What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is well known as a spice used in Indian cuisine. It comes from the perennial plant of the Turmeric genus in the ginger family and is found in the subtropical regions of Asia.

 

Turmeric as Herbal Medicine and Ayurveda

In herbal medicine, turmeric is used as a valuable natural remedy offering various health benefits. It is included in the ancient Chinese medicine catalog, Shinshu-Honso, with a description of its many pharmaceutical efficacies. In Japan, turmeric has been valued as a natural medicine for centuries. It also has traditionally been considered as health food.

As a country, India produces and consumes the largest volume of turmeric worldwide. In India, turmeric is not only a spice and pigment, it is also used for medical treatment within the practice of Ayurveda (“the science of life”) which is a 5,000-year-old traditional knowledge system of natural healing. In cosmetic applications, turmeric helps to maintain beautiful skin and is considered indispensable for Hindu rituals. There is considerable empirical evidence to support the efficacy of turmeric health benefits based on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of its major ingredient, curcumin.

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the most significant active ingredient in turmeric. In determining the quality of a turmeric spice, the curcumin content is an important factor. In its chemistry, curcumin is a type of polyphenol. Known to have anti-inflammation benefits and antioxidant effects, consuming curcumin is considered conducive to good liver health and it has been shown to protect skin from stress due to oxidation by ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Research Supporting Curcumin Benefits

Active research throughout the world, including Japan, the United States and many other countries, have focused on the physiologic activation and medical usefulness of curcumin. Published literature regarding curcumin indicate the potential for efficacy with illnesses such as arteriosclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiac diseases and depression. With these early positive indicators, the physiologic functions and benefits of curcumin are drawing global attention.