The History of Turmeric
For over four thousand years, Turmeric has been used for food and its powerful medicinal properties. It has been utilized as a dye, perfume, cosmetic, and even holds sacred meaning in the Hindu religion. With turmeric being such a hot topic, let’s take a look at turmeric then and now.
Turmeric is a perennial plant which is native to South Asia and part of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. Most of the world’s turmeric crop is produced in India, where 80% of it is consumed. In fact, Erode, located in the state of Tamil Nadu, is known as “Turmeric City,” or “Yellow City.” This name stems from it being hailed as the most important turmeric trading center and producer in the world.
Turmeric and Religion
Turmeric holds meaning beyond food and medicinal purposes. The Hindu religion believes turmeric to be very sacred and a sign of success and prosperity to come. Traditionally, turmeric was, and still is, used during wedding ceremonies. It was also worn to keep them safe from evil spirits. Turmeric has also been used in rituals and ceremonies involving fertility and is said to have been worn in purification ceremonies.
Turmeric as a Dye
Turmeric’s vibrant color has been used as a dye for years. In wedding ceremonies, a mangala sutra is made from a string dyed in golden turmeric paste. The necklace is then tied around the bride’s neck by her groom during the ceremony. Thread and clothes are commonly dyed using turmeric’s bold coloring, including festival clothing and Buddhist robes.
Cooking with Turmeric
Turmeric can be eaten raw, used in teas, added for flavor and aroma, and most notably for coloring. With a touch of bitterness to its flavor, it is often used in various curry dishes from its powder form. The turmeric plant is grown in temperatures ranging from 68-86 degrees. The plants require a large amount of rain to produce a strong crop. Each year, they are harvested and their rhizomes are boiled for 30-45 minutes, then placed in an oven and dried before being ground into fine powder.
Turmeric as Medicine
Around 500BCE, turmeric became instrumental in Ayurvedic medicine. An ancient Indian practice of natural healing, Ayurvedic is still being practiced. Turmeric was often burned while sick patients inhaled the fumes for healing. It was also used to treat congestion in this manner. A turmeric juice blend was made to help heal cuts and bruises, while a paste form was beneficial for skin irritations, smallpox, and chicken pox.
Turmeric and the 20th Century
Although many cultures had been using turmeric for years, it was not until the mid-to-late 20th century that western civilization began to take notice of all that it has to offer. Through colonization and trading, turmeric made it to the west to stay. As the spice gained popularity in curry dishes, it soon gained recognition for its healing properties.
Today, we continue to conduct studies on its amazing healing properties, most notably, as an anti-inflammatory. By treating inflammation, many health issues are able to be managed, treated or even prevented. Turmeric is able to target inflammation because it contains various compounds known as curcuminoids. Of these curcuminoids, curcumin is the most beneficial, as it possesses several medicinal properties. It has provided benefits in health issues including thyroid problems, arthritis, cancer, and various skin concerns and has often been used to treat sprains, sore muscles, and reduce swelling.
Most Beneficial Uses Today
When used with a natural bioavailability enhancer, such as BioPerine, the body can absorb much more of turmeric’s vitamins and nutrients. Increased bioavailability is beneficial in the treatment, management, and/or prevention of health concerns, including:
When the body’s iodine levels are low, the thyroid does not function properly, and inflammation begins to set in. Turmeric is known to be used to reduce proinflammatory cytokines. Turmeric also seems to be responsible for helping to increase the body’s regulatory T cells; an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system to keep autoimmunity in line. Both of these play an important role in reducing thyroid inflammation. Turmeric can be beneficial with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune conditions.
Curcumin promotes the health of the colon by assisting with healing and regenerating when there are bacteria or a leaky gut. Turmeric use increases the stomach’s secretion of mucus, allowing the lining of the stomach to protect itself against gastric acid damage. It also helps in the digestion of fatty nutrients. It stimulates the gallbladder to produce and release bile which helps move cholesterol out, and straight to your colon for removal. Turmeric is extremely beneficial in decreasing the body’s toxicity levels.
Many additional digestive issues, such as abdominal pain and inflammation can be assisted through the use of turmeric. Other studies have shown that turmeric helps relieve other gastrointestinal issues such as IBS, indigestion, and ulcerative colitis. For a deeper look into these health concerns, take a look at our Top 5 Uses for Turmeric article.
Turmeric and Heart health
Turmeric has shown promising results in helping to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. While benefiting the lining of the body’s blood vessels, blood pressure is regulated; decreasing the occurrence of blood clots forming. This helps lower the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Studies found turmeric may even be considerably helpful in lowering cholesterol levels.
Turmeric’s Fight Against Cancer
As an antioxidant, turmeric helps relieve swelling and inflammation which is known to be a factor with cancer. This suggests that turmeric can act as a very powerful aid in the fight against cancer, while possibly providing treatment benefits. Turmeric appears to have the ability to protect the body’s healthy cells by slowing down the rate of cancer growth. Several studies have found cancer of the prostate, breast, colon, and skin are among those that have shown promising results. Additional studies, done on cancer cells, have noted that curcumin has an “anti-cancer effect.” Curcumin appears to kill off cancerous cells while preventing additional cells from growing.
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