Turmeric a member of the ginger family, is a yellow-colored powder ground from the root of the turmeric plant that widely used a spice in many cultures. Turmeric gets its bright yellow color from Curcumin, a pigment that matures in the root over the growing season.
Curcumin is the yellow-colored compound in turmeric. As an extract from turmeric root, curcuminoids (the sum of 3 compounds – curcumin, desmethoxy and bis-desmethoxy curcumin) are used as a yellow food coloring in mustard, pickles and beverages.
Curcumin is known as a ‘pleiotropic’ compound, meaning it has many activities that impact the body’s biochemical pathways. The curcumin molecule was first isolated in 1815 by Vogel and Pelletier.
One of the most comprehensive summaries of turmeric benefits studies to date was published by James A. Duke, Phd., in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies, and summarized in the July, 2008, issue of the American Botanical Council publication HerbClip. Duke reviewed 700 studies looking at turmeric’s health benefits and concluded that turmeric is effective with helping to support and maintain health and does so with virtually no adverse side effects. The study also revealed that turmeric has more than two dozen health promoting compounds.
Culturally turmeric grows across Asia where it is common ingredient in curries, stews, beverages, skin care products, supplements and traditional herbal products. It is one of the few herbs found in Traditional Chinese Practice (TCM) and Ayurveda – the ancient science of India.
In Traditional Chinese Practice turmeric is considered an herb that invigorates the Blood. It has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners and taken internally in the form of fresh juice, boiled tea, tinctures, or powder, and topically as creams, lotions, pastes, and ointment.
In South India turmeric is often called by its genus name — Curcuma, derived from the old Sanskrit word “kumkuma”, made with a red powder of turmeric alkalinized with limestone used in religious rituals. Today, kumkuma is often applied to the forehead to encourage receptivity and psychic awakening at the sixth chakra or third eye. Turmeric is central to Indian culture and is included as part Hindu wedding rituals. It is known as haldi in Hindi.
In Japan turmeric is known as Ukon (OO-kon). The population of Okinawa in Japan is known for its consumption of turmeric. As a result, throughout Japan, turmeric is one of the most herbs, especially as the main ingredient in Ukon no Chikara, translated as “The Most Powerful Turmeric”.
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