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Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)

The root of the turmeric plant, which is a member of the ginger family, has been treasured by Ayurveda and by Chinese medicine for centuries as a treatment for liver, kidney and gall bladder ailments. But until the recent growth of interest in non-western healing traditions, turmeric primarily was only considered to be source of yellow dye and an Indian culinary spice - for instance, it is a standard ingredient in curry. Research has now verified the claims of the ancient Eastern traditions for turmeric. Other valuable medicinal uses for the spice have also been established. It has anti-inflammatory effects, increases efficient insulin use, fights fungal infections and soothes digestive upsets. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and inhibit blood clotting, which indicates that turmeric may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Turmeric prevents gallstones
If you have gallstones or if you tend to develop gall gravel, you can reduce your risk of suffering further problems by taking powdered turmeric. Naturopaths recommend 5-10 tsp. of turmeric for daily medicinal use. Simply add generous amounts to your cooking, and take capsules regularly.

Therapeutic effect :
The yellow pigment curcumin is chiefly responsible for turmeric's wide array of medicinal applications. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory. It stimulates the body to release its own cortisone. Curcumin is also antifungal and antibacterial; it seems to have antioxidant properties as well. In addition, it increases the body's ability to use insulin efficiently and helps prevent blood clot formation.

The curcumin compound is the primary medicinal component. Turmeric also contains other yellow pigments that aid in protecting the gallbladder and liver, an essential oil that increases appetite, and bitters that stimulate the secretion of digestive juices.

To relieve boils
Bringing a boil to a head allows it to open and drain more quickly so it van heal. A turmeric-clove compress can help. Steep 2 tbsp. each of freshly grated turmeric and whole clove buds in 1 qt. of boiling water for 15 mins; strain. Apply a clean cloth soaked in the liquid two or four times a day for half an hour. Cover with a hot water bottle and towel.

First Aid
Use antibacterial turmeric to treat minor cuts. Wash the wound, sprinkle on powdered turmeric and bandage.

Turmeric Chicken (Makes 2 servings)

1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. sal, pinch of black pepper
1 lemon
1 fresh chicken
4 tbsp. oil
2 large onions, diced
1 cup chicken broth
2 oz. raisins

  1. Thoroughly mix the turmeric, paprila, ginger, coriander, salt and pepper
  2. Cut a piece of lemon rind into thin strips. Squeeze out the lemon's juice, reserve
  3. Wash the chicken and cut it up into individual portions. Rub in the spices
  4. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil; add the onions and lemon peel, and then the broth, lemon juice and raisins. Braise, covered, for 30 min.

Take Care!
In large doses, turmeric may cause stomach upset and irritation. It is recommended that you avoid turmeric if you have a blood clotting disorder, you are taking a blood thinner or if you are pregnant. Don't give turmeric to children under 2 years.

Kitchen hints

  • Nearly every curry mixture includes turmeric. In India, recipes for curry powders, made fresh every day, vary among regions and even individual households. Curry powders can include 20 or more other herbs and spices. Turmeric gives curry its typically yellow-orange color
  • A pinch of turmeric adds flavor and appetizing color when added to chicken fricassees, rice and other grains and lentil dishes.
  • Turmeric is generally sold dried and powdered. However, you can often find the whole root, dried or fresh, in Asian food shops.
  • Store turmeric in tightly sealed containers. Store it away from light to maintain freshness. It will keep for about 2 months.
  • Turmeric is an affordable substitute for saffron if it is primarily color you seek. The flavors, however, are different.
  • Turmeric's yellow pigments yield beautiful, intense colors. The main pigment, curcumin is added to many food products for color. You however can use turmeric to dye many items from Easter eggs to fabrics.