Turmeric is known by many common names such as Haldi, Haridra, Nisha, Gauri and Halud. It is sacred and auspicious in Hindu Dharma and is an important herb used in several rituals from ancient period. In Hindu marriages, it is applied to bride and bridegroom as a substance of purity and auspiciousness.
Overview of Turmeric
The botanical name of turmeric is Curcuma longa and it belong to plant family Zingiberaceae. The powder prepared from the ground dried rhizome of Haldi, known as Turmeric Power or Haldi powder, is used extensively as a spice, food preservative, cosmetic and medicine for centuries.
The orange yellow Colour of Turmeric is because of Curcumin. It contains not less than 1.5 per cent of curcumin, calculated on the dried basis. Curcumin along with its mono- and bisdemethoxy derivatives, collectively called curcuminoids, are the biologically active constituents of turmeric. The Curcumin related phenolic possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective and hepatoprotective activities.
The turmeric plant is extensively cultivated in India for its tubers. The tubers / rhizomes can be used fresh or dried. Turmeric / haldi powder, is used in all Indian kitchen as a spice. It is essential ingredient of curry. Haldi powder is also taken as medicine to treat welling, cold, cough, flu, diabetes, etc.
It is perennial herb, 60-90 cm in height, with a short stem and tufts of erect leaves.
Leaves- simple, very large, petiole as long as blade, oblong, lanceolate, tapering to the base up to 45 cm long.
Flowers- Zygomorphic flowers appearing at ground level and having three fused sepals and three large yellow petals.
Rhizomes- oblong or round (pyiform) or cylindrical to elongate, bluntly tapering at both end and varies from 3-8 cm in length, 2-3 cm in diameter, intense yellow in colour.
The botanical name of Turmeric / Haldi is Curcuma longa. It belongs to plant family Zingiberaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Curcuma domestica Val.
- Curcuma xanthorrhiza
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
- Subclass: Zingiberidae
- Order: Zingiberales
- Family: Zingiberaceae – Ginger family
- Genus: Curcuma L. – curcuma
- Species: Curcuma longa L. – common turmeric
Growth Habit: Forb/herb
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Rhizome, tubers
Habitat: Indigenous to India. Cultivated all over India, particularly in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra
Ecology and cultivation: Tropical plant; cultivated throughout the tropics.
- Latin name: Curcuma longa Linn. Synonym: C. domestica Valeton.
- Ayurvedic : Haridraa, Priyaka, Haridruma, Kshanda, Gauri, Kaanchani, Krimighna, Varavarnini, Yoshitapriyaa, Hattavilaasini, Naktaahvaa, Sharvari
- Unani : Zard Chob
- Siddha: Manjal
- Assamese : Haldhi, Haladhi
- Bengali : Halud, Haldi
- English : Turmeric
- Gujrati : Haldar
- Hindi : Haldi, Hardi
- Kannada : Arishina
- Kashmiri : Ledar, Ladhir
- Malayalam : Manjal
- Marathi : Halad
- Oriya : Haladi
- Punjabi : Haldi, Haldar
- Tamil : Manjal
- Telugu : Pasupu
- Urdu : Haldi
Phytochemical constituents of rhizomes
Sesquiterpene: Bisaboline beta, Bisabolone, Caryophyllane, Turmerone, Turmerone alpha, Zingiberene,
Benzenoid: Curcumin (1.06-5.65%), Curcumin bis-demethoxy (0.42-2.16%), Curcumin demethoxy (0.66-3.36%), Curcumin monodemethoxy.
Monoterpene: Borneol, Borneol iso, Camphene, Camphor, Limonene, Linalool, Pinene alpha & beta, Terpinene, Terpinene alpha & gamma, Terpineol.
Quinoid: 2-hydroxy methyl anthraquinones.
Steroid: Campesterol, Cholesterol, Stigmasterol.
