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Turmeric - where does it come from and what is it used for?


Curcuma (called "Haridra" in Sanskrit, "turmeric" in Germany) with the botanical name "Curcuma longa" belongs to the plant family of the ginger family and has been found in India and Southeast Asia for over 5000 years. Turmeric is one of the most important spices in TCM and Ayurveda and is the most common ingredient in Indian cuisine. It is recognized as a food additive with the number E 100 and gives many foods their color (margarine, jam, mustard, curry powder, etc.). Turmeric is hot and bitter and is considered a warming spice in Ayurvedic teachings. Its root is used in cooking and naturopathy. It is not only visually very similar to ginger and is therefore also referred to as "yellow ginger". However, the turmeric root is a little smaller and thinner than ginger, but not pale, but bright yellow. Both roots can be used both fresh and powdered.

In medicine, turmeric is further differentiated: Curcuma longa, which comes from India, and Curcuma xanthorrhiza, the Javanese turmeric. There is a monograph by the so-called "Commission E" for both types of turmeric; this is the licensing agency that examines medicinal plants.

One teaspoon of turmeric contains the following vitamins and minerals in mg as follows (only those minerals and vitamins are mentioned that are contained in a proportion of >= 1.0 mg):

  • Potassium: 1260
  • Magnesium: 208
  • Phosphorus: 172
  • Calcium: 120
  • Vitamin E: 62
  • Selenium: 60
  • choline: 44
  • manganese: 36.4
  • Vitamin A: 32
  • folic acid: 17
  • Niacin: 9.12
  • Vitamin C: 1.1
  • Vitamin K: 1.0

Benefit and mode of action

In Ayurveda, turmeric has a balancing effect on all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha): The heating effect balances Vata and Kapha, and the bitter taste balances Pitta. Turmeric has been recommended in Ayurveda for some time as a diuretic, stomach and liver strengthening agent.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, turmeric is used to regulate the energy flow of Qi, dissolve stagnant blood and eliminate menstrual pain.

But turmeric has also always played an important role in western herbal medicine. This is how the pharmacist Pahlow writes in "The Big Book of Medicinal Plants", page 394 - 395:

"The yellow dye, i.e. curcumin, promotes the emptying of the gallbladder. The essential oil is said to increase bile production in the liver. Consequently, turmeric can be used successfully for stomach and intestinal complaints that are caused by reduced bile excretion. The BGA (Federal Health Office) certifies that the turmeric root has an anti-inflammatory, cholagogue and bile formation in the liver promoting effect."

Scientifically proven, turmeric has an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effect and promotes the production and release of bile. Both of the above types of turmeric are therefore approved by Commission E for the treatment of digestive disorders. Turmeric is therefore particularly suitable as a dietary supplement for elderly people whose digestive power and appetite are decreasing.

The active ingredients in turmeric are primarily curcumin, xanthohriziol, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Turmeric and its active components, i.e. especially the curcuminoids and the water-soluble peptides, were able to effectively inhibit free radicals both in vitro (inside the test tube) and in vivo (in the body). The properties of curcuminoids in preventing the build-up of tissue that injures free radicals (especiallythe lipid peroxides responsible for cardiovascular diseases) are among the more well-known antioxidant properties

According to the available studies, the antioxidant mechanisms of curcuminoids could include one or more of the following interactions:

  • Intervening in oxidative attacks to limit or prevent their occurrence - e.g. inhibiting oxidative enzymes such as cytochrome P-450
  • Scavenging or neutralizing free radicals, e.g. superoxide and peroxide radicals
  • Breaking of the oxidative chains formed by free radicals

Curcuminoids are classified into three groups: curcumin I, II and III, with curcumin I being the most common in turmeric. All three curcuminoid groups are biologically active and also have antioxidant effects independently of each other. The antioxidant effect of curcuminoids against free radicals is, for example, 5 times stronger than that of vitamin E.

The hypothesis of many studies that curcumin might also have tumour-inhibiting properties is based on the empirical finding that certain types of cancer are less common in India than elsewhere, where significantly less turmeric is consumed. In addition, the first laboratory and animal experiments are promising, but cannot be transferred 1:1 to humans. Further clinical studies are pending here:

In addition, a certain effect of curcumin for preventing Alzheimer's and neurodegenerative processes in general is suspected by inhibiting the formation of amyloid beta bloomers in rodents. However, further studies are needed here.

What should you consider when buying turmeric?

Curcuma products should have a high proportion of curcuminoids as the central active ingredient of turmeric by using turmeric extract in addition to the powder. You should also pay attention to a high bioavailability, otherwise the turmeric will not get anywhere in the body and will be completely excreted. This bioavailability is achieved by adding piperine from black pepper. With these tips you will find a high quality product.

Legal consumer information

German and European case law wants to protect consumers from supposedly misleading claims. The statements made here refer to the original Ayurvedic and TCM texts. This knowledge, which has been handed down for thousands of years, is based on experiences that are passed on from generation to generation. It should not be claimed that the products described here have any effect in the sense of western medicine. All products are dietary supplements; they are not medicines and have no medicinal effect. If you are ill and need medical care, please contact your doctor or pharmacist


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