A spice found in every Asian home and one which is used almost
everyday too ...How well do you know it ?? or know about it??
The following ought to be an eye opener for even the most
avid researcher of Indian Ayurvedic practitioner, leave alone us poor mortals ..
Part 1 of this exhaustive report today
Turmeric: The Ayurvedic Spice of Life
Great Healers, in one form or another they are sought out by all of us.
Somewhere inside we all seek balanced happy lives and so we seek that
which will grant us health and joy.
This article is about Turmeric, one of the planet’s great healers.
This healer is not obscured in some esoterica and not distanced by a cosmic price tag.
As usual with great healers, it is very close to you and readily accessible,
in fact, it is probably in your house right now, though it may be hard to believe
that such a common item is one of the world’s best all around herbs.
The core of its worldwide ubiquity is found while walking through
the bazaars of India where you are bound to find a masala wallah,
a spice seller, with mounds of Turmeric
that he is selling by the kilo.
It is a great sight in the midst of mountains of clove buds,
black pepper fruits, coriander seeds, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods
and all these marvelous colorful spices that the world has loved since Silk Road days.
Ayurveda is as full of commonsense as it is humming of the mystical and so,
especially since it is an oral tradition, it is with the common people of India,
like the spice sellers and the village mothers, that many traditions of herbal knowledge
are learned and passed from elder to child for countless generations.
In this way the ability of Turmeric is proven and its legacy grows.
I have learned so much about ‘common’ herbs from ‘common’ people
that I could never have learned elsewhere.
Though Turmeric is common it is an uncommonly beautiful plant
with orange red lily-like flowers and deep green long slender leaves
that smell like mangoes.
Most of the Ayurvedic doctors that I meet in India consider Turmeric,
to be one of the best herbs of India, and many go as far as saying that it is the best.
What Ayurveda has known for millennium modern science is now starting to prove
for itself in laboratories and clinics around the world.
· Gana: Kusthaghna, Haridradi, Shirovirechana
· Guna: Laghu (light) & Ruksha (rough)
· Rasa: Katu (pungent) & Tikta (bitter)
· Virya: Ushna
· Vipaka: Katu (pungent)
· Dosha: Tridoshic at normal dosages
· Prabhava: Purifies the skin and complexion
· Manas Tri Guna: Sattva
Because it is pungent and warming it pacifies Kapha and Vata.
It is also bitter and astringent and so it pacifies the Pitta dosha.
Being 70% carbohydrates lends a sweetness that can balance Vata and Pitta.
In my experience Turmeric is predominantly Sattvic but leans toward being Rajas,
sort of like a combination of a playful monk with a job to do and a calm noble warrior.
Healing Properties Overview
Besides flavoring food, to purify the blood and remedy skin conditions is probably
the most common use of Turmeric in Ayurveda.
The principle organs that it treats are the skin, heart, liver and lungs.
Sushruta recommended it for epilepsy and bleeding disorders.
Charaka recommends it for skin diseases, to purify the bodymind,
and to help the lungs expel Kapha.
Activities of Turmeric include:
alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory,
anti-tumor, anti-allergic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic,
appetizer, astringent, cardiovascular, carminative, cholagogue,
digestive, diuretic, stimulant, and vulnerary.
Therapeutic uses include:
AIDS/HIV, anemia, cancer, diabetes, digestion, food poisoning,
gallstones, indigestion, IBS, parasites, poor circulation, staph infections, and wounds.
Turmeric helps regulate the female reproductive system and purifies the uterus
and breastmilk, and in men it purifies and builds semen,
which is counterintuitive for a pungent bitter.
It reduces fevers, diarrhea, urinary disorders, insanity, poisoning,
cough, and lactation problems in general.
It is used to treat external ulcers that respond to nothing else.
Turmeric decreases Kapha and so is used to remove mucus in the throat,
watery discharges like leucorrhea, and any pus in the eyes, ears, or in wounds, etc.
Names of Turmeric
Every Ayurvedic herb typically has dozens of names that point to different aspects
of the herb including its appearance, it's mythology, and it's healing ability.
