Also Known As: Turmeric, Curcuma longa
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) /ˈtɜrmərɪk/ is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropicalSouth Asia and needs temperatures between 20°C and 30°C (68°F and 86°F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and propagated from some of those rhizomes in the following season.
When not used fresh, the rhizomes are boiled for several minutes (about 30-45 minutes) and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell. Curcumin has been a centre of attraction for potential treatment of an array of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, allergies, arthritis and other chronic illnesses.
In India, turmeric has been used traditionally for thousands of years as a remedy for stomach and liver ailments, as well as topically to heal sores, basically for its antimicrobial property. In the Auyurvedic 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 eczema, chicken pox, shingles, allergy, and scabies. The active compound curcumin is known to have a wide range of biological effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antibacterial, and antiviral activities, which indicate huge potential in veterinary and clinical medicine. In Chinese medicine, it is used for treatment of various infections and as an antiseptic.