What is Turmeric?

Curcuma longa is turmeric’s proper botanical name. It is indigenous to southern Asia where it has been used for thousands of years as a culinary spice, food coloring, clothing dye, and natural medicine – turmeric curcumin for health and healing.

People are asking what is turmeric root, what is tumeric [sic], how to pronounce turmeric, and what are the best turmeric supplements? First of all, turmeric \TUR-mer-ik\ is spelled and pronounced with an “R” in the first syllable. Secondly, turmeric is technically not a root. Although it is commonly called turmeric root, is actually a form of underground stem called a rhizome.

turmeric plant with flower

Turmeric is the name for the whole plant, an herbaceous perennial that reaches three to five feet in height and produces one large flower at the center of each stalk. Turmeric is also the name for the spice produced from the plump root-like rhizomes that grow underground. Keep reading to learn how turmeric spice and turmeric supplements are extracted from this amazing plant.

Turmeric rhizomes are similar to the more common ginger rhizome, and both are members of the Zingiberaceae family. To create turmeric powder the whole plant is pulled out of the ground, and the rhizomes are boiled at 90-100 degrees Celsius for up to ninety minutes, then dried and ground.

Evidence indicates that around the 5th century BC turmeric emerged as an important element of Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian system of natural healing that is still practiced today. At some point, Polynesians transported turmeric on their ocean voyage to Hawaii where it became known as Olena. Today, ninety percent of all turmeric powder comes from India.

How Was Turmeric Discovered?

The Travels of Marco Polo is a travelogue based on the recollections of Polo’s Asian voyages as recounted to his cellmate in a Genoese prison between 1296 and 1299. Polo had been arrested for commanding a Venetian galley in a war against Genoa. While imprisoned, Polo told tales of his travels to anyone who would listen and his cellmate Rustichello da Pisa wrote them down.

The work was written in old French, so two layers of translation sometimes call the work’s integrity into question. Regardless, it is believed that Polo is the most likely candidate for introducing turmeric to the Western world. The following quote attributed to turmeric is drawn from the text “There is a plant which has all the properties of true saffron, as well the smell and the color, and yet it is not.” Sometime later, Europeans began enjoying the benefits of imported turmeric, calling it Indian saffron. And due to turmeric’s much lower cost than saffron, it quickly became widespread across the continent.

What is Curcumin?

Perhaps you are aware that turmeric is the key ingredient in curry, that it is used to enhance the color of butter and cheese, or that it is the spice that gives mustard its signature yellow hue. But turmeric is far more than just a colorful and aromatic spice. Its golden orange pigment results from three chemical compounds which together comprise the curcuminoid complex:

  • diferuloylmethane
  • demethoxycurcumin
  • bisdemethoxycurcumin

Curiously, the compound not containing the word curcumin, diferuloylmethane, is the one commonly known as curcumin, and the one most frequently studied for medicinal value. It is now known that the entire curcuminoid complex, as well as many other compounds found in the turmeric rhizome, act in concert to produce turmeric’s broad range of health benefits. So yes, curcumin is a key component of turmeric, but it is by no means the only beneficial component when evaluating the best turmeric supplements for health and healing.

What Does Turmeric Taste Like?

Some people think turmeric must taste something like curry. Well, sort of…but not exactly. Turmeric is a base ingredient of curry, but the uniqueness of curry results from adding various combinations of the following spices: coriander, cardamom, cumin, cayenne, caraway, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mustard seed, black pepper, fenugreek, and ginger.

When used as a spice, turmeric provides a surprisingly pleasant aroma and flavor that, for lack of a better term, is somewhat earthy. You’ll just have to try it to understand. A number of delicious ways to sample the taste of turmeric can be found in the Recipes section of this blog.

But you don’t have to use turmeric as a spice to enjoy its many health benefits. Most people take their daily turmeric in supplement form via capsules or liquid extract. If you keep scrolling down on this page, you will see the results of our tests and trials. Here we present our findings regarding the best turmeric supplements and provide links to additional information.

What is Turmeric Good For?

Thousands of empirical studies have shown that natural turmeric is more effective than synthetic pharmaceuticals across a broad spectrum of medicinal applications. Turmeric also enjoys another enormous advantage over pharmaceuticals, as there are no known harmful side effects. Turmeric is known to be safe when taken orally, applied to the skin or used in an enema.

