Turmeric is a miracle plant with several medicinal properties. Turmeric spices have been used in India since the earliest of times, as we know from the analysis of pots from the Indus Valley Civilization (c 2200 BC to 1800 BC). (Weber et al., 2011).

Since the Indus Valley Civilization, there has been extensive trade with India between the Assyrians, Mesopotamians, and Persians. Ancient tablets of Ashurbanipal (7th century BC) have listed large numbers of aromatic spices that were in use in the region, one that includes turmeric. Turmeric was probably used both in cuisine and as medicine. King Merodach-baladan II (721-710 BC) kept records of the different species of plants, including herbs and spices, that were cultivated in his garden (Tapsell, 2006).

It finds mention in the Ebers Papyrus (c. 1500 BC) from Egypt where, as in India, ii cleans wounds and is an anti-septic. The spice is mixed with honey to prepare an external ointment. In India, turmeric and clarified butter are heated, and cream is used to treat wounds. Turmeric enhances circulation in the affected region and aids the healing process.

Hindus regard turmeric as highly auspicious. The Mahabharata refers to the application of turmeric to purify the body. The tradition of applying turmeric paste on the groom and the bride in Hindu weddings in certain parts of India.

Dioscorides, too, lists turmeric as a medicinal remedy. He refers to it as a yellow spice. He relates the spice to ginger. Theophrastus (317-287 BC), in his writings, calls it an aromatic spice, “khroma,meaning “color” in Greek. The Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) mentions what he refers to as the Arabian saffron, probably because turmeric was supplied to the Roman army by Arabian merchants. Arabian traders brought turmeric to the region from India.

Araujo et al. (2001) and Aggarwal et al. (2007 and 2009) have noted curcumin’s anti-cancer, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and gastrointestinal actions. Curcumin is the bioactive compound found in turmeric. It is also helpful in treating liver and other ailments. Curcumin prevents Alzheimer’s disease (Balasubramanian, 2006; Yanagisawa et al., 2010; Yang et al., 2004; Lee, 2002; and Tomiyama, 2010). Turmeric is a miracle plant with many of its traditional medicinal properties getting validated in scientific studies.

It is an extensively researched species. The medicinal properties of curcumin have been subjected to human clinical trials, and it is close to getting inducted as a modern drug.

Additional reading:

Asian herbs and their wondrous health-giving properties

Books on natural remedies

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