Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, including being a revered member of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. It has only recently become popular in Western cultures. 


Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.


  • Anti-carginogenic

  • Increased metabolism

  • Anti-inflammatory​

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Anti-oxidant

  • Aids in digestion

  • Improves liver function

  • Cardiovascular protection

  • Effectively treats inflammatory bowel disease

  • Relief for arthritis

  • Protection against Alzheimer's disease

    Source: The World's Healthiest Foods



Grate into any meal and cook together with food. Always combine with black pepper and some fat or oil as turmeric is lipophilic (oil soluble). We recommend coconut oil! Ideally though, turmeric should be consumed raw to prevent the loss of nutrients and curcumin.  Again: combine turmeric with black pepper!



For adults the official recommendation is up to 1.5g per day, which will be about one very slightly rounded teaspoon that can be divided over two to three doses daily.  Therapeutic doses are considered to be 2-3g. Not recommended for small children under two.  For older children and those over 65, start with a low dose.



According to research, piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper will significantly increase the bio-availability of curcumin by 2000% (20 times more).  Turmeric has poor bio-availability due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal walls.  Piperine works through various mechanisms to enhance absorption of ALL nutrients.



Turmeric has hundreds of molecular constituents, each with a variety of biological activities. There are at least 20 molecules that are anti-biotic, 14 that are known cancer preventatives, 12 that are anti-tumor, 12 are anti-inflammatory and there are at least 10 different anti-oxidants. One database presented over 326 known biological activities of turmeric. The rhizome is 70% carbohydrates, 7% protein, 4% minerals, and at least 4% essential oils. It also has vitamins, other alkaloids, and is about 1% resin. The active ingredient in turmeric is called “curcumin”, although in its raw state turmeric only contains 2-5% curcumin. Curcumin is the substance that is responsible for the biological activity of turmeric. Turmeric is now the basis of much scientific research.


For long-term storage of your turmeric, keep it in a dry cardboard box with adequate ventilation and out of direct sunlight.  Make sure to check on your stock periodically to prevent insect infestations and the development of mold. Eventually, your turmeric rhizomes will pass their dormancy period and begin to sprout.  Not to worry! They are still fully usable, and the fact that they are sprouting tells you that they are still very full of life!




Scientists are beginning to realize the importance of turmeric/curcumin in treating modern disease. Much research has been conducted on the various effects of curcumin in the body; the most widely researched is that of its effects on Cancer. In both India and Pakistan, where curry/turmeric is a dietary staple, boast much lower incidence of cancer than in other countries where turmeric is not regularly consumed. Turmeric is considered to fight Cancer in three ways: It neutralizes those substances and conditions which can cause cancer; It directly helps a cell retain its integrity if threatened by carcinogens (a substance showing significant evidence of causing cancer or growth of cancer cells); If a tumor does grow the curcumins can often destroy it. There are many reasons why turmeric helps to destroy Cancer. One of the keys to this activity is the ability of curcumin to inhibit the enzyme Topoisomerase, which is required for the replication of cancer cells. Topoisomerase works within the nucleus of the cell, where it first binds to supercoiled DNA and then catalyzes the passage of one DNA helix through another via a transient double-stranded break. This splits the DNA and thus allows cell replication to occur. Stopping Topoisomerase stops replication which stops the spread of the problem.


Curcumin is also one of the most studied natural COX-2 inhibitors, which block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2. This is beneficial because the COX-2 enzyme helps make carcinogens more active in the body and allows cancerous cells to survive by growing new blood vessels. In essence, curcumin completely blocks the formation of cancer causing enzymes, decreasing the likelihood of cancerous cell formation or growth. Curcumin is also rich in antioxidants, which are important disease fighting substances that help to clean up unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals) that can damage cells and cause diseases such as Cancer. Other antioxidants and COX-2 inhibitors are red grapes, green tea, rosemary, and bee propolis.


Even when using more allopathic methods to treat cancer, turmeric/curcumin still helps to increase the effectiveness and decrease some of the side effects of cancer treatments. Current research suggests that including curcumin in the diet during the “initiation and or post initiation periods” of cancer significantly suppresses the development of chemically induced tumors. In summary, research is showing that curcumin may be more effective treatment for cancer in the beginning phases of the disease, as well as preventative treatment throughout life before cancer even emerges. A study performed in 1992 on 16 cigarette smokers who took 1.5 g of turmeric a day for 30 days had much lower mutagenic levels in their urine than those who did not include turmeric in their diet. Mutagens are substances that cause cell mutation and increase the occurrence of cancer. There is, however, some new research suggesting that taking curcumin may counteract the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Thus, many cancer treatment programs are developing a periodic schedule of use to avoid any issues.


