Turmeric is what gives curry mixtures their yellow colour and sharp flavour, which is effective both in the kitchen and in alleviating various ailments. Its ability to completely revitalise and strengthen the digestive tract has seen turmeric jump ahead to third place on the list of the most researched medicinal plants in scientific circles.
Turmeric is related to ginger, but its flesh is dark yellow – something which is clearly visible even when it is dried.
Turmeric was first used in Asia. According to Ayurvedic tradition, the medicinal plant is used to completely purify the gastrointestinal tract. It is a universal remedy, because a well-functioning digestive tract forms the basis for good health. This finding also made its way into European herbal books (Tabernaemontanus, 1613; Loeber, 1748;) which recommend turmeric in case of poor health. Today, the broad effects of turmeric are the subject of numerous scientific articles all over the world and have a similar market potential where gastrointestinal complaints are concerned to St. John's wort for depression and ginkgo for dementia.
Universal remedy for digestive problems
Turmeric facilitates the production of bile and its excretion via the gall bladder into the small intestine, where it is responsible for digesting fat. This “cholagogic” effect facilitates bowel movements and is effective against constipation. Furthermore, inflammation of the intestinal mucosa is alleviated and blood lipid levels are lowered. Turmeric also has an immunomodulating effect and purifies the digestive tract of worms, bacteria and viruses.
Through the antioxidant effect, the plant also protects the hepatocytes from toxic effects, allowing the liver to fully perform its function as a detoxifying organ. Turmeric is not suitable for use in a purely watery tea, because the plant’s active ingredients are lipophilic and therefore not water-soluble.
Like small banana plants
Turmeric grows to a height of about one metre and is reminiscent of a small banana plant. It has leaves like a lily and a curled stem. The flowers are shaped like roof tiles and bright red. Medical science has identified two types of turmeric which have equal therapeutic effects: Curcuma longa, known as turmeric, and Curcuma xanthorrhiza, known as Javanese turmeric. When eaten raw, Curcuma longa tastes bitter and produces a burning sensation in the mouth, whereas xanthorrhiza is only slightly bitter. After being harvested, longa is blanched in hot water to prevent it from sprouting, whereas xanthorrhiza does not need this treatment. Therefore, longa is evenly yellow in cross section, whereas xanthorrhiza has orange-coloured rings.