Medicinal Properties of Turmeric
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Turmeric / Haldi
Haldi or Haridra is indicated in treatment of diseases that occur due to vitiation of Kapha and Vata disorders. It detoxifies blood. It is considered bitter, astringent, pungent and heating. It reduces Kapha and Vata due to its thermogenic properties.
Its main action can be seen on digestive, circulatory and respiratory system. Haldi / Haridra is indicated in indigestion, poor circulation, cough, cold, flu, skin disorders, diabetes, arthritis, Madhumeha, swelling, fever, bacterial infection, intestinal worms, liver complaints, stammering, filaria, sprain, boils, wounds, conjunctivitis, thirst due to phlegm, allergic reactions etc.
In Rigveda it is described as one that improves body complexion and appetite. In Yajurveda, it is considered blood-purifier. Charak Samhita indicates its use as a laxative and for treating skin diseases.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya: Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Karma / Action: Krimighna (anthelmintic), Kushtaghna (effective in diseases of skin), Varnya (helps in improving complexion), Vishaghna (detoxfies), Pramehanashak (cures urinary disorders), Kaphahar (reduces Kapha)
Therapeutic uses: Pandu, Prameha, Vrana, Visha-vikara, Kushtha, Tvagroga, Shitapitta, Pinasa (running nose)
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations of Turmeric: Haridra khanda, Haridradi churna, Nishamalki Churna
Turmeric is known as Chob zard in Unani. It is used in treatment of bronchitis, respiratory disorders, cough, cold, in gastric disorder.
Its Mizaj (Temperament) is Hot (2) Dry (2). It is indicated in affections of the liver and jaundice, urinary discharges, scabies and bruises. It is ingredient of 'Majnoor-e-falsfa', a medicine useful in gastrointestinal complaints.
Scientifically Proven Medicinal Properties of Turmeric Powder
Turmeric Powder is tonic, stimulant, pungent, bitter, heating, laxative, anthelmintic, vulnerary, tonic, alexiteric, and emollient. It is good for skin and reduces phlegm. Turmeric is useful in variety of diseases such as diseases of the blood, leukoderma, scabies, urinary discharges, inflammations, ozoena, bad taste in the mouth, biliousness, dyspepsia, elephantiasis, snake-bite, smallpox, swellings, boils, bruises, sprains etc.
- Antibiotic: inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms.
- Appetizer: stimulate appetite.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Anthelmintic: destroy parasitic worms
- Antidiabetic: control level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
- Antioxidant: neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
- Antiplatelet: decrease platelet aggregation and inhibit thrombus formation.
- Anodyne: Relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.
- Antiasthmatic: treat or prevent asthma attacks.
- Antitumor / anticancer: preventing or inhibiting the formation or growth of tumors.
- Antihistamine: inhibits the physiological effects of histamine, used especially in the treatment of allergies.
- Antiallergic: prevents, or relieves an allergy.
- Antiinflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Antifertility and anti-spermatic: contraceptive, fertility reducing.
- Cholagogue: promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
- Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
- Digestive: digestant.
- Depurative: Purifying agent.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Emollient: Soothing and softening effect on the skin or an irritated internal surface.
- Expectorant: Promoting or facilitating the secretion or expulsion of phlegm, mucus, or other matter from the respiratory tract.
- Emmenagogue: stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus, some stimulate menstruation.
- Hepatoprotective: prevent damage to the liver.
- Hypolipidemic: lowers lipid.
- Immunomodulatory: modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system.
- Stomachic: stimulates gastric activity.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
- Thermogenic: heating.
- Ophthalmic: relating to the eye and its diseases.
- Wound healing: heals wound due to antiseptic, antimicrobial action.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric offers innumerable health benefits. It is a tonic that improves overall health. It not only prevents but cures diseases. Below is given some of the health benefits of turmeric supported by clinical studies.
