The principle organs that it treats are the skin, heart, liver and lungs.
Activities of Turmeric include:
alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti- tumor, anti-allergic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, appetizer, astringent, cardiovascular, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, stimulant, and vulnerary.
Therapeutic uses include: AIDS/HIV, anemia, cancer, diabetes, digestion, food poisoning, gallstones, indigestion, IBS, parasites, poor circulation, staph infections, and wounds.
Turmeric helps regulate the female reproductive system and purifies the uterus and breastmilk, and in men it purifies and builds semen, which is counterintuitive for a pungent bitter.
It reduces fevers, diarrhea, urinary disorders, insanity, poisoning, cough, and lactation problems in general. It is used to treat external ulcers that respond to nothing else.
Turmeric decreases Kapha and so is used to remove mucus in the throat, watery discharges like leucorrhea, and any pus in the eyes, ears, or in wounds, etc.
Names of Turmeric
Every Ayurvedic herb typically has dozens of names that point to different aspects of the herb including its appearance, it's mythology, and it's healing ability. I feel that learning an herb’s names is an essential way to study the herbs. The most common of the dozens of Sanskrit names for Turmeric is Haridra, which can be translated to mean ‘the yellow one.’
The Hindi name is Haldi, which means ‘yellow,’ and the Latin binomial is Curcuma longa, a member of the Ginger family, Zingiberaceae.
A World of Turmeric
“I have found a plant that has all the qualities of Saffron, but it is a root.”
(Marco Polo on Turmeric, 1280 AD).
As far as documented evidence, it is used daily in India for at least 6000 years as a medicine, beauty aid, cooking spice, and a dye, though I am sure its use goes back at least 30,000 years.
Ostensibly it was used to worship the Sun during the Solar period of India, a time when Lord RamaChandra walked the Earth.
Especially in South India, you can see people wearing a dried Turmeric rhizome bead the size of a large grape around their neck or arm. This is an ancient talisman tradition used to ward off evil and grant to the wearer healing and protection.
Europe rediscovered turmeric 700 years ago via Marco Polo, and it is used in traditional Brazilian medicine as a potent anti-venom to neutralize the bleeding and lethal poison of Pit Vipers.
For at least 1000 years Chinese Medicine has used Turmeric especially for the Spleen, Stomach, and Liver Meridians.
They use it to stimulate and purify, and as an anti-biotic, anti-viral, and an analgesic.
As such it is used to stimulate and strengthen the blood and decrease blood pressure, to clear abdominal pain and stagnation in men, women and children, and to remove stagnant Chi, the pain due to stagnant Chi, and excessive wind element.
They consider it one of the better herbs for women because it stimulates the uterus and clears menstrual stagnation, dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea due to congested blood arising from a lack of heat or simply a deficiency.
The Indian practice of applying the root paste to the ace to cure any blemishes is popular in this tradition as well.
Turmeric in Aromatherapy
The essential oil contains hundreds of different medicines but the main ones are Sesquiterpene alcohols and hydrocarbons.
The essential oil taken internally or used externally it is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti- parasitic, and anthelmintic.
As with all essential oils care must be taken when using it internally.
Internal dose of the oil is 5 drops in a glass of water or tea with a teaspoon of honey stirred in.
The Skin’s Beautician
Internally or externally, the most special prabhava of Turmeric is that it is skin food: it purifies and nourishes the blood and skin so that the glow of health is not attenuated by blemishes and impurities but rather amplified through clarity.
The classic way to apply Turmeric topically is as an Ubtan where you mix Turmeric with chick-pea flour, sesame or almond oil, a little fresh cream and honey.
Turmeric is a great dye and will make your clothes and skin yellowish for a few days so take care when you are applying it. I permanently dyed my Champion juicer yellow after juicing fresh Turmeric just once.
It is known that Turmeric, and especially the Curcumins, inhibits skin cancer, likely due to decreasing the expression of proto-oncogenes.
External application stops pain and swelling, heals wounds, and treats many skin diseases ranging from acne to leprosy. For instance, freckles, known as Jhanyin in Sanskrit, is treated by mixing a large spoonful of Turmeric with Banyan or Bodhi tree milk until it is a uniform paste. Seal this in a jar overnight and massage it onto your freckles a half-hour before your morning shower.
Since Turmeric is bitter and anti- inflammatory, it is excellent for hot skin diseases, especially wet eczema.
Turmeric as First Aid
When it comes to first-aid, what ‘Rescue Remedy’ is to flower essences and ‘Arnica’ is to Homeopathy, Turmeric is to herbalism as it serves as First-Aid in accidents ranging from cuts to concussions.
For any trauma this rhizome is an herb of choice as it accelerates the healing of and minimizes the damage from any trauma.
Try in a tall glass of hot milk two spoons each of turmeric and Ghee. This takes care of everything.
Turmeric is a hemostatic, able to stop the bleeding of a wound, and a vulnerary, a great healer of wounds due to being both anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic.
