicinal doses, it may cause contractions of the uterus, putting the pregnancy at risk.

Turmeric can make gallbladder problems worse. Do not use turmeric medicinally if you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction.

Taking high amounts of turmeric might prevent the absorption of iron. Turmeric should be used with caution in people with iron deficiency.

Turmeric, primarily from Bangladesh, has been found to have additives containing lead added. Be very careful to pay attention to the origin of the turmeric you buy.

Do not take medicinal doses of turmeric if:

  • You are taking chemotherapy drugs such as camptothecin, mechlorethamine, doxorubicin, or cyclophosphamide: Turmeric inhibits the action of these drugs against breast cancer cells in lab experiments.
  • You are taking tacrolimus, an immunosuppressant: Curcumin supplements increase plasma levels of tacrolimus and may increase side effects./li>
  • You are taking drugs metabolized by the CYP3A4 enzyme: Curcumin inhibits cytochrome 3A4 enzyme, altering the metabolism of certain prescription drugs.
  • You are taking drugs metabolized by the CYP1A2 enzyme: Curcumin inhibits cytochrome 1A2 enzyme, altering the metabolism of certain prescription drugs.
  • You are taking drugs metabolized by the CYP2A6 enzyme: Curcumin enhances cytochrome 2A6 enzyme, altering the metabolism of certain prescription drugs.
  • You are taking drugs metabolized by the CYP2D6 enzyme: Curcumin inhibits cytochrome 2D6 activity and has the potential to interact with CYP2D6 substrates.
  • You are taking drugs transported by P-Glycoprotein: Curcumin affects intestinal P-glycoprotein levels and function, thereby increasing the concentrations of prescription drugs such as celiprolol, midazolam and verapamil.

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Resource Links

Turmeric: Be Careful Where it Comes From

ScienceDirect: Turmeric

Turmeric and Its Principal Polyphenol Curcumin as a Nontoxic Gastroprotective Agent: Recent Update

SPICES AND FLAVORING (FLAVOURING) CROPS | Tubers and Roots

Hepatoprotective Effects of Curcumin in Alcohol-Induced Hepatotoxicity: A Memoir on the Preclinical Studies

MedicalNewsToday: Everything you need to know about turmeric

Arthritis Foundation: Turmeric

Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Discovery of Curcumin, a Component of the Golden Spice, and Its Miraculous Biological Activities

Efficacy and safety of Ayurvedic herbs in diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: A randomised controlled crossover trial.

Turmeric tales

What is the History of Turmeric?

Encyclopedia Brittanica: Turmeric

10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

WebMD: Turmeric

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Turmeric

Turmeric, the Golden Spice

Wikipedia: Turmeric

2019 Turmeric Curcumin Guide: Benefits, Uses And What To Avoid

Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Turmeric

Cancer Research UK: Turmeric

Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health

Effects of curcumin on serum cytokine concentrations in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A post-hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial.

Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study.

Oral administration of a curcumin-phospholipid delivery system for the treatment of central serous chorioretinopathy: a 12-month follow-up study.

Renoprotective effect of the antioxidant curcumin: Recent findings.

Curcumin: an anti-inflammatory molecule from a curry spice on the path to cancer treatment.

Curcumin mediates anticancer effects by modulating multiple cell signaling pathways.

Curcumin inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis in ovarian carcinoma by targeting the nuclear factor-kappaB pathway.

Curcumin and curcumin-like molecules: from spice to drugs.

Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.

Curcuminoids exert glucose-lowering effect in type 2 diabetes by decreasing serum free fatty acids: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Curcumin and obesity.

Spice up the hypertension diet – curcumin and piperine prevent remodeling of aorta in experimental L-NAME induced hypertension.

Antioxidant and radical scavenging properties of curcumin.

Diverse effects of a low dose supplement of lipidated curcumin in healthy middle aged people.

Lipid-modifying effects of adjunctive therapy with curcuminoids-piperine combination in patients with metabolic syndrome: results of a randomized controlled trial.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A randomized controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis.

Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population.

Reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness by a novel curcumin delivery system (Meriva®): a randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

Curcumin and Piperine Supplementation and Recovery Following Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

An investigation of the effects of curcumin on anxiety and depression in obese individuals: A randomized controlled trial.

Curcumin, an active component of turmeric (Curcuma longa), and its effects on health.

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