It is beneficial in diabetes as it lowers blood sugar, increases glucose metabolism and potentiates insulin activity more than three-folds. Scientific investigations prove it lower blood glucose in experimental, induced- diabetic rats. Diabetic rats maintained on a curcumin diet for 8 weeks excreted less albumin, urea, creatinine and inorganic phosphorous. You can read here about Turmeric milk Benefits.
Several animal studies have demonstrated that curcumin can overcome insulin resistance and can delay cataract incidence in diabetic patients.
- It is regenerator of liver tissue. It reduces high plasma cholesterol. It converts cholesterol into bile acids and increases the excretion of bile acids via its choleretic effects. It strengthens digestion and promotes proper metabolism. It improves intestinal flora.
- It protects liver. It prevents the increases in liver enzymes, SGOT and SGPT. It reduces bilirubin cholesterol, AST and alkaline phosphatase activity.
- It protects stomach. It increase the mucin content of the stomach and exert gastroprotective effects against stress, alcohol, drug-induced ulcer formation.
- It is good for heart. It lowers the risk of arteriosclerosis and reduces cholesterol, lipid profile. It is has antiplatelet activity and protects heart and vessels.
- It removes toxins and warms blood.
- It effective in treatment of allergy. It causes inhibition of histamine release from mast cells and helps in urticaria.
- It has anti-carcinogenic properties due to presence of natural curcuminoids, curcumin I (diferuloylmethane), curcumin II (feruloyl-p-hydroxycinnamoylmethane) and curcumin III (bis-(phydroxycinnamoyl) methane).
- It is beneficial in all inflammatory conditions.
- It is a tonic.
Medicinal Uses of Turmeric / Haldi
Turmeric Powder is used both internally and externally. It is used as a stimulant, carminative, detoxifier and expectorant. Externally it is applied on wounds, bruises, sprain, leech bites, spider poison, and for improving complexion. For chronic otorrhea (drainage of liquid from the ear), turmeric and alum in the, proportion of 1 to 20, is blown into the ear.
Turmeric is used in treatment of diarrhea, diabetes, fever, oedema (excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body), intermittent fever, bronchitis, inflammation of joints, colic, Pneumonia, jaundice, spleen enlargement, amenorrhea, and congestions.
Anemia (deficiency of red cells or of hemoglobin in the blood)
Regular intake of 1 teaspoon of Haldi powder mixed with honey cures anemia.
Asthma (attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing)
Take 1 teaspoon of Haldi powder and Boil in 1 cup of milk and Drink warm.
Acne, Pimples, Skin Problems
Make a paste of turmeric and cinnamon with water, and gently rub face daily.
- For pain in the ankle, take aloe Vera leaf. Remove the outer layer to get the pulp. On the pulp sprinkle
- Turmeric powder and heat at low flame in a pan. When the turmeric powder starts boiling remove the pan. At bearable temperature, tie the pulp on painful ankle with help of cloth. Repeat the process after few hours.
- Some time we got hurt our joints in some accidents or while playing some sports and our damaged joints get strain. For these kind of injuries use Turmeric with limestone.
Mix 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, turmeric, dry ginger, black pepper, cardamom and clove. Add 3 tablespoon of raw sugar / Mishri and grind together to make a fine powder. Take ½–1 teaspoon of this powder mixed with honey twice per day.
Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric with 1 teaspoon of aloe gel and apply topically on affected area.
Take one spoon of turmeric powder in one glass of warm milk daily.
Mix 5 grams of Prishniparni / Uraria Logopoides root powder and 2 grams of turmeric powder and take this combination for 21 days.
Cold, cough, flu
Stir a teaspoon into a glass of water and drink.
- Daily at night, take one teaspoon turmeric powder with milk.
- For piles: Take latex of Thuhar (Euphorbia ligularia) and mix with turmeric powder. Apply externally twice a day for few months.
Take ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder thrice a day.
Dental problems, Pyorrhea, Bad breath
Take 1 teaspoon of turmeric, ½ teaspoon of salt, with mustard oil to make a paste. Rub this preparation on the teeth and gums twice daily.
