Turmeric: A Spice that Heals

Ayurvedic Healing properties of turmeric
Ayurvedic Healing properties of turmeric

Indian Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a leafy, aromatic plant in the ginger family with a unique spicy fragrance. The spice made from the plant’s rhizome is a staple of Indian cuisine. Turmeric is a potent medicine widely used in Ayurveda and traditional herbal medicine. Modern medical studies have found that ‘curcumin’, one of the components of turmeric, is the most biologically active component with healing properties. In the ancient Indian Vedic civilization, turmeric was revered as a holy powder, dating back nearly 5000 years.

Dry turmeric is added as an offering in fire sacrifices (homa, yagna), releasing a cleansing and healing smoke. The spice is called ‘Indian saffron’. Thanks to its brilliant yellow colour, it is an ideal choice as a food flavour, an effective ingredient in medicines and cosmetics, and a natural colorant.

Health Benefits

  • In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, turmeric has been prescribed for the treatment of upper respiratory disorders, jaundice, as a stomach and intestinal soother, and as an anti-inflammatory substance.
  • Turmeric powder in warm milk is useful in conditions of sore throat and cough with expectoration. The hot milk eases the throat and turmeric fights throat infection.
  • The antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antiseptic properties of turmeric prove effective topically in various skin disorders including skin cancer.
  • Turmeric is popularly used to create face masks by blending turmeric powder with yogurt, honey or milk and applying the paste to the skin.
  • A combination of turmeric with sandalwood powder as a paste can be applied to the skin to combat acne.
  • Women in India and parts of Asia use turmeric masks on a daily basis for skin rejuvenation and to soften the appearance of lines and wrinkles, also significantly reducing the facial hair.
  • For maintaining elasticity of skin and to prevent stretch marks in pregnant women, a mixture of turmeric powder with yogurt is applied to the abdomen and wiped off after 5-10 minutes.
  • Turmeric with a gram of flour, mixed in water can be used as an overall body scrub before showering. Doing this regularly gives a glowing skin.
  • For toothache and gum infections, a mixture of turmeric, rock salt and mustard oil can be applied to the affected area around two to three times a day, followed by washing the mouth with warm water.
  • A combination of table salt and turmeric powder used as tooth powder relieves one from tooth infections.
  • For heavy headache, sinusitis, cold, or throat irritation, a piece of dry turmeric rhizome is used with the help of tongs, the other end placed in a flame of a lit lamp. Inhaling the fumes gives instant relief. Or, add to water for steam inhalation.
  • In India, it is a common practice to apply a paste of turmeric to minor cuts and bruises. Its antiseptic property is perfect as it quickens healing. If you feel a burning sensation, it just means the turmeric is acting!
  • As an effective anti-inflammatory, turmeric is used in treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. Turmeric powder taken thrice daily helps reduce swelling and inflammation around joints.