If you cut your finger deeply, put some Turmeric in a small cup and press your bleeding finger into it.
After a few seconds the bleeding will stop.
Pain and Inflammation
Through Love all Pain becomes Medicine. (Rumi)
Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory herb and therefore is very good treatment for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries, trauma, and stiffness from both under activity and over activity.
If used before and after any surgery it will decrease the pain and inflammation and accelerate the healing and the return to balance.
Blood, Liver and Heart
A great alterative, Ayurveda uses Turmeric to purify and move the blood, for instance in the uterus during the menstrual cycle.
Curcumin is actually very similar to one of the active molecules in Chaparral, a great Native American blood purifier.
Turmeric also protects your liver from toxins and pathogens.
It is known to both destroy major hepatoxins, like aflatoxin, and to rebuild the liver after being attacked by hepatoxins.
Turmeric increases the secretion of bile, promotes bilification, and may prevent cholelithiasis.
If you drink more alcohol than your body can handle, you may want take a lot of Turmeric to help your liver overcome the consequences of your habit.
Traditionally about 5 grams of Turmeric is taken with a glass of whater, morning and evening, for a month to activate and rebuild a liver.
A good liver remedy could be based on Turmeric, Kutki root, and Milk Thistle seeds.
Turmeric helps to create new blood so it is good for anemia and other deficient conditions.
Turmeric supports the heart in many ways.
For instance, there are platelets that flow in the blood whose job it is to form blood clots when we are wounded.
The stress of being wounded causes the platelets to accumulate and stick together.
In these days we experience a lot of the same stress without being wounded and our platelets start sticking together increasing the chance of a heart attack or stroke.
Turmeric is known to inhibit this.
Turmeric also removes cholesterol from the liver and inhibits its assimilation, which means that it gives your heart double protection from cholesterol.
The Respiratory System
After beauty and blood purification, support of the respiratory system is one of the main traditional uses of Turmeric.
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.
If you feel that you are prone to an attack take 4-5 grams of Turmeric in ghee with a large glass of warm water.
Turmeric is a very good choice for bronchitis and other pulmonary infections, especially when taken with fresh garlic.
Fry a tablespoon of Turmeric in ghee with a little cumin and add a few cloves of minced garlic after taking it off the heat.
For stuffed up noses try gargling with warm Turmeric tea for a minute and then blow your nose. Repeat this four or five times.
With long pepper, Turmeric becomes a lung tonic.
The Awesome Anti-Oxidant
Oxidation by free radicals is linked with accelerated aging and virtually every major chronic disease including atherosclerosis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One way to stop this is with anti-oxidants like Vitamin C and E and Turmeric. A second way is with certain enzymes which engage the free radicals and destroy their ability to react.
Working double time, the curcuminoids as anti-oxidants are 8 times stronger than vitamin E and also increase the number and activity of free radical destroying enzymes, like superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase..
This means Turmeric is good at keeping you feeling and looking young; protecting you from mutating cells, tumors and cancer; preventing and removing oxidized cholesterol thereby preventing heart attacks; and reducing pain and acute (injuries) and chronic inflammations (arthritis).
Taken internally or used externally Turmeric is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and anthelmintic (anti-worm).
The essential oil, the water extract, and the extracted curcumins all show this activity.
It interferes with the ability of microbes and viruses to replicate themselves and it increases your Immune system’s ability to fight the infection.
It kills many bacteria in vivo and in vitro including staph and salmonella so it is great against staph infections and food poisoning. The fresh juice Turmeric is often used for many antibiotic applications such as wounds or whenever an antiseptic is needed.
As an antibiotic Turmeric has been compared with penicillin.
Turmeric protects you from parasites that can cause so many mental and physical problems, including poor digestion.
Turmeric .vs. Cancer
Turmeric is considered to be anti-cancer because it has a triple action: It neutralizes those substances and conditions which can cause cancer; It directly helps a cell retain its integrity if threatened by carcinogens;
If a tumor does grow the Curcumins can often destroy it.
Turmeric was recently nominated by the National Cancer Institute for study. Even if one was going the allopathic route to treat their cancer, they can still use Turmeric to increase the effectiveness and decrease some of the side effects of cancer treatments.
Ayurveda especially recommends Turmeric for cancers of the female reproductive system, namely breast and uterine cancer, and to treat benign tumors as well.
There are many reasons why Turmeric helps to destroy cancer and parasites.
One of the keys to this activity is the ability of the Curcumins to inhibit the Topoisomerase enzyme, which is required for the replication of cancer and parasite cells.
Topoisomerase site of action is 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.
The Spice of Life
“Let your food be your medicine.” (Hippocrates)
This Greek statement is a very basic principle in Ayurveda and likely came to Greece through Persian doctors.
Like no other food Turmeric exemplifies this principle.
To most people in India, from housewives to Himalyan hermits, Turmeric, affectionately called the ‘kitchen queen,’ is the main spice of the kitchen.
Turmeric adds a literal meaning to the phrase, ‘The Spice of Life’.
