The poor man’s saffron!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Mar 2018 11:31:13


By Anthony Kuriakose

There is no herb that can be used for various uses- ranging from beauty aids to cancer - like Turmeric. In 2015 The international price of turmeric was 120 rupees a kilo and the price of one kilo of saffron was nearly 4000 times at 458000 rupees a kilo. But the medical profession/ the beauticians lobby/the health fad firms all agree that the turmeric sorts out many more human problems than the saffron. Group studies by the above specialists show that use of turmeric . 1.Brighten your pearly whites Although turmeric is known for its staining prowess, it is commonly (if not counter-intuitively) used to whiten teeth.2. Customize foundation by adding turmeric to tinted moisturizer to achieve a perfect glow that matches your skin tone. And in fact, women in India often use turmeric in face creams and body scrubs to boost the glow factor; sprinkle in a bit at a time until you have the proper tone.3. Spice up your soap adding several teaspoons of turmeric to it will not only dial up its color, but will boost its skin-friendly benefits as well.4. Save your scalp To deter dandruff and to improve the overall condition of the scalp. Make a mix of turmeric and the oil of your choice (til or coconut oil would be nice), massage into your scalp and leave on for 15 minutes, then shampoo and style as usual.5. Embellish temporary tattoos the temporary tattoos made with henna, or to add a pretty second color to an extant henna tattoo.

6. Diminish sprain strain A traditional homeopathic sprain treatment involves making a paste using one part salt and two parts turmeric and enough water to make it spreadable 7. Soothe a sick stomach Turmeric has long used to quell bellies that aren’t behaving properly.8. Ease achy arthritis10. Love your liver The curcumin in turmeric may delay liver damage that can eventually lead to cirrhosis.9. Inhibit skin cancer Turmeric seems to hold much promise for skin treatments, as well as possibly inhibiting certain forms of cancer 10. Battle other forms of cancer 11. Minimize Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Even though Arab traders introduced this herbaceous perennial, a native of India and Indonesia, to Europe in the 13th century, it has become very popular in western culture only recently. This is because nutritionists and people in general have wised up to the remarkable properties of the root of  turmeric Latin name Curcuma longa, also known as Indian saffron for its bright yellow colour. The bright colour of turmeric comes from the pigment curcumin, which is in fact one of its most important elements as it is endowed with strong healing properties. According to some studies it is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, having similar effects as hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone but minus the toxicity of these drugs. Isn’t it amazing? Yes…It was only by the 1990’s the Western world realized the benefits of turmeric. In the Western world, researchers have long suspected curcuma longa of the turmeric to be more than just a sunburst-yellow spice that doubles as a home remedy. But only in recent years have they become sufficiently intrigued to look beyond folklore and subject turmeric to the rigors of 21st-century science. But what is more amazing is that for centuries, maybe millennia, the knowledge of haldi’s remarkable healing potency has been preciously handed down the millenniums courtesy India’s great grandmothers and grandmothers who used it in various forms as a panacea for a variety of ailments.And now if we turn to the nutritional and culinary aspects of this ingredient, we see that it is an excellent source of iron and manganese while also being rich in vitamin B6, potassium and dietary fibres. Regarding its culinary uses, it is an important ingredient of various Indian curry powders. When combined with coriander and cumin it helps in digesting complex carbohydrates, making curries both digestible and flavourful. Given its unique characteristics, people now use turmeric in unusual ways to increase their consumption of it and thus we have breads or cakes with a dash of turmeric in them,

