Forty species of perennials belongs to this genus, found in seasonally dry tropical forests of Asia and Australia. Most have aromatic rhizomes or tubers that yield spices, starch, and dyes, and core-shaped inflorescences with often colorful bracts. Curcuma longa (turmeric) is a source of orange and yellow dyes for silk, cotton, and wool, and is a traditional coloring for the robes of Buddhist monks. The name comes from kurkum, the Arabic name for these plants. It is also one of the most common food flavorings and colorings in Asian cuisine. Many medicinal uses are recorded, especially in China, India, and Indonesia. Research has shown significant anti-inflammatory and liver- protective effects. Both C. longa and C. aromatica (wild turmeric) were described in Chinese medicine in the 7th century. The term yu jin is applied to C. aromatica on its own and to a mixture of C. aromatica, C. longa, and C. zedoaria (zedoary). Several other species are used for food and flavoring, including C. amada (mango ginger), which has edible young shoots and mango-scented rhizomes used in cooking, and candied or pickled in India.

A broad-leafed shrub grown in India and parts of Asia, turmeric has long been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine. Research has suggested that the curcumin in turmeric can combat bacteria, reduce inflammation, quell indigestion, guard against gallbladder disease, and possibly even inhibit HIV, treat Alzheimer's disease, and destroy certain cancer cells.

Perennial with a large rhizome, and pointed, oblong-elliptic leaves up to 50cm (20in) long. Yellow flowers, accompanied by pale green lower bracts and pink upper bracts, are borne in a dense inflorescence in summer.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Besar, Curcuma, Curcumin, Haridra, Indian Saffron, Kurkum, Nisha, Turmeric Root, Wild Turmeric.
Botanical Name:
Curcuma longa syn. C. domestica
Native Location:
Well-drained soil in sun or light shade, with high humidity.
By seed sown wehn ripe at 20°C (68°F), by division in early spring.
Leaves are cut as required and used fresh. Rhizomes are lifted during the dormant period and steamed or boiled before drying and grinding for use in decoctions, tinctures, pills, poultices, and powders.
1m (3ft)
Min. 13°C (55°F)
Turmeric is native to India where it is treasured as a flavoring and coloring in Indian cuisine, as a commercial orange dye (most famously used in Buddhist robes),and as a ceremonial herb. Known as curcuma—or jiang huang—in China, turmeric has been used medicinally for almost 2,000 years to relieve pain and to treat menstrual irregularities. It is one of the main ingredients ina well known Chinese patent formula, Jian Pi Tang, which is prescribed for carpal tunnel syndrome. Turmeric's genus name is derived from kurkum, the Middle Eastern name for the plant, and one of its principal chemical ingredients, curcumin, is believed to be an anticancer agent. Western herbal medicine has recently "discovered" many other therapeutic properties of turmeric, and it is now widely available in capsules and tablets.
Parts Used:
Rhizomes (jiang huang).
A pungent, bitter, astringent herb with a characteristic smell and deep yellow color. It stimulates the uterus, the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems, normalizes energy flow, lowers cholesterol levels; has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-coagulant effects.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for digestive and skin complaints, circulatory disorders, uterine tumors, jaundice, liver disease, and menstrual problems. Also as an anti-inflammatory for asthma and eczema, and to reduce risk of strokes and heart attacks. Often combined with Berberis vulgaris (See, barberry) or Mahonia aquifolium (See, Oregon grape) for liver complaints and diabetes. Externally for injuries, sores, athlete's foot, and ringworm.
To treat diarrhea, bronchitis, leprosy, headaches, loss of appetite, heartburn, colic, bruising, and wounds; to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of turmeric to treat loss of appetite and dyspeptic complaints, such as heartburn and bloating.
Turmeric has antibiotic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, blood-pressure lowering, blood-thinning, circulatory-stimulating, hormone-regulating, liver-regulating, and tonic properties. It also raises energy levels and helps the liver metabolize fats more efficiently. Turmeric is taken internally for arthritis, bloodclotting disorders, fatigue, fevers, gallbladder ailments, indigestion, liver disorders, low energy, menstrual irregularities, pain, poor circulation, and uterine tumors. It is applied externally, in powder or tincture form, for bruises, burns, minor skin irritations, and ringworm.
Turmeric is available as dried and powdered herb and in capsules, tablets, and tinctures. Turmeric powder is commonly taken in capsule or tablet form. Consult a qualified medical practitioner about the best way for you to take turmeric.
