Turmeric, commonly known as ‘haldi’ in India, is a spice derived from the roots of the curcuma longa plant. Being native to South Asia, this spice has been used in Indian cuisines from centuries. The turmeric plant is a rhizomatous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family. The rhizomes are boiled, dried and ground to make turmeric powder. This powder is deep orange-yellow in colour and has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter and slightly peppery taste and a mustardy smell due to the presence of a substance called curcumin. It is most commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian cuisines. Apart from consumption, it is used for dyeing and imparting colour to mustard condiments.
This spice has formed a part of Indian culture and tradition since times immemorial and is considered as an herbal remedy due to its anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties. It is often used in the rituals particularly the ‘haldi’ ceremony of Indian weddings where a paste of turmeric is applied to the bride and groom’s body as part of marriage preparations. Being a natural cosmetic, it is used to beautify their skin. Curcumin, on the other hand can treat an array of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, allergies, arthritis and other chronic illnesses. Being the most widely used spice, it is often referred to as the ‘Indian saffron’.
Benefits Of Turmeric
Turmeric For Skin:
Turmeric has been used as a beauty product for centuries. It is an inexpensive and natural way of treating several skin problems and getting a flawless skin. It comes with a range of benefits for skin.
1. Treatment of Acne:
Turmeric is effective in the treatment of acne due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties which fight pimples and breakouts to provide a youthful glow to your skin. Turmeric face mask not only helps to clear acne scars and inflammation but also reduces oil secretion by sebaceous glands. You can prepare a face pack by mixing turmeric powder and sandalwood powder and adding lemon juice to the mixture. Apply it on your face for 10 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water. For acne scars, apply a mixture of turmeric and plain water on the marks for 15 minutes.
2. Facial Mask for Oily Skin:
Turmeric is beneficial for oily skin as it regulates the production of sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Sandalwood acts as an astringent and orange juice being a source of vitamin C, helps to clear the blemishes. For oily skin, make a paste by mixing 1 ½ tablespoons of sandalwood powder and a pinch of ground turmeric with 3 tablespoons of orange juice and apply it on your face. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water.
3. Facial Mask for Dry Skin:
If you have dry skin, you can make a face mask by combining 1 egg white, 2 drops of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and rose water and a pinch of turmeric. This can be applied to all dry areas such as face, neck, elbows and knees. Allow it to dry completely and then wash off with warm water.
4. Treatment of Wrinkles:
Turmeric in combination with other ingredients is effective in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. You can prepare a face pack by mixing turmeric powder and rice powder with raw milk and tomato juice and apply it on your face and neck for 30 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water. This will reduce wrinkles as well as brighten your skin. If you have dark circles, you can add a pinch of turmeric to 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and apply it around your eyes for 20 minutes. Rinse off with cool water. This is effective in eliminating wrinkles as well as dark circles.
5. Signs of Aging:
Being an excellent exfoliating agent, turmeric can help eliminate signs of aging. You can make a paste by mixing besan (gram flour) and turmeric powder in equal proportions with water. This paste can also be prepared in raw milk or even yoghurt. Apply it evenly on your body and allow it to dry. Rinse off with lukewarm water and scrub your face gently in circular motion.
6. Treatment of Stretch Marks:
Turmeric can help lighten stretch marks. For this purpose, apply a mixture of besan (gram flour) and turmeric with yoghurt/raw milk/ water on the stretch marks.
7. Soothes Burns:
Turmeric can provide quick relief in case of burns, thanks to its antiseptic properties. You can apply a mixture of turmeric and aloe vera gel on the burn and experience the wound heal in no time.
8. Reduction of Skin Pigmentation and Skin Tanning:
To remove skin tanning and pigmentation, apply a mixture of turmeric powder and lemon or cucumber juice on the affected area for 20-30 minutes and wash off with plain water. This should be done regularly for beneficial results.
9. Removal of Facial Hair:
You can make a facial scrub by mixing kasturi turmeric with chickpea (gram flour). Applying this on your face can inhibit facial hair growth. This paste should be applied consistently for about a month to get effective results.
10. Treatment of Cracked Heels:
Turmeric is an excellent healing agent. If you have cracked heels, you can apply a mixture of 3 spoons of turmeric with a few drops of coconut or castor oil on your heels for 10 to 15 minutes before taking a bath. Doing this regularly will soften your heels.
11. Night Cream:
You can apply a paste made from turmeric and milk or yoghurt on your face. Leave the mask overnight and rinse it off the next morning using a light cleanser. Alternatively, you can add a pinch of turmeric to your moisturizer and cleanse the next morning. This should be done twice a week to get beautiful, healthy and younger looking skin.
12. Treatment of Skin Conditions:
Being a natural antiseptic, turmeric with milk is effective in treating skin conditions like poison ivy, eczema and psoriasis. Eczema is quite itchy and painful disease characterized by red scaly patches on skin. Topical application of a mixture of kasturi turmeric with milk can soothe the skin and reduce redness and inflammation.
13. Removes Dead Cells:
Make a paste by mixing gram flour and turmeric with water and apply it on your body. Scrub gently while taking a bath. Doing this regularly can rid you of dead cells to give you a glowing and spotless skin. Applying a mixture of turmeric and milk on your face and lips can cleanse your face as well as act as a healing agent on your lips to treat dry and chapped lips.
[Read:Benefits Of Turmeric Milk]
Turmeric For Hair
Not just the skin, turmeric can be beneficial for your hair in a number of ways. Use of turmeric with other ingredients can promote hair growth and can treat scalp conditions. Some of the turmeric benefits for hair are given below.