In the 1990s, researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, investigated curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties to see if the compound could stop a tumor in its tracks. “We grabbed a pinch of turmeric from the kitchen and tossed it on some cancer cells,” says Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D. “The effect was staggering.” It blocked a biological pathway needed for the development of melanoma and other cancers—including prostate tumors. So impressed was Aggarwal that he coined the nickname “cure-cumin.”
In 2007, Chinese scientists reported that curcumin could also play a key role in prostate-cancer treatment by dampening hormones implicated in the startup of the disease. That same year, University of Alabama researchers discovered that combining curcumin with traditional radiation therapy destroyed prostate-cancer cells that had previously become radiation resistant. And in yet another study, researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit found that curcumin could weaken malignant prostate cells in a way that turned otherwise ineffective immunotherapeutic agents into potent tumor killers. 
According to the World Alzheimer’s Report 2009, 3.6 per cent of South Asians over the age of 60 suffer from dementia, compared with 6.4 per cent of Australasians and 7.2 per cent of Western Europeans. Similarly, the World Health Organization says that cancer rates in India are considerably lower than those in more developed countries such as the US.But is it turmeric that’s having this effect? Cancer researcher Ralph W. Moss believes so. He says turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, it inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in tumours and it’s a powerful antioxidant.
In the case of turmeric, two doctors from the University of Mississippi medical center applied for—and won—a 1997 U.S. patent to market the spice as a wound healer. But when India’s Council of Scientific & Industrial Research found it out, it was outraged, charging biopiracy and claiming that it was impossible to patent healing properties that had been known in India for thousands of years. The U.S. Patent Office agreed with the argument and reversed its ruling, effectively killing any chance that turmeric would jump from the spice rack to the medicine cabinet. Companies could still sell turmeric and curcumin, but they couldn’t patent either one.The decision, however, left a legal loophole. What if a company—say, a small biotech firm—were to create a synthetic version of turmeric, a substance it could claim was even more potent than the spice itself? And what if instead of turmeric or curcumin, it gave this clone a brand name that it made up? Enter Curry Pharmaceuticals and a San Diego firm, AndroScience. These companies and others are indeed vying to develop their own curcumin-like blockbuster, with the potential for billions of dollars in sales to the winner.

But the use of turmeric  in the east, especially India dates back nearly 4000 years to the Vedic culture. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has been used to treat a variety of internal disorders, such as indigestion, throat infections, common colds, or liver ailments, as well as topically to cleanse wounds or treat skin sores. Turmeric is considered auspicious and holy in India and has been used in various Hindu ceremonies for millennia. It remains popular in India for wedding and religious ceremonies.

Turmeric has played an important role in Hindu spiritualism. The robes of the Hindu monks were traditionally colored with a yellow dye made of turmeric. Because of its yellow-orange coloring, turmeric was associated with the sun. Yellow is the color of the solar plexus chakra which in traditional Tamil Siddha medicine is an energy center. Orange is the color of the sacral chakra.
Most Indian recipes will always have a common ingredient i.e a pinch of turmeric. In India, turmeric is considered as a healer’s spice. It is also considered auspicious in Indian households. In many parts of India, when wedding invitations are sent, people mark these invitation cards with a pinch of turmeric mark on one side as a sign of happiness and good fortune. Conversely,in states like Odisha when a family goes into mourning after the death of a loved one, they eat food without turmeric for 10 days. The food without turmeric during these times symbolises loss and grief. There is hardly any dish — vegetarian or non-vegetarian in which Indians don’t put a little bit of turmeric. Turmeric is part of pickles and chutneys as the yellow colour adds a nice tinge and taste as well. A simple lentil dish with a pinch of turmeric and green chilly tastes delicious. Similarly, while making khichdi, one adds turmeric to give that wonderful yellow colour. The turmeric plant which is called ‘haldi’ is grown in many parts of India and fresh turmeric looks a little like small pieces of ginger.

India produced nearly three and half lakh tonnes of turmeric in 2015 and is today the largest exporter of turmeric to countries like the Middle East, the UK, USA and Japan. Some of the well-accepted varieties are : ‘Alleppey Finger’ (from Kerala), ‘Madras Finger’, and ‘Erode turmeric’ (from Tamil Nadu), Rajapore’ and ‘Sangli turmeric’ (from Maharashtra) and ‘Nizamabad Bulb’ (from Andhra Pradesh). India also exports turmeric in powder form and as oleoresins.(Maharaja Features )