Grown mostly in the South to the South East areas of Asia, turmeric is a spice that has been around for centuries. In its native form the turmeric plant is rather an attractive one. There is an abundance of green leaves and can be found with a lovely flower at its apex. In places such as India and Pakistan the growing season for this spice is ideal. The temperatures are warm and they receive an adequate amount of rain. It is a perennial plant that is harvested once a year and its rhizomes are kept for the following years planting.
Those that are not used are boiled then dried in extremely hot ovens before being ground into a fine powder that we know as turmeric. Pakistani and Indian cuisine are most noted for its use in recipes, but it can be found on store shelves around the world. The taste will depart a sense of bitter, peppery sense to the tongue, and when not used in recipes it is an excellent dye. In the thousands of years that this spice has been used as a flavoring for food, it has also been used as a popular dye for clothing. Rather than waste parts of the plant foods are often wrapped in the leaves before cooking.
In recent years turmeric has once again been recognized for its medicinal properties. Thousands of years ago the Siddha system of India found that turmeric was a healer of many bodily ailments. The gastrointestinal tract along with liver disorders and aches, pains, sprains and wounds were all said to be helped with the ingestion of turmeric. Applied topically it was considered a cure for things like scabies, shingles, eczema, and chicken pox. The compound known as curcumin is touted to be a ingredient in the spice that will act as an antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral property.
In ancient times when man had yet to discover all of the medicines used today, relying solely on spices and herbs as a cure all could be well tolerated. One of the major problems with using herbal remedies in today’s society is that there has been relatively little research done in regard to the safety of this spice and in what quantities it should taken. The minimal clinical tests that have been conducted are said to be inconclusive in the human trials that have been done. There are even present trials using turmeric as a cure for some cancers but the doses needed to be effective are not easy to establish.
Turmeric considered safe in small quantities such as those used in cooking, taken in larger quantities it has been known to cause some side effects. People have reported having bouts of sweating, diarrhea, and nausea. People who suffer from congestive heart failure, anyone who has a blood clotting disorder, or other cardiovascular diseases are strongly advised to speak with their physician before trying this as a remedy or cure all.
Many further trials need to be done and as of 2013 the potential of turmeric use is again being studied. Human tribulations such as arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, irritable bowel, and even Alzheimer’s are being looked at to see if these and other clinical disorders can be helped by the use of turmeric. While these studies are being performed it is probably best to use turmeric for cooking purposes only where the quantities are not likely to cause side effects or interact with a pharmaceutical drug that one may presently be taking.
If found to be the cure for the vast number of ailments it was used for century’s ago, this spice along with many others, could replace many of the harmful drugs humankind is taking today.