Turmeric is the rhizome or underground stem of ginger like plant. The plant is an herbaceous perennial, 60-90 cm high with a short stem tufted leaf.
By Safina Rani, Athar Mahmood
Turmeric is the rhizome or undrground stem of ginger like plant. The plant is an herbaceous perennial, 60-90 cm high with a short stem tufted leaf. Its flowers are yellow, between 10-15 cm in length and they group together in dense spikes, which appear from the end of spring until the middle session. No fruits are known for this plant. Curcumin is the active constituent of turmeric. Other curcuminoids observed in turmeric include desmethoxycurcumin and bis-dimethoxy curcumin. Turmeric held a place of honour in Indian traditional ayurvedic medicine. In ayurvedic it was prescribed for the treatment of many medical problems ranging from constipation to skin diseases. It was used as digestive aid and treatment for fever, inflammation, wounds, infections, dysentery, arthritis, injuries, trauma, jaundice and other liver problems. In Unani turmeric is considered to be safest herb of choice for all blood disorders since it purifies, stimulates and builds blood. To most people in India, from housewives to Himalayan hermits, turmeric affectionately called the ‘KITCHEN QUEEN’, the main spice of kitchen. Long term use in turmeric, tulsi and trifala can be likened to a short term Pancha Karma treatment. Turmeric is relatively broad spectrum antifungal. Turmeric exhibits antioxidant activity and protect from free radical damage. Curcumas also exhibits anti-tumor activities and prevent cancer. It inhibits the topoisomerase enzyme, which is required for cancer.
Cultivation of turmeric:
Turmeric can be cultivated in diverse tropical conditions, to up to 1,600 meters from the sea level, with temperatures varying from 20-40 ºC, and rainfall above 1500 mm. It is a nine-month crop sown in July and harvested in April. Turmeric thrives in well-drained, fertile, sandy and black, red or alluvial loams, rich in humus and uniform in texture. Rich loamy soils having natural drainage and irrigation facilities are the best. Turmeric cannot stand water stagnation or alkalinity.
Turmeric: curcumin and our health:
Turmeric exhibits a wide range of biological activities and it is used in traditional medicines. Medicinal properties of turmeric and its constituents play an important role in our life. Which are given below:
1. Turmeric has been found to have a hepatoprotective characteristic similar to that of silymarin
2. The volatile oils and curcumin and turmeric exhibit potent anti-inflammatory effects..
3. Turmeric extract and the essential oil inhibit the growth of a variety of bacteria, parasites and pathogenic fungi.
4. Turmeric’s protective effects on the cardiovascular system include lower cholesterol and triglyceride level.
5. Constituents of turmeric exert several protective effects on the gastrointestinal tract.
6. Turmeric oil exhibited potent anti-trypsin and anti-hyaluronidase activity.
7. Constituents of turmeric affect Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Extract of turmeric suppresses symptoms associated with arthritis.
9. Turmeric and its extract inhibit angiogenesis.
10. Turmeric constituents can induce radioprotection.
11. Turmeric constituents inhibit proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cell.
12. Turmeric lower serum cholesterol levels.
13. Constituents of turmeric block the replication of HIV.
14. Turmeric constituents stimulate muscle regeneration.
15. Turmeric enhances wound healing.
16. Turmeric extract reduces the incidence of cholesterol gall bladder stone formation.
17. Turmeric constituents protects against cataract formation in lenses.
18. Turmeric protects against pancreatitis.
19. Turmeric extract corrects cystic fibrosis defects.
20. Turmeric suppresses the induction of adhesion molecules.
21. Turmeric constituents inhibit androgen receptor and androgen receptor (AR)-related cofactor.
22. Turmeric constituents inhibit scarring.
23. Turmeric volatile oils suppress acute edema
How to use turmeric:
1. Turmeric can be used externally in poultices to smooth skin and reduce inflammation. It is often used in lotions or preparations for skin with eczema or psoriasis.
2. When incorporated into the diet it can be helpful for reducing inflammation in those with arthritis.
3. Turmeric can be made into a paste with water or honey to make a skin scrub that cools inflammation and helps stop acne.
4. Externally, a paste of turmeric and aloe vera gel can ease pain and itching from burns, bites,
chicken pox, poison ivy or eczema.5. In a soothing Turmeric Tea to sooth during illness or improve sleep.6. It is wonderful to add to grilled foods, vegetables, mashed cauliflower, sauces and spice blends. Turmeric’s high antioxidant content benefits the skin which makes it a constituent of some natural sunscreens and bronzers. A paste of Turmeric and strong brewed black tea will temporarily darken the skin and there is some evidence that it might also provide some sun protection.
7. Turmeric is said to be great for the skin and can be used in facial washes and scrubs to smooth skin and even out skin tone. Turmeric can cause hair to become less thick so it is often used my Indian women on unwanted facial hair but should be avoided on the head or by men on their faces.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
Turmeric is an important plant with diverse uses. The benefits of the crop are enormous with little or no none side effects. Tumeric production should thus be encouraged by sensitizing farmers properly on the potentials of turmeric especially in the southern part of Nigeria where the Research institute that has the mandate to research into the crop is located. There is also need to develop improved varieties of the turmeric to boost production. Farmers should be provided with inputs like fertilizers and other agro-chemicals at subsidized rates in order to increase their production. There is also need to provide market information like price of turmeric products to the farmers
Authors : Safina Rani, Athar Mahmood University of Agriculture Faisalabad