Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), and is also known as Curcuma longa
. The herb is native to tropical South Asia, and for healthy growth needs temperatures roughly between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and a good amount of rainfall. The plants are annually gathered for their rhizomes (underground stems), and are re-seeded from some of those for the next crop.
In India, turmeric is readily available and has been used by many as an antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises, and has also been used as an antibacterial agent. It is said to contain fluoride, which some claim is beneficial for teeth (others state that this substance may be harmful for the teeth or body in general). In some countries, this herb is also taken as a dietary supplement as one of the suggested turmeric benefits is help with stomach problems. The herb is being investigated for potential benefits in conditions of Alzheimer's disease, cancer
, and liver disorders. In Japan tea from it is a popular item in the city of Okinawa. Another of the supposed turmeric benefits is for treating depression.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health began four clinical trials for uses of curcumin (this herb's active agent) in treatment for Alzheimer's disease, colorectal cancer, multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer.
A study by the UCLA Veterans Affairs in 2004 suggested that curcumin might inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, and also may be useful in breaking up existing plaques of beta amyloids. It was noted that amongst claimed turmeric benefits is its use as an anti-inflammatory for a variety of ailments, as done in India.
Some other potential or considered turmeric benefits which need more study include treatment against: tumors, cystic fibrosis, psoriasis, breast cancer
, lung cancer, and pain (as a pain reliever: antinociceptive).
View a longer list of potential turmeric health benefits
Turmeric side effects are not many, but may occur with use of more than the recommended doses. Doing so may cause upset stomach or other gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation. Also, this herb should not be taken in some situations, including if you have a bile duct blockage, a blood-clotting disorder, or stomach ulcers (or a history of them). Pregnant and nursing women should use discretion in using turmeric, as the effects in such cases are unknown.
In some Asian countries, turmeric is called kunyit or haldi. It is often misspelled, or mispronounced, as tumeric.
Aside from medical uses, it is also used as a spice, in cosmetics, as a dye, and in gardening.
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