Spotlight on Herbs: Turmeric

Spotlight on Herbs: Turmeric

Turmeric has traditionally held a place of prominence in Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to alleviate various sorts of musculoskeletal pain. But for you DYI-ers out there looking for natural options, ground turmeric can be used to make dye for homemade play dough, Easter eggs, and fabric. One interesting recipe I found for fabric dye involves boiling turmeric powder, purple cabbage, vinegar, and salt. Leading me to ponder, do you eat it or craft with it? Turmeric is versatile, to be sure.


Turmeric Essentials

  • Scientific Name
    Curcuma longa 

    Common Name (Western)

    Chinese Name (Pin Yin)
    Yu Jin, Jiang Huang 

    Widely available across Southeast Asia, China and the Indian Subcontinent

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  • At first glance, the turmeric “root” might be mistaken for a piece of ginger. In fact, one of the Chinese names for turmeric is jiang huang, which translates to “yellow ginger”. Upon cutting, the inside might inspire thoughts of sweet potatoes. But turmeric is in a class all its own, possessing the versatility for culinary, cosmetic, textile and medicinal uses. It simultaneously appears in recipes for curry powder, soap, fabric dye, and pain relief teas.

    The use of turmeric in traditional Chinese medicine is slightly confusing because the plant that is actually used is one of seven species of curcuma, some of which are the spice used in Indian cuisine, called turmeric. But as the Director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine, Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D. noted, “Some confusion exists surrounding the sources, properties, uses, and common naming of three herbs of the same genus… but the problem is not so great in Southern China and outside of China where the market materials have remained consistent and the reported uses are also relatively consistent… It is possible that source materials vary in China because some doctors do not find it necessary to distinguish these herbs, dismissing the differentiated properties and uses. In fact, the use of substitute herbs in different parts of China is not uncommon and the herbs need not even come from the same genus, or even the same plant family to be used interchangeably.”

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  • Turmeric has broken the confines of traditional Chinese medicine and become popular the world-over for pain relief, especially from arthritis. Its most famous constituent compound, curcumin is likely responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also has traditional indications for use for emotional disorders that modern nomenclature would call anxiety and depression. Other traditional uses include the treatment of jaundice and gall stones, leading to promising modern research in the use of turmeric for viral hepatitis.

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  • Pregnant women should avoid using turmeric as a dietary supplement. Eating Indian food is still fine, but lay off the chunks in the morning smoothly. People who have bleeding problems or who are taking anti-coagulant drugs like warfarin should also use caution when deciding if adding turmeric to their supplement routine is a good idea.

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Uses in Herbalogic Back In Action, Decompress MX, & Peacekeeper/ Peacekeeper CX

More than just providing a pretty yellow color, turmeric brings the much touted anti-inflammatory properties to the Back in Action family of formulas, making it popular for recovery from pain and soreness. Turmeric's effect to support emotional stability accounts for its appearance in both the Peacekeeper family of formulas as well as Decompress MX. Turmeric is also used in Peacekeeper and Peacekeeper CX to help with cramping pain. Herbalogic uses curcuma longa from the Sichuan province of China, cultivated on small cooperative farms.

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