14. Treatment of Dandruff:
Dandruff and other scalp issues can be treated by applying a mixture of turmeric and olive oil on your scalp before taking a shower. Leave it for 15 minutes and then wash off the mixture with a natural shampoo. It removes the signs of dandruff by increasing circulation in the scalp and providing nutrition to the hair follicles.
15. Prevents Hair Loss:
Hair loss can take place due to various reasons like unhealthy diet, stress or disease. Curcumin is a component of turmeric that can inhibit the activity of growth agent beta one known as TGF beta one which causes the death of hair follicles resulting in hair loss. Turmeric mixed with honey and milk can be extremely beneficial as they reduce the negative effects on your hair.
16. Natural Hair Dye:
The yellow hue of turmeric not only makes it usable as a textile dye but also as a natural dye for your hair to brighten your hair colour. It can be combined with other yellow coloured herbs and flowers such as saffron, calendula and chamomile tea. Boil this mixture and after cooling, pour it over your head. Leave for 15 to 20 minutes and wash off to get a vivid colour.
17. Treatment of Scalp Conditions:
Turmeric can be used in the treatment of various scalp conditions such as dermatitis and eczema that can lead to itchy, flaky skin, inflammation and thinning hair. Cicatricial alopecia is a scalp ailment caused by inflammation that damages the hair follicles and prevents growth of new hair. Fungal infections can also cause hair loss. Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric is effective against these ailments due its antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antioxidant, antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
[Read:Turmeric To Cure Pimples]
Turmeric For Health:
18. Turmeric is said to prevent cancer and childhood leukaemia with the aid of its main component curcumin.
19. It helps in detoxifying the liver, which further prevents the risk of hepatitis, cirrhosis and jaundice.
20. It also aids in fat metabolism to help manage the weight along with improving digestion, reducing gas and bloating.
21. Turmeric extracts or bitters when taken twice a day daily for two weeks prior expected menstruation cycle will help reduce the monthly menstrual cramps in ladies.
22. Turmeric has anti-bacterial properties along with anti- inflammatory and anti-septic properties! Thus, Turmeric is a good healing agent.
23. Boosts immunity on account of its strong anti-oxidant activity which fights off free radical attacks in the system.
24. Its strong anti-inflammatory property also acts against the development of rheumatoid arthritis and delays it.
25. When taken as supplements, it also aids in reducing joint pains.
26. The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties also reduce inflation in brain which is believed to be the main reason behind Alzheimer’s disease. This can therefore also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
27. Turmeric regulates the homo-cysteine levels and therefore through its interactions in the level it also controls the cholesterol level. it is hence also useful to ward of cardiovascular diseases.
28. Turmeric also moderates your insulin levels thereby having a limited level of influence over diabetes control.
[Read:Benefits And Uses Of Neem]
How to Select and Store?
Selection: These days dried herbs and spices are widely available in supermarkets. But it is better to purchase them from local spice stores in your area as their collection of dried herbs and spices are of superior quality and comparatively fresher than those offered by regular markets. When purchasing turmeric, always prefer to buy organic turmeric as it does not possess additives.
The colour of turmeric varies greatly and it is important to choose the correct turmeric powder. Often turmeric is mixed with other ingredients to give it a yellow –red hue. Being a natural colourant, it is also used by industrial workers to ward off the risks that may arise from the usage of artificial colouring material. The turmeric in curry powder has the highest content of curcumin, averaging about 3.14 % in weight. Turmeric is available both in chunks as well as powder and should be purchased after verifying the freshness and quality.
Storage: Turmeric powder should be kept in a tightly sealed container and stored in a cool dry place protected from light. Fresh turmeric rhizome should be placed in the refrigerator. Too much heat should be avoided as it can volatilize and dissipate its aromatic essential oil whereas high humidity will cause it to cake. Sunlight, on the other hand, can fade its colour. Containers should be tightly closed after using and older stock should be used first. Exposure to air for a long time will cause flavor and aroma loss.
Tips for Usage (Cooking/Eating)
Turmeric is also known as Indian Saffron due to its characteristic yellow-orange hue. It can form part of several dishes, imparting its colour, aroma and flavor to them. Turmeric root is ground to make turmeric powder which is a common spice, particularly in curries. Some of the ways by which turmeric can be enjoyed are given below.
- Turmeric root can be eaten plain. All you need to do is wash it in running cold water to remove any dirt or debris and peel the skin off with a knife. You can eat it raw.
- Turmeric powder can be added to your salad dressing to provide them an orange-yellow hue. Turmeric root can also be used in salads. For this purpose, peel and chop fresh turmeric root and this can be added to any kind of salad.
- You can mix brown rice with raisins and cashews, and season it with turmeric, cumin and coriander.
- Chopped turmeric root can be added to sandwiches to provide flavor without being overpowering.
- You can prepare a creamy low calorie dip by mixing some turmeric and dried onion with some mayonnaise, salt and pepper. This can be served with raw cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets.
- Turmeric powder is delicious on sauteed apples and healthy steamed cauliflower or green beans and onions. Turmeric is a great spice to flavor recipes comprising of lentils.
- Not just curries, turmeric powder can greatly complement different kinds of soups. You can also add peeled and chopped turmeric to soups.
- Turmeric can be used to prepare a delicious dish comprising of cauliflower. Cut cauliflower florets into half and saute with turmeric for 5 minutes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste after removing from heat.
- Fresh turmeric root can be added to your favorite smoothie. Blend peeled turmeric root with other fresh fruits and vegetables to make a delicious and healthy smoothie.
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