Turmeric: Food Or Medicine?

TumericTurmeric may not initially ring a bell but you’ve probably eaten it many times.  The west is finally catching up to traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) in recognizing turmeric as a super spice in treating a range of health problems—joint pain, eczema, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few. It can also be used topically to treat acne, hyper-pigmentation, wrinkles and even remove unwanted hair.

Medical researchers at the U.S National Institute of Health are said to be currently conducting studies to investigate the special qualities of this spice – to fight a host of diseases. And research is revealing far more serious restorative qualities of this yellow spice.

History of the Spice

Turmeric was traditionally called Indian saffron since its deep yellow-orange color is similar to that of the prized saffron. It has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. This herb has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.

Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, including being a revered member of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. While Arab traders introduced it into Europe in the 13th century, it has only recently become popular in Western cultures. Much of its recent popularity is owed to the recent research that has highlighted its therapeutic properties. The leading commercial producers of turmeric include India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti and Jamaica.