I feel that learning an herb’s names is an essential way to study the herbs.
The most common of the dozens of Sanskrit names for Turmeric is Haridra,
which can be translated to mean ‘the yellow one.’
Other Sanskrit names are Aushadhi, Gauri, and Kanchani.
Gauri means ‘the one whose face is light and shining,’
and Kanchani means the ‘Golden Goddess.’
To me the most interesting name is Aushadhi,
which usually simply means ‘herb.’
However, it is used in the Vedas as a name of Turmeric.
This makes me think they considered Turmeric to be thee herb,
the most outstanding herb, the one herb above all others.
The Hindi name is Haldi, which means ‘yellow,’
and the Latin binomial is Curcuma longa,
a member of the Ginger family, Zingiberaceae.
A World of Turmeric
“I have found a plant that has all the qualities of Saffron, but it is a root.”
(Marco Polo on Turmeric, 1280 AD)
As far as documented evidence, it is used daily in India for at least 6000 years
as a medicine, beauty aid, cooking spice, and a dye, though I am sure its use
goes back at least 30,000 years.
Ostensibly it was used to worship the Sun during the Solar period of India,
a time when Lord RamaChandra walked the Earth.
Especially in South India, you can see people wearing a dried Turmeric rhizome bead
the size of a large grape around their neck or arm. This is an ancient talisman tradition
used to ward off evil and grant to the wearer healing and protection.
Buddhist monks have used Turmeric as a dye for their robes for at least 2000 years.
It was listed in an Assyrian herbal circa 600 BC and was mentioned by Dioscorides
in the herbal that was thee Western herbal from the 1st to the 17th century.
As mentioned above, Europe rediscovered it 700 years ago via Marco Polo
and it is used in traditional Brazilian medicine as a potent anti-venom
to neutralize the bleeding and lethal poison of Pit Vipers.
For at least 1000 years Chinese Medicine has used Turmeric especially for the
Spleen, Stomach, and Liver Meridians. They use it to stimulate and purify, and
as an anti-biotic, anti-viral, and an analgesic.
As such it is used to stimulate and strengthen the blood
and decrease blood pressure, to clear abdominal pain
and stagnation in men, women and children, and to remove
stagnant Chi, the pain due to stagnant Chi, and excessive wind element.
They consider it one of the better herbs for women because it stimulates the uterus
and clears menstrual stagnation, dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea due to congested
blood arising from a lack of heat or simply a deficiency.
Personally, with the way that Turmeric can move the Chi,
I use large therapeutic doses of Turmeric with Yin asanas
as an herbal equivalent of an acupuncture session.
Unani is the name of the ancient Persian system of medicine that has
connected Ayurveda with the Greek Medicine for thousands of years.
In visiting Unani Hakims from the Nile to the Narmada
I have appreciated the way they keep their herbs cleaner than other herbalists.
In Unani Turmeric is considered to be the safest herb of choice for all blood disorders
since it purifies, stimulates, and builds blood.
You have heard of the phrase "Hot to the 3rd degree."
I expect that the etymology of this phrase is with the Unani Hakims.
"To the nth degree" is how they describe the potency of an herb,
which can have any given quality to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree.
For Instance, Turmeric is considered both dry and hot to the 3rd degree.
When the ancient Polynesians made their fantastic voyages in canoes across the
Pacific Ocean to Hawaii they took with them the roots, cuttings, and seeds of about
25 of their most valuable plants. Known as Olena, meaning yellow, Turmeric was
one of these plants. Their tradition is carried on today by the Kahuna of Hawaii,
the ‘Knowers of the Leaf’ or rhizomes as the case may be.
As in other cultures, they use Olena as food, medicine, dye, and for
ceremonial purification. The juice is used in earaches or to purify the sinuses via the nose.
The root is also eaten to treat most pulmonary problems such as bronchitis or asthma.
The Indian practice of applying the root paste to the face to cure any blemishes
is popular in this tradition as well. For ceremonial purification prayers are chanted
as the mixture of fresh Olena juice and sea water is sprinkled on people,
places and objects to remove negativity and restore harmony.