Turmeric is known to be one of the oldest spices that have been used in India since ages. Initially, it was cultivated as a dye as its vivid yellow color works brilliantly as a coloring agent. Then with time, ancient population came to know about its highly developed uses and they started using it for cosmetic and beautification purposes and eventually as a condiment as well as medicine. Ancient Indian medical pharmacopoeia, Ayurveda, also extensively mentions about the historical turmeric being an exceptionally effective herb for stomach disorders and food poisoning.
Turmeric originated in Southern India and this region continues as the world’s largest producer. As a seedless plant, its movement to new locations throughout the tropics has been dependent upon people. Later, it is also cultivated in various parts of Asia and Africa. Turmeric made its way to Jamaica and it is now cultivated throughout the tropics, including Hawaii and Costa Rica.
Turmeric is a tropical herb and is grown in both tropical and subtropics. It produces large and better rhizomes in the open ground exposed to the sun. It requires humid climate for excellent growth. Soils with a little higher sand content (loams and sandy loams) are well suited for turmeric cultivation. Turmeric can grow in different types of soils from light black, sandy loam and red soils to clay loams.
India is the largest producer of turmeric in the world. The major turmeric producing states are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Planting season varies with the area and variety of turmeric. Generally, planting is done during May – June or July – August. Turmeric is rarely cultivated in pure stand. However, it is usually grown with other crops. It matures in 7 – 9 months depending on verity. The crop is ready for harvesting when the leaves turn yellow and starts drying up.
Rhizomes are boiled in water and drying in the sun. Dried rhizomes are available commercially for various purposes such as culinary, medical and cosmetics. Turmeric as spice is deep yellow in color, possessing a characteristic pungent flavor.
- Turmeric is used in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products like ice creams, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn, sweets, cereals, sauces and gelatins etc. Sometime, it is also used as coloring agent and to impart mustard like flavor and yellow color. In India, turmeric is used beautic product for various skin ailments and various skin creams.
- Curcumin which is found in turmeric, has significant anti-inflammatory properties
- Protects healthy cells from cancer-causing agents and aids the body in destroying mutated cancer cells before they have a chance to spread to other areas.
- Helps to prevent cystic fibrosis diseases
- It also helps to lower the cholesterol, blood purifier and prevent heart disease.
- In Ayurveda, turmeric is a natural medicine which is used for many ailments such as burns, cuts, wound, acne and pimples etc.
- It is also used as an anti-bacterial agent.
- Relieves menstrual pain and gives relief from fatigue, nausea, pelvic pain and crumps
- Used as a dietary supplement that helps in stomach problems and other ailments
- Used for disposing off intestinal worms and to treat mental disorders, jaundice and venereal diseases.