Turmeric, curcuma longa, also known as the ‘the Golden Goddess’ in India, has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions as a medicinal herb as well as an essential ingredient in every curry.
Pigments known as curcuminoids give this radiant root its characteristic vibrant yellow colour and the volatile oils its earthy smell. The yellow pigments, essential oils and constituents known as tumerones, are responsible for the main therapeutic properties of this renowned anti-inflammatory.
The combination of these constituents working together support a diverse range of activity. They work within the body as antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatories whilst also enhancing circulation, protecting the brain, rejuvenating the liver and targeting pain. In traditional herbal medicine turmeric is good for maintaining healthy blood: cleansing it for healthy skin, moving it for better circulation and nourishing it to feed the menses, breast milk and bones.
Its time-honoured position has made turmeric the go-to herb for addressing the underlying causes of so many of today’s degenerative diseases.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family (zingiberaceae) and shares many similarities to both ginger and galangal, demonstrable by the shape of their bulbous rhizomes (roots). The turmeric plant grows up to about one metre in height with large oblong-shaped leaves and stunning white/green flowers. A single turmeric plant can produce over 700g of its distinctive yellow rhizomes in nine months and creates more than 230 protective phytochemicals including 2-5% of curcuminoids and 5% of volatile oils including the potent tumerones.
A Little Bit Of Chemistry
Turmeric contains over 230 compounds which display biological activity. Curcuminoids are key medicinal constituents which reduce inflammation caused by arachidonic acid and pro-inflammatory enzymes such as cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). They are potent antioxidants, protecting cellular DNA from free radical damage. But turmeric is a lot more than curcumin. It also contains a family of constituents known as turmerones which are of particular significance in assisting the body’s natural uptake of curcumin. Tumerones have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, pain relieving and anti-depressant properties.
Curcumin & Turmeric: What’s The Difference?
Curcumin is not a plant in its own right, it is one of the protective components found within turmeric root. That’s why it works best when it is in synergistic balance with the rest of this plants natural constituents and essential oils.