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Turmeric Health Benefits and Information

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Curcuma longa L. Synonymous with C. domestica Vahl. Family: Zingiberaceae

COMMON NAME(S): Turmeric, curcuma, Indian saffron

Over the last several years, there has been increasing interest in turmeric and its medicinal properties. This is partially evidenced by the large numbers of scientific studies published on this topic. Turmeric is one of the key ingredients in many curries, providing them both color and flavor. The root and rhizome (underground stem) of the turmeric plant are used medicinally.

Turmeric belongs to the same family of plants that includes ginger. Turmeric has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive disorders and liver problems, and for the treatment of skin diseases and wound healing.

History

Turmeric has a warm, bitter taste and is a primary component of curry powders and some mustards, The powder and its oleoresins are used extensively as food flavorings in the culinury industry. The spice has a long history of use in Asian medicine,In Chinese medicine, it also has been used to treat problems as diverse as flatulence and hemorrhage. It also has been used topically as a poultice, as an analgesic, and to treat ringworms.The spice has been used for the management of jaundice and hepatitis.The oil is sometimes used as a perfume component.

Botany :- Turmeric is a perennial member of the ginger family characterized by a thick rhizome. The plant grows to a height of about 0.9 to 1.5 m and has large oblong leaves. It bears funnel shaped yellow flowers.The plant is cultivated widely throughout Asia, India, China, and tropical countries. The primary (bulb) and secondary (lateral) rhizomes are collected, cleaned, boiled, and dried; and lateral rhizomes contain more yellow coloring material than the bulb. The dried rhizome forms the basis for the culinary spice,

Uses of Turmeric

Turmeric is used as a spice. Recent investigations indicate that the strong antioxidant effects of several components of turmeric result in an inhibiton of carcinogenesis and may play a role in limiting the development of cancers.

Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sun screens. Turmeric paste is used by Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair.

The Government of Thailand is funding a project to extract and isolate tetrahydrocurcuminoids ( THC ) from turmeric. THC are colorless compounds that might have antioxidant and skin lightening properties and might be used to treat skin inflammations, making these compounds useful in cosmetics formulations.

Side Effects of Turmeric

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine. While pregnant women needn't avoid foods containing turmeric, its use as a medicinal herb is not recommended during pregnancy because the effects are not fully known.

Dosage

Turmeric extracts standardized at 90 to 95% curcumin can be taken in the amount of 250 to 500 mg three times per day. Tincture, 0.5-1.5 ml three times per day, is sometimes recommended.

Toxicology

No reports of toxicity have been reported following the ingestion of turmeric. No change in weight was observed following chronic treatment, although changes in heart and lung weights were observed; a decrease in white and red blood cell levels were observed. Although a gain in weight of sexual organs and an increase in sperm motility was observed, no spermatotoxic effects were found.

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