Turmeric supplements are a product of turmeric, also affectionately known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger. Turmeric is an Indian spice from India which originates from the Curcuma longa plant. The rhizome, or rootstock of turmeric is bright orange in color, but otherwise replicates the skin and shape of its relative, the ginger root.
The turmeric found in turmeric supplements has been used for centuries in India and is one of the most highly regarded and commonly used spices in Indian cuisine. Turmeric’s appealing yellow tint brings color as well as flavor to a multitude of dishes, including curry, a mainstay of the Indian diet.
The process to make turmeric a powder, the form in which it is essential to the preparation of Indian food and turmeric supplements is to boil, peel, dry, and grind it. Turmeric exhibits excellent heat stability, lends a mildly warm, distinctive aroma and flavor to food, and has a reputation as the best known source for beta carotene.
Turmeric is not only utilized in cooking and turmeric supplements, but has many versatile functions. Turmeric was traditionally used in India for preserving food and dyeing woven and knitted materials.
The strength behind turmeric’s ability as a dye can be found through the stains it leaves behind on your clothes and kitchen counter. Buddhist monks caught on to turmeric’s capacity to change the color of fabric and found turmeric useful for dyeing their robes.
Today turmeric is used as food coloring and can be found in prepared yellow mustard, Indonesian, Caribbean and Thai curries, in addition to a variety of other foods, including dairy products, fats, oil, sauces, soups, cereals, candy, protein powders, and even pickles.
History of Medicinal Use
Long before turmeric supplements were available turmeric was used as a folk remedy as well as a cure in ancient Ayurvedic medicine, where it was considered a symbol of prosperity. Ayurveda means “the knowledge for long life,” while Ayurvedic medicine itself, native to India, is a combination of alternative and traditional medicine.
Turmeric was not only specific to Indian culture, but was included in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to:
- Treat liver and gallbladder problems
- Stop bleeding
- Ease chest congestion and menstrual discomfort
The healing properties of turmeric in the form of turmeric supplements are attributable to the Curcumin found within turmeric. Curcumin is a phytochemical (plant chemical), belongs to a class of compounds known as curcuminoids, and is a natural polyphenol, a group of chemicals which are responsible for numerous health benefits. These benefits range from healing wounds and burns to eliminating coughs and colds. Curcumin contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.
The Curcumin in turmeric supplements can play a central role in regaining or preserving heath.
Wood, Rebecca Theurer. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating. New York, NY: Penguin/Arkana, 1999. Print.