Curries are both a staple and delicacy of the Indian way of life for as long as there has been history, and Turmeric is usually the main spice in any curry.
One of the main dishes in India is Kitcheree, basically rice, mung beans, Turmeric, and ghee.
There are as many variations of Kitcheree as there are cooks in India so there is ample room for experimentation around this central theme.
Kitcheree is famous for both its cleansing and nourishing action on the entire body. Usually cleansing and nourishing are opposite therapies, but in the case of Kitcheree, and Triphala, both are possible at once, and hence it is one of the most recommended foods in Ayurveda.
Detox and Panchakarma
Turmeric detoxifies the bodymind and in this way helps the body cure itself. Turmeric is such a deep purifier that it, like Tulsi, can ostensibly purify at the chakra level.
Long term use of Turmeric, Tulsi and Triphala can be likened to a short term Panch Karma treatment.
Turmeric for your Stomach and Intestines
Turmeric treats the entire Gastro-Intestinal (GI) system.
It is traditionally used for weak stomachs, poor digestion, dyspepsia, to normalize metabolism, to help digest protein, and to increase the bio-availability of food and the ability of the stomach to withstand digestive acids.
Turmeric is a great carminative, able to calm an upset digestive system by getting rid of gas and distention.
Carminatives also tend to increase absorption and nurture the intestinal flora.
According to Ayurveda, plants that treat digestion are often the most important herbs of all since digestion is the basis of mental and physical health.
Turmeric is one of the best carminatives because though it leans towards being heating-pungent, it is very balanced and does not aggravate any of the doshas if taken in normal amounts, a few grams per day.
Just taking Turmeric in capsules will work fine to balance an upset digestion though one folk remedy is to take a small spoonful of Turmeric and stir it in a cup of yoghurt right after lunch.
As a vulnerary it helps to nurture and heal mucous membranes and has a strong protective effect against food and materials that are corrosive to the stomach and intestines.
Turmeric reduces the intensity of cysteamine-induced duodenal ulcers, increases the gastric wall mucus, and also normalizes gastric juices.
Turmeric with Flaxseed oil, ‘Alsi til’ in Hindi, can be used to treat hemorrhoids by both ingestion and topical application.
Female Reproductive System
Turmeric regulates menses, decreases intensity and pain of periods, decreases amenorrhea and decreases uterine tumors. Basically, it gets the uterus moving and back on a steady rhythm.
Turmeric is a mild and supportive uterine stimulant.
It will also help to normalize menstruation as it removes stagnant blood.
There are so many birthing tricks alive and well in India, and Turmeric plays an important role among them. It is great to take when you are pregnant in that the child will be benefited and traditionally it is said that then the child will always have beautiful skin.
However, since it is a mild uterine stimulant there is a chance of over stimulation, so it is very advisable for any pregnant woman who would like to use Turmeric to see a qualified practitioner first.
Generally, women with more Kapha in their constitutions will be able to take Turmeric more often than a woman who has Vata dominating.
Regardless of dosha, in the last two weeks of pregnancy all Mothers can take two to three grams per day, or four to six capsules, with warm organic milk.
This old remedy is reputed to not only simplify the birth while increasing the health of Mother and Child as well.
Being an excellent analgesic Turmeric decreases the pain of birth, sort of like an herbal epidural, except it has excellent side effects and does not move the Mother and Child onto the slippery slope of exponentially increasing allopathic intervention as epidural anesthesia tends to do.
Turmeric and Yoga
For many reasons Turmeric is also one of the best herbs/foods of Yoga: It is one of the most potent purifying herbs in Ayurveda, cleansing all the bodies including physical and subtle, from muscles to marmas; It is one of the safestherbs;
It increases flexibility; It reduces pain and inflammation from workouts which means it allows more opportunity to perfect asanas, stay in asanas longer and stay in asanas with greater ease, more sukha and sthira;
It increases Prana, the flow of Prana and purifies Prana.
Yoga scriptures like the Shiva Samhita recommends that a Yogi take some ghee and milk before asana and pranayama practice, and many traditional yogis add Turmeric to that.
Turmeric gently stimulates the digestive fire and makes the food easier to digest and absorb.
It also helps detoxify the food.
In addition it improves the quality of food, adding nutritive and blood building properties to the oils with which it combines, particularly ghee (clarified butter), with which it has an important affinity.
It is essential to Ayurvedic diets.
In addition Turmeric is a great woman's herb and is helpful for many gynecological problems.
It mildly promotes menstruation, relieves menstrual pain and cramping, is great for countering PMS, and helps build the blood.
It helps guard against or even remove cysts in the breast or uterus, and is a good guard against breast cancer.
In addition it helps beautify the skin and improve the complexion, promoting circulation and nutrition to the surface of the body.
It vitalizes the body's own natural healing energy through its action of strengthening digestion and circulation, and aiding in the regulation of all bodily systems.
For all these reasons Turmeric is likened to The Divine Mother, bestowing numerous blessings and helping us in all dangers, difficulties and conditions of weakness and debility.