Nishamalki Powder is effective in diabetes.
Gastric disorder, swelling in any part of the body
Mix well, Turmeric Powder + Fenugreek grains powder + Dry Ginger Powder in equal amount. Take 1 teaspoon with warm water / milk.
Mix equal parts of turmeric and ground sesame seeds / Til and rub on the affected areas.
Mix equal parts of turmeric and Amla powder (Indian gooseberry) and take 1-2 teaspoon of this powder with water.
Take 3 gram powder.
Take one spoonful of the powder of Amalki fruit, ginger, black pepper and turmeric (in equal proportions) orally along with honey.
Grind the leaves of Patharchatta / Kalanchoe pinnata, with a piece of turmeric and extract the juice. Add some jaggery and take the preparation for ten days.
Pain, fever, allergy, Urticaria / Pitti / Sheet pitta
Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric to 1 cup of warm milk and drink before bed.
- Purulent conjunctivitis is an acute inflammation of the conjunctiva (delicate membrane lining the eyelids and covering the eyeball), with copious pus and a marked tendency for corneal involvement.
- The decoction of Haldi is used for washing the eyes.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of crushed, raw turmeric in 1/3 cup of water. Boil and sieve. 2–3 drops of this mixture may be used in each eye up to 3 times per day.
Daily consumption of 1 gm turmeric powder helps to fight decaying metabolism and prevents cancer.
Ringworm, parasitic skin diseases, gonorrhea
A paste made of the Bowers is used.
Skin Diseases, Eczema, itching, toxins in blood
- In skin diseases, one gram turmeric powder should be taken with water in the morning.
- Turmeric pounded into a paste and mixed with oil, is rubbed on the skin to improve its appearance and prevent skin diseases.
Sprains and bruises
Turmeric paste mixed with little lime is applied topically.
Apply paste of turmeric and sesame on affected area.
- Prepare a decoction by boiling turmeric (1-2 gm), cloves (3-5), Black pepper (5), Tulsi leaves, Giloy. Filter and drink.
- Piperine, present in black pepper enhances absorption and bioavailability of curcumin of turmeric.
Throat problem, coughing
Take 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and roast. Mix with honey and take.
Vata Vyadhi / Diseases due to vitiation of Vata e.g. joint pain, gout, joint swelling, morning stiffness, rheumatoid arthritis
Mix well: Turmeric Powder + Fenugreek grains powder + Dry Ginger Powder (Each 100 grams) + Ashwagandha Powder (50 grams). Take 1 teaspoon with lukewarm water in the morning and evening.
- Apply paste of turmeric powder mixed with honey on affected area.
- Mix Abhrak Bhasma + Pippali + Turmeric in honey and take in diabetes.
- Take ½–1 teaspoon of turmeric powder thrice a day.
Boil 2 black pepper corn, half spoon turmeric, and 1 clove, in milk. Take this every 3 hours to get relief from cough.
Direction to use and Precautions
Dosage of Turmeric for Medicinal Use
- For oral use, the dose of turmeric powder for adults is 2 to 5 grams and for children it is 1 to 2 grams.
- The dose of fresh turmeric juice is 10 to 20 ml in adults and 5 to 10 ml in children.
- Normally two doses a day should be taken with water or mixed with honey.
Precautions, Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects
- Turmeric as a spice in food is safe for everyone. But avoid its use as medicine in pregnancy and for small children.
- It has heating and emmenagogue action. It causes dryness.
- It can cause some side effects such as upset stomach, gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, if taken in more than the recommended doses.
- Persons suffering from bile duct blockage, blood-clotting disorder, gallstones, hyperacidity and stomach ulcers should not take turmeric in excessive quantity.
- Take cautiously while taking aspirin or warfarin as the combined use may aggravate bleeding tendency.
- Consult physicians before using in gallstones.
- Pitta people should use this cautiously.
- Do not take empty stomach.