Turmeric root

Curcuma longa


Turmeric, a ginger-like plant, has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to aid digestion, soothe fevers, treat jaundice and other liver-related illnesses, heal wounds and treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. Modern medicine confirms that turmeric contains compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Turmeric is also believed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Parts used

The root, or rhizome.


The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a powerful antioxidant.

Medicinal uses

The number of traditional uses of turmeric has caught the eye of modern medical researchers. For example, elderly people living in India, where turmeric is consumed in high quantities, suffer less from Alzheimer’s disease than their equivalent age group in the United States, where the spice is rarely used. Research suggests that turmeric is able to remove the build-up in the brain of amyloyd plaque, which is believed to put people at risk for developing the condition. Research into the link between curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease continues.
According to holistic health practitioner Dr Andrew Weil, turmeric reduces the carcinogenic compound that forms when meat is fried, grilled or boiled by up to 40%. Research continues.

Turmeric provides antioxidants for the maintenance of good health. It may also:

  • Help reduce the inflammatory reactions and pain caused by arthritis, headaches and cramping, as well as muscular pains such as fibromyalgia.
  • Improve liver function. (The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to help prevent your liver from being damaged by toxins.)
  • Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may ease gut inflammation, and so help digestion.
  • Help relieve obesity-induced glucose intolerance.
  • Reduce the risk of blood clots and prevent the build up of plaque in the arteries.
  • Support health in patients on multi-drug regimens for conditions such as HIV/AIDS.
  • Lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
  • Promote recovery from urinary tract and fungal infections.
  • Preliminary studies show that turmeric could be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of certain cancers.
  • Improve white blood cell count after radiation treatment.
  • Help heal minor wounds and burns, and treat psoriasis and other skin disorders (when applied topically).


Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
If consumed in moderate amounts, turmeric appears to have few side-effects. However, if you plan to use concentrated doses of curcumin, consult your medical practitioner beforehand to prevent any interference with medication or other components of your treatment. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also consult their healthcare practitioner before taking turmeric.

Domestic & culinary uses

Turmeric & other spices
Turmeric has a warm taste and is generally used to flavour and colour curries, mustard, cheese and, of course, fragrant yellow rice.


Turmeric is a tropical plant that does well when given abundant heat and moisture. It will grow well in any region that has a temperate summer, and will die in the winter. Plant in late spring.


Photo credits

  1. Photo by Ulrich Prokop (Scops 11:28, 11 February 2007 (UTC)) via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Photo by Dharmadhyaksha (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.