Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, a relative of ginger. This plant is cultivated in India, Asia, Indonesia as well as parts of Africa. It requires a large amount of rain to thrive. When harvested, the root is chopped into pieces, then boiled and allowed to dry in the sun. In India, turmeric has been used as a dye for clothing as well as food. Turmeric has been called Indian saffron and is an integral part of both the cuisine and the medicine of that country. Turmeric has a deep yellow color that makes it a good coloring agent for foods like yellow mustard and salad dressings. Turmeric is widely known as one of the ingredients in curry.
Aside from its use as a dye and its distinctive flavoring, turmeric has long been used as a medicine in both India and China. The root has natural anti inflammatory properties which have long been established. The qualities of turmeric have been compared to those of over the counter medicine like Motrin. Turmeric has also been shown to have properties like those of hydrocortisone Unlike some over the counter medications used to treat inflammation, turmeric has none of the toxic side effects like intestinal bleeding and ulcers. Turmeric is a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used to assist in the healing of cuts and other injuries.
Turmeric has been used in conjunction with cauliflower to stop the growth of human prostrate cancer cells in mice. When used alone, turmeric and cauliflower were not effective in preventing the spread of existing tumors in mice. When used together however the combination of cauliflower and turmeric showed some signs of keeping the cancer from metasizing. There is some evidence that turmeric may prevent metasization of other cancers as well. A test with mice indicated that turmeric prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs of mice.
There have been laboratory tests done that suggest that turmeric may be helpful in preventing heart failure. In a test performed at two separate universities, rats who were given curcumin, an ingredient in turmeric showed a greater resistance than those rats not receiving curcumin. The tests in both studies produced similar results. Nether of these studies have moved to human trials, so there further testing needs to be done.
Turmeric can be purchased in capsules in most health food stores. There is no evidence that adding turmeric to your diet is harmful to anyone except for people who have problems with bile obstruction or gall bladder disease. Although it is used as an ingredient in cooking, women who are pregnant should be aware that turmeric can stimulate uterine contractions. Anyone who adds turmeric to their diet as a supplement should inform their doctor . Your physician needs to be aware of all supplements and medicines you use to treat you properly.
Sources: World’s Healthiest Foods