A Brief History of Turmeric.
The exact origin of turmeric is not known but it is believed to be native to Southern India and Indonesia.
- Turmeric has been used for thousands of years and has become an integral part of food and traditional medicine.
- Turmeric has a special place in Indian tradition and is used in the worship the Sun God Surya and is worn by people as a part of the purification process.
- Turmeric is used a beauty aid, food spice, toothpaste and medicine.
- Turmeric has an important place in the ancient Indian medical science of Ayurveda.
- Turmeric has been used by Buddhists monks who would travel to various parts of the world to dye their robes.
- Turmeric was used as a part of Chinese medicine around 1,000 years ago.
- Although turmeric was mentioned by Marco Polo around 1280 it has only entered Western consciousness very recently.
While turmeric has always been an important part of Ayurvedic system, western herbalists did not begin to recognise its benefits till the late 20th century. By the mid 20th century, turmeric started gaining popularity in the western world. Today there are numerous research studies and experiments done to identify its benefits. Many people now enjoy turmeric daily in coffee or chai.
- Turmeric is one of the species of genus Curcuma and botanically called Curcuma longa Linn.
- The genus comprises of “stemless” herbs with tuberous root stocks. These tubes are long and stalk-like.
- Out of total thirty-five species present, turmeric or halad (Curcuma longa ) is the most famous member of genus Curcuma.
- The species is native to tropical regions of South East Asia. The presence of genus Curcuma species varies from region to region, for example, in India on can find up to six of them.
- While turmeric is most popular many other species of genus Curcuma are also known for their health benefits.
Botanical Description of Turmeric
- Turmeric is a tall annual herb of South East Asia. It needs lots of rainfall and temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees to grow.
- The herb develops a large ovoid rootstock that bears stalkless cylindrical tubers with distinct orange colour from inside.
- Turmeric leaves are also large (close to 2 feet!), its blade is slippery, oblong and lance like as it tapers along the base. In fact, The turmeric plant is identifiable by both its characteristic tuberous root and the leaves that extend upward from erect, thick stems arising from the root.
- The parts of turmeric plants which are used are – rhizomes and tubers. Rhizomes can be considered as underground stems, these have roots below them and leaves growing above.
- The interior of the turmeric root is hard, orange-yellow in colour. When eaten it colours our saliva yellow and has a warm sensation.