Anti-inflammatory, Anti-oxidant, Anti-aging – Turmeric Curcumin for Health and Healing

Turmeric is best known for its effectiveness in the fight against inflammation. But equally important is turmeric’s powerful anti-aging properties resulting from its function as a free radical scavenging antioxidant.

Turmeric is renown for its healing properties in treating fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, jaundice, toothache, menstrual pain, bruising, urinary tract infections, inflammatory bowel syndrome, cystic fibrosis, depression and various forms of cancer.

Honestly, the spectrum of known and studied medicinal applications for turmeric is too broad to list in this introduction. Over time we will be regularly updating this blog with more articles summarizing the established wisdom and empirical evidence backing turmeric’s naturopathic healing properties as well as helpful culinary and beauty tips for the skin.

How to Use Turmeric Curcumin for Health and Healing

In our opinion, turmeric should be used daily as a flavorful spice and natural medicine. How much turmeric to take per day is a personal choice. We cook with a heaping tablespoon of turmeric powder and take 1500 mg of curcumin in capsule form every day. Turmeric can be the primary spice in soups, beverages, or almost any type of cooked dish – vegetable or meat.

In the About section, you can read how to use turmeric in a vegetable dish that cured the Turmeric Guru of a chronic autoimmune condition. In the Recipes section, there are articles on how to make turmeric tea, how to make turmeric paste, and how to take turmeric as medicine disguised as a dessert.

Because of its wide array of beneficial properties, turmeric has become extremely popular among all manner of healthful living practitioners. It can be purchased online in many forms ranging from powders, supplements, and extracts, to teas, juices, and candies. In support of your research on healthful living, the Benefits section of this site will be releasing articles summarizing selected studies providing scientific evidence of this remarkable plant’s curative properties.

What are the Risks When Taking Turmeric?

One could be forgiven for thinking a quick trip to the local grocer could fulfill one’s turmeric needs. Yes, turmeric can be purchased in the spice section of your supermarket, but caution is advised as these products are inconsistent and difficult to research. The FDA has recently recalled several lesser-known supermarket brands due to metals contamination. Many of these white label brands have curcumin concentration insufficient for medicinal value and use fillers, binders, preservatives, and other adulterating substances.

To maximize absorption and effect, turmeric must be ingested in proper form and quantity. For example, the medicinal efficacy of raw turmeric is actually not very high. Munching a turmeric rhizome, in addition to being a rather distasteful demonstration, will not provide health benefits comparable to high-quality supplements, powders and liquids formulated for optimal concentration and bioavailability.

In rare cases of overconsumption, some users may experience nausea, stomach cramps, dizziness or diarrhea. If planning to undergo surgery, one should curtail usage 14 days in advance as turmeric’s blood-thinning properties could inhibit clotting. Pregnant women and anyone with gallstones, bile duct obstruction, or excess stomach acid should consult their doctor before taking turmeric or curcumin supplements.

Bottom Line – Turmeric Curcumin for Health and Healing

The Turmeric Guru has been a daily user of supplemental and culinary turmeric for many years, and in this blog we will assist you in your quest toward enjoying the many benefits of turmeric, which we know to be true. But please understand that quality ingredients, proper formulations, and clean manufacturing processes are critical if one is to safely and effectively use this miraculous plant on a regular basis.

This is where the Turmeric Guru comes in. While we do not claim to have tried them all – at least not yet – we have tried a lot! We sincerely hope this blog can be helpful during your investigative journey.

So, we have assembled a continually evolving guide to the factors one should consider when choosing turmeric capsules, liquids, or spice in powder form. We will summarize product features, user reviews, recipes, personal experience, and objective empirical evidence which should help you utilize your critical thinking skills and power of discernment to evaluate the many options available.

Based on an enormous body of scientific evidence and personal experience, there is no reason why everyone should not be consuming some form of this amazing natural plant every day. The evidence of its preventive and curative properties is just too significant to ignore.

Pharmaceutical research often claims the discovery of miracle drugs that turn out to be little more than palliative symptom masking with serious side effects. Perhaps the miracles we seek have been freely given to us by our Creator and reside in the multitude of miraculous plants with which we share this earth.

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