“We have not found a single cancer on which curcumin does not work”, states Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, who conducts cancer research at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore , India. Ayurveda especially recommends turmeric for cancers of the female reproductive system, specifically breast and uterine cancer, and to treat benign tumors as well. Although the current research looks promising, there have been very few long term tests performed on large quantities of humans. Turmeric was recently nominated by the National Cancer Institute for more study, so we look forward to many more research findings in the future.



Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb. It has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, injuries, trauma, and stiffness from both under activity and over activity. It is also helpful after surgery to decrease pain, inflammation and accelerate healing. One study conducted in 1986 showed that a dosage of 1200 mg of curcumin a day was more effective in reducing post-surgical inflammation than either the placebo group or anti-inflammatory medication normally prescribed. In India, turmeric is considered the standard anti-inflammatory, and yogis use it to help keep their tendons and ligaments free from injury and to assist in their asana practice. In the same way, it minimizes pain and inflammation related to any kind of exercise or strenuous activity. Majeed states: Perhaps Turmeric's most important anti-inflammatory mechanism centers on its effects on the Prostaglandins (PGs), a large family of potent lipids produced by the body. PG1 and PG3 calm the body while PG2 inflames the body. Turmeric is a potent inhibitor of cyclooxygenase 5-lipoxygenase and also 5-HETE production in neutrophils. Reducing these enzymes means less arachidonic acid metabolism, which means less PG2, which means less pain and inflammation. Some sources suggest that turmeric/curcumin is most effective for acute inflammation, and not for chronic. Many sources recommend turmeric for Arthritis but the scientific evidence is still unclear and much more research is underway.



Turmeric also protects the liver from toxins and pathogens. It is known to both destroy toxins in the liver, and to rebuild the liver after a toxic attack. Turmeric increases the secretion and movement of bile, and may prevent all forms of liver disease. Excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol can tax the liver and lead to liver diseases. One study shows that curcumin blocks some of the harmful side effects of cigarette smoke, and prevents dangerous chemical formation after eating processed food. It is also helpful in treating food poisoning. Traditionally, about 5 grams of Turmeric is taken with a glass of whey, morning and evening, for a month to activate and rebuild a liver. In essence, turmeric helps keep the liver healthy so it can do its job of keeping the body detoxified.



Turmeric also has a special action to help the entire Gastro-Intestinal system by increasing intestinal flora and generate healthy digestion. It is traditionally used for weak stomachs, poor digestion, dyspepsia, parasites, abdominal cramps, to normalize metabolism, to help digest protein and breakdown of fats, to increase absorption, and the ability of the stomach to withstand digestive acids. Turmeric is also a carminative: it helps to decrease gas and distention. As a vulnerary it also helps to nurture and heal mucous membranes; it has a strong protective effect against food and materials that are corrosive to the stomach and intestines as from food poisoning. In a 1989 double blind study (the participants and researches did not know which groups were taking the herb or the placebo) conducted in Thailand , 500mg capsules of curcumin were given to 116 adults suffering from indigestion at six different hospitals. Stunning results showed that 90% of those taking the curcumin felt full or partial relief after seven days, while 53% of the placebo group felt relief.



Another major use of turmeric is support of the respiratory system. As an anti-oxidant it protects the lungs from pollution and toxins. It also helps the oxygen transfer from the lungs to the blood. Turmeric with ghee is traditionally used to get rid of cough and to treat asthma. It also supports the heart in many ways. A study conducted in 1992 shows that turmeric may assist in lowering cholesterol and prevent Atherosclerosis (blockage of arteries that can cause heart attack and/or stroke). Animal studies have shown that turmeric lowers cholesterol levels and inhibits the oxidation of LDL (“bad cholesterol”, responsible for clogging of arteries). When LDL becomes oxidized, it creates deposits in the walls of blood vessels and contributes to the formation of arteriosclerosis. Turmeric may also prevent platelet buildup along the walls of injured blood vessels, another common cause of blood clots and artery blockage that can result in heart attacks and strokes.



Studies are also underway regarding turmeric's believed effects in treating and preventing neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's Disease. This belief generates from the realization that elderly Indian people who eat turmeric on a regular basis are far less likely to develop these ailments than those who do not eat turmeric. In fact, Alzheimer's Disease is 4.4 times less common among older adults in India than in the United States. It has been noted that people taking anti-inflammatory medication for Arthritis are less likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease. Since turmeric possesses such a powerful anti-inflammatory action, scientists speculate that it most likely will have a preventative effect on such disorders.

Credit: California College of Ayurveda


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