Turmeric

Turmeric

A perennial and robust herb that can reach a height of 90 cm. Its leaves are large, green, and oblong in shape with a tapered edge. Its pale yellow flowers are shaped into ears. Its fresh rhizomes have beige-coloured skin and bright orange flesh.

Latin name

Curcuma longa L.

Origin

South Asia - India.

Used part

The rhizomes.

Active components

Curcumins: polyphenols with an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action.

Carotenes: Hydrosoluble antioxidants.

Essential oil: responsible for the aroma.

Usage

Turmeric is one of the main ingredients in numerous Asian dishes, as well as curry powders. It has an earthy and slightly bitter flavour that resembles pepper, and a fragrance resembling that of mustard. Turmeric is a natural preservative and colourant. In medieval Europe, turmeric is known as “Indian saffron”, because it has widely been used as an alternative to saffron, which is much more expensive, to add colour to food. Currently, turmeric is used to add colour to cheeses, yoghurt, butter and margarine. Turmeric has also been used to add a yellow colour to certain mustards and other food products. Turmeric is currently used to colour clothing for fabrics such as saris and the robes of Buddhist monks. Some populations apply it to the body during certain rituals. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. In India, it has traditionally been used to treat stomach discomfort and liver complaints, as well as to heal wounds and regulate menstruation. In fact, it is mostly the polyphenolic components in turmeric that are responsible for most of its health effects. Clinical trials have demonstrated that turmeric is safe to use, even at a high dose of 12 g per day in humans, but it has low bioavailability. This is due to its low oral absorption due to its extremely low solubility in water and the pre-systemic metabolism of this molecule. Numerous measures have been taken to improve the bioavailability of turmeric. These approaches mainly rely on the used of an additive such as piperine. Currently, clearly better results have been obtained through micro-inclusion of the molecule in beta-cyclodextrin and phytosomes. Thanks to its antioxidant action, turmeric offers cellular protection. 1-10 It helps to manage inflammatory responses. 11-63 It contributes to good health and the proper function of the liver 64-98 and the digestive system. 99-132 Turmeric contributes to the health of the musculoskeletal system. It helps to protect and maintain the flexibility of the joints, tendons and muscles, and to relieve inflammatory pain. 133-153

Bibliographical references

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