Turmeric root (Curcuma Longa or Haldi) has been knighted the “Golden Spice of Life” after its many natural healing properties. Turmeric is native to India and is now found throughout the tropics. In Singapore, you can find turmeric roots at most supermarkets. At wet markets such as Tekka and Geylang Serai, tumeric is sold loose and so you can choose the best of the lot.
This traditional curry spice has reached superstar status. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin (a vivid yellow carotenoid), has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Since most diseases appear to be induced by inflammatory response, turmeric is potentially good for a huge range of illnessnes, most commonly arthritis, certain cancers, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, colds and fever and external wounds. Other beneficial properties of turmeric include improving circulation, digestion and detoxification. These effects build up over time with regular use at small doses. The leaves (daun kunyit in Malay) are used in India and southeast Asia to flavour curries or to wrap up food to form parcels.
On its own, the medicinal properties of turmeric are not bioeffective to rapid metabolism. One proven way to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric is to consume together with a pinch (1-2 percent) of black pepper. Piperine in black pepper boosts the absorption by 2,000 percent. Heat also improves its bioavailability. As curcumin is fat-soluble, turmeric is best taken with a healthy fat such as coconut milk (in tea).
|Botanical Name||Curcuma Longa|
|Family||Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)|
|Parts Used||Rhizome, leaves|
|Native Region||India, southern Asia|
|Geographic Distribution||Tropical regions|
|Where to find in Singapore||Supermarkets, wet markets|
|Botanical Description||Aromatic perennial with shiny, oblong, pointed leaves and an indefinite spread. The leaves can grow up to 60 cm (24 in) in length.|
|Growing||Able to grow in Singapore. Prefers moist, fertile soil with high humidity and partial shade. Sow seeds or propagate by root division.|
|Harvesting||Harvest turmeric 9 – 10 months after planting. Signs that the turmeric rhizomes are mature and ready for harvest include the leaves turning yellow or stems drying. To harvest, unearth the entire plant including the roots.|
|Main Constituents||Curcumin flavanoid (yellow pigment), volatile oils including tumerone, atlantone, and zingiberone, resins.|
|Actions||Alterative, analgesic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumour, astringent, cardiovascular, carminative, choleretic, cholagogue, detoxifier, digestive bitter, diuretic, hypolipidemic, stimulant, vulnerary.|
|Therapeutic Uses||Anaemia, boost immunity, cancer, diabetes, detoxification, gallstones, indigestion, IBS, parasites, poor circulation, and wounds.|
|Culinary/Medicinal Preparations||Decoction, tincture, powder, ointment.|
|Recipes from SRK||Golden Milk, Golden Potion, Carrots on Fire, Fireflu Fighter, Goldilocks Porridge, Spice of Life Rawnola, Quinoa Moong Dal Kitchari, Sambal Tempoyak, Tempoyak Patoli, Dals, Zucchini Turmeric Hummus, Cha Dau Tofu, Tofu Scramble, Pickled Turmeric, Fire Cider, Tiger Toddy, Yellow Curry Paste, Curry Spice, Ras el Hanout.|
|Taste||Mildly bitter, acrid, astringent and pungent.|
|Energetics||Warming and drying. It can be combined with a moistening herb or drink more water to counter its drying effect.|
|Safety & Dosage||May aggravate acid reflux and acute ulcers and interact with blood thinners. Its oxalic acid content may make regular use inappropriate for those prone to kidney stones. May occasionally cause skin rashes or photosensitivity. Avoid therapeutic doses in pregnancy, but culinary amounts are safe.|
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