Turmeric grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called "Indian saffron" because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.
Turmeric is an excellent source of both iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, and potassium.
Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Many Persian dishes use turmeric as a starter ingredient. Almost all Iranian fried dishes consist of oil, onions, and turmeric followed by any other ingredients that are to be included.
Turmeric is mostly used in savory dishes, but is used in some sweet dishes, such as the cake Sfouf. In India, turmeric plant leaf is used to prepare special sweet dishes, patoleo, by layering rice flour and coconut-jaggery mixture on the leaf, and then closing and steaming it in a special copper steamer (goa).
Folk medicine and traditional uses
In the Siddha system (since c. 1900 BCE) turmeric was a medicine for a range of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. A fresh juice is commonly used in many skin conditions, including
- improved Liver Functions
- antibacterial, and
- antiviral activities, which indicate potential in clinical medicine.
- In Chinese medicine, it is used for treatment of various infections and as an antiseptic.
- administration of curcumin or turmeric can suppress several stages of cancer development in multiple tumor models.
- irreversibly inhibit the multiplication of leukemia cells in a cell culture
- Help for Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers
- Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer; laboratory experiments have shown curcumin can prevent tumors from forming; and research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.
- An Effective Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
- Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases
- Protection against Alzheimer's Disease
- Turmeric and Onions May Help Prevent Colon Cancer. Curcumin, a phytonutrient found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercitin, an antioxidant in onions, reduce both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract
Tips for Preparing Turmeric
Be careful when using turmeric since its deep color can easily stain. To avoid a lasting stain, quickly wash any area with which it has made contact with soap and water. To prevent staining your hands, you might consider wearing kitchen gloves while handling turmeric.If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make your own fresh turmeric powder by boiling, drying and then grinding it into a fine consistency.
HistoryIt was first used as a dye and then later for its medicinal properties.
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