Curcuma, Indian Saffron, Yellow Ginger, Karmin, Tumeric

Curcuma longa syn. C. rotunda, C. domestica, Amomum

curcuma F. Zingiberaceae

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A perennial plant of the ginger family, native to India and parts of Asia. Propagated in spring from thick knobbly roots, called rhizomes, which have thick, side-shoots called ‘fingers’. Leaf stalks rise to 1 metre or more high. Leaves are lanceshaped. Floral spikes 20cm long, with thick clusters of palegreen pockets with creamy/yellow foxglove-like flowers peeping out of each pocket, and a mild spicy aroma.

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Medicinal Uses

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In 1990, D.K. Shalini in ‘Biochemical Pharmacology’ reported that turmeric provided DNA protection from oxidative damage, by carcinogens. In 1988, N.T. Huang reported that skin tumours in mice were inhibited at the rate of 98% by turmeric. Natural health practitioners often recommend turmeric to cancer patients, (especially for colon and breast cancer) as the spice assists the liver and gall bladder. People with digestive weaknesses, and flatulence, could consider using turmeric freely, especially as a flavouring, with foods that are difficult to digest. Turmeric stimulates gall bladder muscles and increases bile flow, which is required to digest fats and to lubricate the intestines.

As well as stimulating bile flow, turmeric increases the output of the pancreas, which means the digestive enzyme production increases. Diabetics have found making a tea daily of 1 teasp. of turmeric, 1 pinch of cinnamon and cloves and 1/2 a crushed bay leaf, has enhanced the production of insulin by the pancreas. Research has shown turmeric helps lower cholesterol, internal blood clots, inhibits platelet aggregation and may be effective in conditions related to arteriosclerosis, particularly those related to thrombosis. Turmeric provides much the same effect as aspirin as a platelet inhibitor.

When turmeric is consumed as part of a meal, it is said to have the effect of binding the cholesterol substances in the food and rendering them incapable of absorption, and stopping them from clinging to the inside of arteries. As turmeric triggers better bile flow when taken with a meal, this helps digest fats and reduces the risk of gallstones. Turmeric also generates the secretion of several enzymes that assist the liver in breaking down and metabolizing certain toxic substances.

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