Most people know turmeric as the most important ingredient in curry powder. It originally comes from southern Asia, and has a long history of use in Ayurveda as well as traditional Chinese medicine. Turmeric is widely used for digestive and liver disorders. What is more, modern research also suggests that it has very effective antioxidant properties and can decrease cholesterol levels.
Parts used: Rhizome.
Main constituents: Volatile oil, curcumin (yellow pigment), vitamins, minerals, resin, bitter principle.
Effect: Antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antitumor activity, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, detoxifier, hypolipidemic.
HOW TO USE
Decoction: Drink 1 cup (1 teaspoon herb per cup boiling water) up to 3 times daily for digestive problems such as excessive stomach acid, nausea, indigestion, gastritis, and liver or gall bladder disorders. You can also combine it with remedies for arthritis such as angelica or devil’s claw and drink it up to 3 times a day.
Tincture: Drink 40–80 drops (2–4ml) in a little water 3 times a day to help decrease blood cholesterol levels, or drink 1 teaspoon (5ml) up to 3 times a day for period pain.
Powder: Consume 1⁄2–1 level teaspoon (1–2g) stirred into a cup of water, fruit juice, or milk for arthritic problems or eczema.
Ointment: Apply 2–3 times a day for athlete’s foot, psoriasis, or ringworm.
HOW TO GET
Grow: Turmeric likes fertile, moist soil with high humidity and partial shade. It only grows in regions with warm climate (minimum temperature 59–64°F/ 15–18°C), but it’s possible to cultivate it under glass elsewhere. Sow seeds at 70°F (21°C) in autumn. You can also propagate it by root division while the plant is dormant in winter or by root cuttings in autumn.
Forage: There’s very little chance to be found growing wild outside dry forest areas in India and some other parts of southern Asia.
Harvest: Dig the rhizome in autumn, and boil and steam before drying.
Caution: It occasionally causes skin rashes or increases photosensitivity. Don’t take therapeutic doses in pregnancy, but culinary quantities are safe. Consult a doctor if you suffer from gallstones.