It’s important to know that the vast majority of studies on turmeric have not examined the spice itself, but rather one of its constituents called curcumin. When you hear about the benefits of turmeric on a website or on a health news report on television, you are mostly likely hearing about the benefits of curcumin. This aspect of the health research can be very confusing!
The dried powdered spice that many people use in recipes comes from the root (rhizome) portion of the plant Curcuma longa. The unprocessed form of this root bears a strong resemblance to ginger root, and that resemblance is not a coincidence! Turmeric, ginger, and cardamom are plants all belonging to the Zingiberaceae family—also known as the ginger family. You’ll sometimes hear turmeric being referred to as Indian saffron since its deep yellow-orange color is similar to that of saffron. You’ll also sometimes hear it being referred to as curcuma, after it’s best-studied polyphenolic component, namely, curcumin. Turmeric has been used throughout history as a culinary spice, herbal medicine, and fabric dye.
Turmeric is bitter, astringent, pungent, and healing. Taken in small amounts it is tridoshic like cumin. It may unbalance V and P if taken in excess. It is good for digestion, relieves gas, and increases peristalsis. It improves and balances metabolism in the body. A rhizome of the plant Curuma longa, it is the spice that gives curry powder its coloring. It is said to purify the subtle nerve channels of the body.
Turmeric plant can be easily grown at your home garden or as a potherb so that its fresh root and leaves can be readily available for use as and when required. In the herb store and local markets, fresh as well as dry turmeric horns can be readily found. Otherwise, one may choose packed turmeric powder from the authentic manufactures (since adulteration is not uncommon). Whenever possible, try to buy branded organic product which will give you some sort of assurance that it has not been irradiated and free from pesticide residues.
Fresh roots can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month or so. Its powder, however, should be stored inside the refrigerator in airtight containers.
Good for all seasons.