Typical Dose:
A typical daily dose of turmeric for dyspepsia is approximately 1.5 to 3 gm of the herb, taken in three divided doses.
Do not take turmeric medicinally if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, if you have gallstones, or if you have a blood-clotting disorder or are takihg anticoagulants. Do not give turmeric to young children. High doses of the herb may cause stomach irritation, and some studies (considered inconclusive to date) suggest that medicinal doses of turmeric have a contraceptive effect.
Possible Side Effects:
Turmeric's side effect include nausea and diarrhea.
Drug Interaction:
Taking turmeric with these drugs may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising:
Abciximab, (ReoPro)
Acemetacin, (Acemetacin Heumann, Acemetacin Sandoz)
Alteplase, (Activase, Cathflo Activase)
Antithrombin III, (Thrombate III)
Argatroban, (Argatroban)
Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
Aspirin and Dipyridamole, (Aggrenox)
Bivalirudin, (Angiomax)
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Choline Magnesium Trisalicylate, (Trilisate)
Choline Salicylate, (Teejel)
Clopidogrel, (Plavix)
Dalteparin, (Fragmin)
Danaparoid, (Orgaran)
Diclofenac, (Cataflam, Voltaren)
Diflunisal, (Apo-Diflunisal, Dolobid)
Dipyridamole, (Novo-Dipiradol, Persantine)
Dipyrone, (Analgina, Dinador)
Enoxaparin, (Lovenox)
Eptifibatide, (Integrillin)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)
Etoricoxib, (Arcoxia)
Fenoprofen, (Nalfon)
Flurbiprofen, (Ansaid, Ocufen)
Fondaparinux, (Arixtra)
Heparin, (Hepalean, Hep-Lock)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin)
Indobufen, (Ibustrin)—bleeding
Indomethacin, (Indocin, Novo-Methacin)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Lepirudin, (Refludan)
Magnesium Salicylate, (Doan's, Mobidin)
Meclofenamate, (Meclomen)
Mefanamic Acid, (Ponstan, Ponstel)
Meloxicam, (MOBIC, Mobicox)
Nabumetone, (Apo-Nabumetone, Relafen)
Nadroparin, (Fraxiparine)
Naproxen, (Aleve, Naproxen)
Niflumic Acid, (Niflam, Nifluril)
Nimesulide, (Areuma, Aulin)
Oxaprozin, (Apo-Oxaprozin, Daypro)
Piroxicam, (Feldene, NuPirox)
Reteplase, (Retavase)
Rofecoxib, (Vioxx)
Salsalate, (Amgesic, Salflex)
Streptokinase, (Streptase)
Sulindac, (Clinoril, NuSundac)
Tenecteplase, (TNKase)
Tenoxicam, (Dolmen, Mobiflex)
Tiaprofenic Acid, (DomTiaprofenic, Surgam)
Ticlopidine, (Alti-Ticlopidine, Ticlid)
Tinzaparin, (Innohep)
Tirofiban, (Aggrastat)
Tolmetin, (Tolectin)
Urokinase, (Abbokinase)
Valdecoxib, (Bextra)
Warfarin, (Coumadin, Jantoven)
Taking turmeric with these drugs may decrease the effectiveness of the drug:
Antithymocyte Globulin (Equine), (Atgam)
Antithymocyte Globulin (Rabbit), (Thymoglobulin)
Azathioprine, (Imuran)
Basiliximab, (Simulect)
Cyclosporine, (Neoral, Sandimmune)
Daclizumab, (Zenapax)
Efalizumab, (Raptiva)
Methotrexate, (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
Muromonab-CD3, (Orthoclone OKT 3)
Mycophenolate, (CellCept)
Pimecrolimus, (Elidel)
Sirolimus, (Rapamune)
Tacrolimus, (Prograf, Protopic)
Thalidomide, (Thalomid)
Disease Effects:
May cause gallbladder contractions.
Supplement Interactions:
Increased risk of bleeding when used with herbs and supplements that might affect platelet aggregation.
Culinary Uses:
An Essential ingredient of curries and curry powder.
Economic Uses:
Pigment curcumin is a natural food coloring; it cannot be substituted for saffron or annatto, because of its strong flavor, but is used in products such as piccallili. Also important as a natural dye for fabrics.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pp 186-187
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp. 454-455
The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke Copyright©2000 Yankee Publishing, Inc. pp. 99-100