Haldi (Curcuma Longa) (Turmeric)

How turmeric helps keep us healthy

Turmeric has been used in India since ages not only as a common household spice but also as a curative herb. Well documented by ancient ayurvedic texts and supported by a large number of scientific studies, the last few years have seen an increased interest in its medicinal properties. Turmeric (commonly called haridra or haldi) is the rhizome of the plant curuma longa which is used for medicinal and culinary purposes.

The major chemical constituent of turmeric is known as curcumin which is responsible for many of its pharmacological activities. Turmeric possesses antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-hepatotoxic (liver protective) and anti-allergic properties. Ayurvedic texts have additionally described it to be good for skin ailments and also as a blood purifier, wound cleanser and healer, remover of body toxins, killer of abdominal worms and a wind-repellent agent.

Data obtained from several studies suggest that turmeric definitely has an anti-cancer role, may it be the countering of initiation, promotion and progression of the disease or of increasing the immunity by enhancing natural anti-oxidant functions of the body. Curcumin has shown good results while being used to treat squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and the ulcerating oral cancer. Evidence from laboratory and animal studies suggests that curcumin has potential in various other forms of malignancies like those of prostate, breast, cervix and colon.

Turmeric induces the flow of bile, which helps break the fats in our food. In its anti-allergic role, it is a drug of choice to be used for naso-bronchial afflictions, sinusitis and common coughs and colds. Added with any other herbal cough formula, turmeric enhances its efficacy. Because of its ability to reduce inflammation, turmeric is an effective adjunct to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Old ayurvedic texts additionally indicate it to be beneficial in many other health disorders like anaemia, jaundice, obesity and diseases of the urino-genital tract.

Turmeric is also known as a household beauty aid. As a constituent of “ubtans”, it enhances glow on the face and is a trusted medicine to treat blemishes, pimples and non-specific skin allergies and inflammations. Mixed and crushed with the same amount of dried amla and sugar, half a teaspoonful of this combination, if taken with water two times a day, boosts body immunity and can be given along with any other therapy to treat stubborn skin ailments. As a ready first aid, turmeric powder is applied on minor cuts, wounds and abrasions after mixing it in a little of desi ghee.

Since many of the herbs also have their contra-indications, an over-dose of turmeric, instead of protecting the digestive tract, can enhance acidity. Though turmeric gives all its routine benefits when used as a kitchen spice, its per day medicinal dose is one to three gm in two or three divided doses. Turmeric should not be taken singularly by those who are suffering from gall stones or the obstruction of the bile passage. Similarly, it should also be used carefully where the patient is taking any other medicine which acts as a blood thinner agent or delays its coagulation.


Haldi: a versatile medicine

In the event of a small emergency arising due to a knife cut in the kitchen, guess what will an average Indian housewife do. No prize for answering. She will find the closest and the safest household remedy at hand — turmeric or haldi.

Turmeric has been used as a herb and a spice in India for thousands of years. This yellow-coloured rhizome became the focus of world attention when an American pharmaceutical company moved to get a patent on it. Turmeric grows all over India and is cultivated as a commercial crop. Known by many names as haridra, nisha and kanchani in Sanskrit (and haldi in Hindi), its scientific name is Curcuma longa.

Turmeric finds mention in almost every ayurvedic treatise — ancient, medieval or modern. It has been described as tikta and katu (bitter and pungent), laghu, rooksha and ushna (light, dry and hot). Turmeric alleviates kapha and vata. Sages supporting Ayurveda have extolled it as digestive, astringent, anti-diabetic, and helpful in blood formation. It has also been described as varnya (good for skin).

Turmeric contains volatile oils, vitamin A, protein, minerals and an overwhelming amount of carbohydrates. Its main active constituent is a substance called curcumin, which has been shown to have a wide range of therapeutic effects. It is a known anti-bacterial, anti-allergic, carminative, diuretic and anti-oxidant herb. It is used in a number of diseases like acne, blemishes, burns, autoimmune disorders and liver diseases. Turmeric is currently being evaluated for its anti-cancer properties as curcumin has been shown to inhibit tumours of the skin and the colon when it is administered in the early stages of carcinogenesis.

Used both externally and internally, some of the common household prescriptions of turmeric are as under :-

* As household first aid, the turmeric powder is applied on cuts and bruises. It works as an excellent antibiotic.

* Apply a poultice of the turmeric paste with ghee or sesame oil, when bearably hot. It is an effective remedy for sprains, wounds and inflammed joints.

* Turmeric is an important ingredient in herbal cosmetics. Used in ubtans or face packs, it helps improve the complexion. Its powder with an equal quantity of powders of white sandal, orange peel, majeeth and rose leaves is an effective paste to cure blemishes and pimples.

* Make a powder of equal amounts of turmeric, amla and sugar. Take one gram of it twice a day for a couple of weeks. It is a tried medicine in conditions involving chronic pruritis and urticaria.

* Persons responding to seasonal changes with flu, coughs and running nose are administered honey mixed with turmeric or milk boiled with a little of turmeric.

