Belonging to the ginger family, turmeric has been used in East India and the Middle East for thousands of years, and is now one of the most highly-prized spices in the world.
Ancient medicinal uses for turmeric began when it was noted as an anti-inflammatory agent, and then to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as jaundice, menstrual problems, blood in the urine, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, flatulence, and colic.
The name “turmeric” is derived from the Persian word for "saffron," the neon yellow-orange hue used to make curry and yellow mustard. A domesticated plant rather than wild, India remains one of the most prominent producers of turmeric, along with Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Jamaica, and Haiti.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It's also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium.
While it's improbable that someone would ingest an entire ounce of turmeric in one sitting (although it would be completely safe), the nutritional aspects listed above can be seen more easily in this amount than in a teaspoon, which accounts for zero amount of anything. But one tablespoon, being a more reasonable serving, does communicate excellent phytonutrients. In fact, turmeric is effective even in very small quantities, such as one serving of a turmeric-spiced dish.
The health benefits of turmeric include an improved ability to digest fats, reducing gas and bloating, decreased congestion, and improved skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
More reported health benefits of turmeric include relief from joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reduced joint swelling, and greater range of motion when used regularly.
Research also suggests that turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, lowering cholesterol counts, protecting the heart, relieving indigestion, improving liver function, and even preventing Alzheimer's disease. Cancer prevention and inhibited cancer cell growth –specifically cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, and lung, and childhood leukemia – are also on the list of possible benefits.