Turmeric (Curcuma longa) belongs to the ginger family Zingiberaceae. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant that is native tropical South Asia, with as many as 133 species of Curcuma worldwide
This vivid yellow-orange spice is common in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking.
Lately, turmeric has been praised as a superfood that can fight cancer, ease depression, and more.
This should not be a surprise because Turmeric is a plant that has a very long history of medicinal use. The use of turmeric dates back nearly 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India, where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance.
It probably reached China by 700 ad, East Africa by 800 ad, West Africa by 1200 ad, and Jamaica in the eighteenth century. In 1280, Marco Polo described this spice, marveling at a vegetable that exhibited qualities so similar to that of saffron.
According to Sanskrit medical treatises as well as Ayurvedic and Unani systems, turmeric has a long history of medicinal use in South Asia.
Susruta’s Ayurvedic Compendium, dating back to 250 bc, recommends an ointment containing turmeric to relieve the effects of poisoned food.
Because of its brilliant yellow color, turmeric is also known as “Indian saffron.” Modern medicine has begun to recognize its importance, as indicated by the over 3000 publications dealing with turmeric that came out within the last 25 years.
Why Use Turmeric?
Several compounds in turmeric may support your health. The most well-known of these is curcumin. Scientists are excited about curcumin’s potential to ease depression and help antidepressants work better. But so far, research results have been mixed.
People with Alzheimer’s have chronic inflammation, and turmeric seems to have natural anti-inflammatory effects. So does turmeric fight Alzheimer’s? Sorry, there’s no strong scientific evidence yet that taking turmeric is an effective way to prevent the disease.
Because curcumin can help fight inflammation and keep blood sugar levels steady, it could be a useful tool to prevent or treat type 2 diabetes. One study followed 240 adults with prediabetes and found that taking a curcumin supplement over 9 months lowered their odds of developing diabetes. Research is ongoing, but a lot of the studies so far have been on animals, not people.
Research on turmeric’s ability to protect your ticker has been mixed. Some studies have found that turmeric can lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, while others concluded that the spice has no effect. Scientists continue to look into the heart-protective possibilities of turmeric.
One small study found that turmeric can help ward off heart attacks in people who have had bypass surgery.
Added, a recent study that followed women for three menstrual cycles in a row found that curcumin supplements helped ease PMS symptoms. A study on muscles from guinea pigs and rats suggests that turmeric could bring relief from menstrual cramps, too.
Lucky for me, Turmeric has shown promise for its ability to ease joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. However, we need more research before turmeric becomes a go-to arthritis treatment. *HINT… If you decide to try it for your joint pain, help your body absorb natural curcumin by eating your turmeric along with black pepper.
Early research, including a pilot study of 207 adults and another one using rats, has found that turmeric could help improve IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain. Like many things we’ve already covered here, more research is needed. Turmeric is also being studied as a treatment for diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Since its relative ginger is a well-known natural headache remedy, it’s no surprise that turmeric gets recommended as a headache treatment, too — especially for migraines. Although people sing its praises online, there’s little scientific evidence showing that turmeric can treat or prevent headaches, although one study suggests it could be part of a new approach.
Some people claim that putting a turmeric mask on their skin or eating turmeric will help fight stubborn pimples. This is perhaps because of the spice’s reported antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately, there’s no hard science to back this up. In North India, turmeric is commonly called “haldi,”, and in the south it is called “manjal,” a word that is frequently used in ancient Tamil literature.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, turmeric is used to cleanse wounds and stimulate their recovery by applying it on a piece of burnt cloth that is placed over a wound. Indians use turmeric, in addition to its Ayurvedic applications, to purify the blood and remedy skin conditions. Turmeric paste is used by women in some parts of India to remove superfluous hair.
Turmeric paste is applied to the skin of the bride and groom before marriage in some parts of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where it is believed to make the skin glow and keep harmful bacteria away from the body. Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of several sunscreens. Several multinational companies are involved in making face creams based on turmeric.
In lab and animal studies, turmeric has stopped the growth of tumor cells, helped detoxifying enzymes work better, and more.
What these studies can’t tell us, though, is what will happen in the human body when a person eats turmeric.
Plus, there’s a chance that turmeric might interfere with some chemotherapy drugs.
Turmeric is known as terre merite in French and simply as “yellow root” in many languages. In many cultures, its name is based on the Latin word curcuma. In Sanskrit, turmeric has at least 53 different names
Even though tissue culture has gained recent popularity, German Botanist Haberlandt invented the concept of cell culture in 1902. Tissue culture is seen as an important technology for developing countries for the production of disease-free, high-quality planting material and the rapid production of many uniform plants.
Tissue culture is defined as a technique of growing cells, tissues, organs in an artificially prepared nutrient medium under an aseptic condition in the laboratory.
ADVANTAGES OF TISSUE CULTURE ARE:
- Some plants, which do not multiply by seeds, can be propagated through plant tissue culture techniques.
- With the help of tissue through protoplast fusion, cell fusion, genetic engineering, and hybridization technique, new improved varieties of crops can be produced within a short time period.
- The plant produced by the application of tissue culture retain the power of disease resistance.
- Large no. of plants can be produced in a short time.
- Chemicals that are used in the tissue culture increase the capacity of produced plants to resist with biocidal chemicals, environment stress and competitive to survive over weed.