Although turmeric is used in a number of classic ayurvedic medicines, Haridrakhand is the most famous. It is known as a good blood purifier, an anti-allergic medicine and a systemic corrector. For therapeutic use, turmeric can be given up to 2 gm in two or three divided doses in a day. Though its use is generally safe, an overdose can cause acidity and nausea. As turmeric can reduce blood clotting, it should be used with caution by people taking anti-coagulants.


Turmeric – Go for Gold

Ayurveda the ancient medical science is based on the principle of preventing diseases. It directs us to resist the diseases through our food habits and life styles. Same principle was stressed by Hippocrates also “Let your food be your medicine” was his advice to man kind .

Let’s know more about a very well known spice in Ayurveda yet not completely understood by common man. Over the last several years, there has been increasing interest in turmeric and its medicinal properties.

But Ayurveda has immensely praised the medicinal qualities of turmeric which finds its place in almost all ayurvedic preparations related to liver and skin disorders.

This herb has occupied the shelves of every Indian kitchen since 6000 years and is considered as king of kitchen. It is used daily in cooking. Apart from cooking it is also used as beauty aid and as a dye.

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) belongs to Zingiberacae Family and is a perennial plant that grows 3 to 5 feet high in the tropical regions .In India it is grown allover but specially in Bengal, Bombay and in Tamilnadu .

Ayurveda appreciates the medicinal qualities and color of turmeric. This is evident through the various names of turmeric specified in ancient texts of ayurveda. Some of these are

  • Haridra – enhancer of body complexion.
  • Kanchani – looks like gold .
  • Nisha – imparts beauty by enhancing complexion which is as beautiful as full moon night
  • Gowri – yellow in color
  • Krimighni – works as a Antibacterial and antihelmenthic.
  • Yoshit priya – used in Gynecological disorders.

In Hindi turmeric is known as haldi .

The rhizomes or roots of this plant are used as medicine and for other purposes. The rhizomes are boiled, dried and then powdered. This powder is used for all purposes.

The active chemical component of turmeric is curcumin.  Curcumin is a strong antioxidant and reduces inflammation by reducing histamine levels. Curcumin protects liver, reduces cholesterol, and prevents internal blood clotting thus preventing heart attacks and liver tissue damages.

Turmeric is very safe. But special precautions should be taken in persons who have gall stones, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers and obstructive jaundice.

Ayurveda explains the qualities of turmeric as light and dry. It has pungent and bitter taste. It is widely used in skin, respiratory and liver disorders. It purifies blood and enhances complexion.

Medicinal properties of turmeric – Go for Gold!

Effects of Turmeric—-

On Liver

Ayurveda has recommended this golden herb to purify blood and prevent it from clotting. It is extensively used to protect liver from toxins and microbial. Turmeric increases the secretion of bile, promotes free flow of bile. This herb can be used to overcome toxic effects of alcohol on liver. This reduces cholesterol and protects heart.

Use of ½  tea spoon  of turmeric with warm water rejuvenates the liver and expels toxins out of it.

On respiratory system

Turmeric is very effective in bronchitis, productive cough and asthma.

One spoon of turmeric boiled in milk should be consumed with a spoon of pure ghee in conditions like bronchitis, asthma and productive cough. This gives very good relief and expectorates excessively produced mucous in lungs.

On ageing—

The antioxidant properties of turmeric give us young looks and make us to feel young. It reduces inflammation in joints, protects the heart, reduces cholesterol and keeps us very healthy.

On Diabetes

It is widely used in ayurvedic preparations for diabetes. It lowers the blood sugar and increases glucose metabolism.

On Uterus

It initiates regular menstrual cycle and reduces menstrual cramps.

On skin

Blood nourishes the skin and it is known fact that pure blood always keeps the skin glowing and radiant. Turmeric purifies blood, nourishes skin and gives it a healthy natural glow and radiance.

A traditional face pack of India consists of gram flour, pure turmeric powder, milk and honey. This reduces inflammation of skin, smoothens it and prevents many skin ailments.

On Stomach and Intestines

Turmeric enhances digestion, normalizes metabolism and expels intestinal parasites
On Wounds

Turmeric accelerates healing process and readily reduces pain and inflammation. Thick Paste of turmeric applied on wounds acts as an excellent antibiotic and anti inflammatory.

On Yogis

Turmeric purifies and cleans the body. It is a tailor made herb for yogis. It increases the flexibility of muscles, reduces inflammation in muscles and joints and helps to perform yoga with confidence and delight.


    • Gary T, Chahalis
    • April 9th, 2011

    I am very interested in your information.The study of my own relationship to the rest of the world,both physically,mental- ly and spiritually,is at a precipice.Faced with many differ- cult physical illnesses,I’ve chosen a path of holistic approach to these problems.Being a student of nature and the science there of,I am affirmed in my convictions.The healing powers endowed in man,nature,and the power of prayer which excites them to bond. Thank you for listening. G.T.C.

  1. Usually I don’t write-up on blogs, but I wish to say that this article very forced me to do so! Thanks, incredibly nice article.

    • Sheeraz
    • May 8th, 2011

    What a wonder drug u have explained. Very good, congrats for BAHUT BADYA

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