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Herb Information
Name: Turmeric
Biological Name: Curcuma longa

Family: Zingiberaceae

Other Names: Curcuma, turmeric, haldi, haridra, gauri
Description:

A native of India and Indonesia, turmeric is a perennial with a pulpy, orange, tuberous roots that grow to about 2 feet in length. The aerial parts, which reach 3 feet, include large, lily-like leaves, a thick, squat, central flower spike, and funnel-shaped yellow flowers.

Parts Used: Rhizome, tubers
Active Compounds:  

The active constituent is known as curcumin. It has been shown to have a wide range of therapeutic effects. First, it protects against free radical damage because it is a strong antioxidant. Second, it reduces inflammation. It accomplishes this by reducing histamine levels and possibly by increasing production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands. Third, it protects the liver from a number of toxic compounds. Fourth, it has been shown to reduce platelets from clumping together, which in turn, improves circulation and helps protect against atherosclerosis. Numerous studies have also shown cancer-preventing effects of curcumin. This may be due to its powerful antioxidant activity in the body.

History:

Turmeric is a very important herb in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. A symbol of prosperity, it was considered a cleansing herb for the whole body. Medically, it was used as a digestive aid and treatment for fever, infections, dysentery, arthritis, and jaundice and other liver problems. Traditional Chinese physicians used turmeric to treat liver and gallbladder problems, stop bleeding, and treat chest congestion and menstrual discomforts. The ancient Greeks were well aware of turmeric. It had been used to make yellow-orange dyes.

Medicinal Properties

Action

Alterative, antheimintic, antibacterial, antibiotic, aromatic, carminative, stimulant, tonic, vulnerary

Uses

anemia
atherosclerosis
bursitis
Chron's Disease
diabetes
edema
hemorrhoids
hepatitis
hysteria
indigestion
inflammation
inflammatory bowel syndrome
jaundice
psoriasis
Rheumatoid arthritis
skin disorders
urinary diseases
wound and bruise healing

In India, turmeric is used for the treatment of anorexia, liver disorders, cough, diabetic wounds, rheumatism, and sinusitis. It is currently being evaluated for its anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic properties.

Wound Treatment: Sprinkle a bit of turmeric on cuts and scrapes after they have been thoroughly washed. The turmeric, with its antibacterial action, will prevent the bacterial wound infections.

Digestive Aid: Turmeric helps stimulate the flow of bile, which helps digest fats.
Intestinal Parasites: Turmeric fights protozoans in laboratory tests, supporting its traditional use in treating dysentery.

Liver Protection: Curcumin has a protective effect on liver tissue exposed to liver damaging drugs. It had been traditionally used for liver ailments. Consuming alcohol regularly or using the pain killer acetaminophen (Tylenol) tends to increase the risk for liver damage; turmeric may help in minimizing this damage to some extent.

Arthritis: Turmeric's anti-inflammatory action help relieve wound inflammation and in treating arthritis.

Heart Protection: Studies have shown that turmeric may help reduce cholesterol. It is also shown to prevent the internal blood clots that trigger heart attack and some strokes.

Others: Recent studies show promising results on the use of turmeric to treat cancer. It is believed to inhibit the growth of lymphoma tumor cells. Another study has shown that turmeric helps prevent tumor development in animals.

Dosage: 

Many people take 400 mg. of turmeric three times per day in capsules or tablets. Turmeric as a spice can also be incorporated into the diet as a way to promote health.

Safety: 

Turmeric is extremely safe. It has been used in large quantities as a food with no adverse reactions. However, persons with symptoms from gallstones should avoid turmeric.

Turmeric's potential anti-clotting effect might cause problems for those with clotting disorders. Unusually large amount of turmeric consumption may result in stomach upset.

Do not take turmeric if you are pregnant, or if you are suffering from acute jaundice or hepatitis.

FDA lists turmeric as a herb that is normally considered safe.

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