- Tissue culture can be used to minimize the growing space in commercial nurseries for the maintenance of stock plants.
- By tissue culture technique, a mutation can be introduced in the cultures and resistant mutants can be selected to produce resistant varieties.
DISADVANTAGES OF PLANT TISSUE CULTURE
- Chromosomal abnormalities appear as cultures age
- Undesirable change
- Expensive and labor intensive
How Much Turmeric?
The recommended turmeric dosage is between 500-2,000 mg of curcumin per day.
This daily dose should be enough to yield significant health benefits to those who remain consistent with the supplement.
Here are five side effects of turmeric worth knowing.
- Upset stomach.
- Turmeric is known to raise your body temperatures and cause inflammation in your stomach that may lead to abdominal pain and cramps.
- Risk of developing kidney stones.
- May cause nausea and diarrhea.
- May cause an allergic reaction.
- Iron deficiency.
Who should not take turmeric?
Because of its blood-thinning effects alone, pregnant women should avoid taking turmeric supplements.
Adding small amounts of turmeric as a spice to food shouldn’t be a problem.
How to use turmeric
- Blend it into smoothies: use 1 teaspoon for a subtle turmeric hit. Add up to 2 teaspoons for a more intense flavor. Include coconut oil in your smoothie to boost the turmeric absorption.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons to any soup recipe. It will add a deep golden hue to it.
- A natural in curries, turmeric brings warm flavors to any curry or stew. When you sauté the vegetables in oil, add in 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric.
- Add a color pop to rice dishes by adding ½ teaspoon turmeric to the water when cooking the rice.
- Boost the healthiness of mac and cheese by stirring in ½ teaspoon of turmeric to your cheese sauce. This works for both homemade and boxed varieties.
- When brewing regular tea, add in ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric to your mug before pouring in the hot water. You can also simply combine ground turmeric with hot water for a tisane.
- Make golden pancakes: Add ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric to your dry pancake mix. The color is amazing!
- Make a hummus topper: Combine ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric with 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds and sprinkle over hummus.
- Cook lentils or other legumes with onions, olive oil and 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric. You can either serve them as is or combine the cooked lentils with cooked quinoa and make patties out of them.
To use the fresh root, you first need to peel it. Just like with ginger root, I find it’s easiest to peel the skin using the edge of a spoon. Then simply grate with a grater or cut off whole pieces. You can wrap the unused portion tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.
- Add a 1-inch piece of turmeric root to smoothies. You can also include it in freshly pressed juices.
- Use the freshly grated root in marinades for chicken, fish, and beef. Simply add 1 teaspoon of the grated root to any marinade recipe for a flavor and color kick.
- Stir freshly grated turmeric into salad dressings.
- Intensify the flavor and color of pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins or a pumpkin loaf. Stir in 1 teaspoon of freshly shredded turmeric to the batter and bake as usual.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated turmeric to your stir-fry. You can add it in while you’re sautéing the vegetables.
- Sprinkle into egg dishes. It’s easy to add a teaspoon of turmeric to your scrambled egg mixture or add it into a frittata or quiche recipe. The color of the turmeric will enhance the color of the eggs.
- Make a savory yogurt bowl: Top plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of sea salt and a teaspoon of olive oil.
Fresh Turmeric Leaves
- Fresh turmeric leaves are used whole in select dishes.
- Turmeric leaves are used as a food coloring and as a basic ingredient in curry powders.
How To Plant Turmeric
Plant turmeric in the Spring. Simply cut rhizome fingers otherwise referred to as seeds to 2 to 3 inches. Leaving two to four buds. The cut areas should be surface sterilized with a 10% bleach solution, and then the seed pieces are dried.
Because sprouting of buds can be uneven, maintain seed pieces in a humid potting mix under 80% humidity before planting. Alternatively, tissue culture plantlets are available, which provide uniform and pathogen-free planting material. However, the yield and quality of the first-year harvest from tissue culture are usually lower than when planting rhizome seed pieces.
When planting containers, a well-aerated potting mix should be used, with components such as coarse coconut coir, peat, or bark. Tissue culture plantlets are planted at the crown, whereas seed pieces are planted about 2 inches below the surface.
Enough empty space should be left at the top of the containers to allow for mounding of the plants twice, around 45 and 90 days after planting, which will help increase the rhizome size.
Leaves can show tip burn if the substrate is not kept sufficiently moist, or if the fertilizer levels are either too low or too high.
Photoperiod. Turmeric is quantitative short-day plants for flowering and rhizome swelling.
They require a long day photoperiod of at least 12 hours for continuous growth without entering into dormancy, and gradually reduced daylength for rhizome production.
Therefore, as the temperature gets colder and the days are shorter in the fall, leaves turn yellow and plants enter dormancy. At this point, irrigation can be stopped and after three weeks the wilted plant tops can be cut off.
Harvesting. Three additional weeks may be allowed for rhizome drying before harvest. The harvest time after planting depends on the use.
For the most part, five months after planting is enough time for rhizomes that will be sold as fresh vegetables, with low fiber and pungency, and with segments of green leaves attached.
Rhizomes harvested between five and seven months after planting are suitable for curing and selling in retail, and for making preserves.
Rhizomes with longer growing periods are more suitable to be dried or used to extract essential oils.
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