Turmeric is a spice widely used in India in cooking various curries. It has also been used since ancient times as a traditional medicine and also for beauty care. In the Ayurveda system of Indian medicine, it is an important herbal medicine prescribed for various ailments. It is very commonly used throughout India as an ingredient for traditional beauty care treatments. In fact, it is even used in modern times to plug radiator leaks in water-cooled radiators.
Raw turmeric is actually a rhizome of curcuma longa similar to ginger in appearance. This raw vegetable is crushed and the strained extracted juice forms a translucent reddish- yellow liquid which is more or less tasteless. These juice is then to be taken either raw or if the person wishes, mixed with honey preferably early in the morning on empty stomach. A wide range of benefit is described for this treatment in the Ayurveda. The main use of turmeric juice taken regularly is as a blood purifier. In this context, it is believed to enhance health of the whole body. It is also said to be most beneficial in chronic illnesses with generalized weakness and in diseases like renal failure where toxins are released into the body. The other use of turmeric juice is in stomach ailments. It is said to have a soothing effect on the stomach and thus helps in diseases like hyperacidity and indigestion. Taken regularly, it gives a healthy glow to the skin also.
Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, so it may be used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is a body response to irritation, injury, or infection. It usually includes pain, redness, and swelling in the area of the damage and it can occur within body tissues as well as on the surface of the skin. In recent studies, curcumin - a chemical contained in turmeric -- has been found to limit the activity of two enzymes, lipooxygenase and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), that are involved in promoting and maintaining inflammation. By reducing the effects of these enzymes, curcumin may also reduce inflammation and the pain associated with it. It is believed that curcumin may prevent the growth of blood vessels that support tumor growth and it may also speed up the rate at which cancer cells die. It may have additional anticancer effects, as well. Turmeric is known to be a strong antioxidant, a substance thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals produced by oxidation, may suppress immune function and cause tissue damage. In addition to their anticancer effects, antioxidants in turmeric may protect the kidneys and liver from damage by radiation or chemicals such as dry cleaning fluid. All of these effects need further study.
The properties of this herb are cholagogue, hepatic, stomachic, carminative, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. The primary chemical constituents of Turmeric Root include curcumin (yellow pigment) essential oil (artumerone, zingberene, borneol), valepotriates, alkaloids, and protein. Turmeric helps to stabilize the body's microflora, thus inhibiting yeast overgrowth. It also sensitizes the body's cortisol receptor sites, and its anti-inflammatory properties are considered at least equal to those of cortisones. Turmeric prevents blood platelet aggregation that can lead to dangerous blood clots. Turmeric Root also helps to protect the liver, and is excellent for those exposed to toxic chemicals. Turmeric is also anti-mutagenic, and helps protect the body from mutagens such as smoke and other pollutants. Studies on Turmeric have verified that the herb possesses cholagogue-type substances which increase the secretions of bile. It has also been suggested that Turmeric lowers blood cholesterol and helps with weight loss. Recent investigations suggest that curcuminoids may be active in the external treatment of certain cancerous conditions, this is presumably connected with the cytotoxicity of these substances, which has been demonstrated on cell cultures, including tumor cells. Past topical applications of this herb include its use as a poultice for athlete's foot, bruises, psoriasis, swellings, and wounds.