Multiple Uses of Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice widely used in India in cooking various curries. It has also been used since ancient times as a traditional medicine and also for beauty care. In the Ayurveda system of Indian medicine, it is an important herbal medicine prescribed for various ailments. It is very commonly used throughout India as an ingredient for traditional beauty care treatments. In fact, it is even used in modern times to plug radiator leaks in water-cooled radiators.
The Ayurveda is an ancient Sanskrit text of Indian medicine which describes the use of various herbs and also other remedies of traditional medicine like incantations and amulets for a whole range of ailments and also beauty care. Turmeric is considered as an important part of the range of herbal medicines described in this text. Turmeric is used in Ayurveda in two ways- freshly extracted turmeric juice, which is taken orally, and turmeric paste used for skin application.
Raw turmeric is actually a rhizome of curcuma longa similar to ginger in appearance. This raw vegetable is crushed and the strained extracted juice forms a translucent reddish- yellow liquid which is more or less tasteless. These juice is then to be taken either raw or if the person wishes, mixed with honey preferably early in the morning on empty stomach. A wide range of benefit is described for this treatment in the Ayurveda.
The main use of turmeric juice taken regularly is as a blood purifier. In this context, it is believed to enhance health of the whole body. It is also said to be most beneficial in chronic illnesses with generalized weakness and in diseases like renal failure where toxins are released into the body. The other use of turmeric juice is in stomach ailments. It is said to have a soothing effect on the stomach and thus helps in diseases like hyper acidity and indigestion. Taken regularly, it gives a healthy glow to the skin also.
The other use of turmeric as a herbal medicine is in beauty care, where its juice is applied to the skin as a raw paste, kept for around thirty minutes and then washed off. It has been used as an herbal cosmetic in India since ancient times and is still in use even today throughout the country. It is an essential ingredient of the traditional bathing ritual of Indian marriages where it is applied along with sandal wood paste before the bath.
Regular turmeric use is said to make the skin soft and smooth. It also gives a glow to the skin and produces a fairer complexion. Turmeric is also prescribed in Indian medicine for various skin ailments where application of the paste regularly is advocated. It is used for spots of pigmentation or blotches that may appear on the skin, and also for diseases like eczema. Turmeric is also used in traditional medicine for cuts and burns as it is believed to have an antiseptic effect and also promote healing.
Besides these uses as an herbal medicine, the Ayurveda also gives some other uses of turmeric. It is said to be poisonous for crocodiles, and anyone swimming in crocodile infested waters should apply turmeric paste to protect himself! It is also believed to ward off snakes and the presence of turmeric plants around the house act as a barrier for them. The paste is also used in Indian medicine for snakebites. Its use is also advocated in various rites and spells to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
Turmeric has also received a lot of attention in modern times from science, and its active ingredient, curcumin, has been isolated. Curcumin has been shown to have an anti-oxidant property, and is used in alternative medicine for this. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing histamine levels.
It has also been shown to have a protective effect on the liver and also in atherosclerosis. These effects are still under examination through various trials, but turmeric has already become an important remedy in alternative medicine.
Turmeric today continues to be used very widely throughout India as an alternative medicine, and also in herbal beauty care. A modern use discovered more recently is in plugging radiator leaks! In the water cooled type of radiators, a spoonful of turmeric added to the water plugs the leak almost magically.