Latin:  Curcuma longa

Family:  Zingiberaceae

Parts Used:  Rhizome

Taste/Energetics:  Bitter, warming, drying

Properties:   Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, alterative, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, acarminative, astringent. diuretic, vulnerary, circulatory stimulant, anti-tumoral, nootropic

Actions:  Endemic to tropical areas of Asia, turmeric has long been used to spice dishes and for its medicinal value.  Turmeric is commonly used in India for a variety of concerns.  It improves digestive and hepatic function, soothes inflammation such as arthritis, ulcers and chronic pain, stimulates better circulation, bolsters the immune system, and helps to improves reproductive system.  Turmeric is also useful as an external agent to help heal cuts, abrasions, stings and burns.

In terms of mental health, turmeric works in a number of ways.  It can help to heal a sluggish, tense digestive system.  When the gut does not absorb nutrients effectively, overall vitality decreases.  Gut permeability can lead to unwanted cytokines entering the bloodstream and causing inflammation.  Quite a bit of research is going into looking at inflammation as one of the main causes of depression and anxiety.  Turmeric acts an excellent anti-inflammatory that in turn reduces the potential for anxiety and depression.   Turmeric has also been studies for its cognitive enhancing and protective features and appears to be quite useful in cases of dementia and alzheimers.

Research done with rats have shown that turmeric can reduce the potential for deeply recording fear after a traumatic event.  That means it shows potential as an agent to offer folks who have PTSD.

Dosage:  This will be beating a dead horse but herbs are generally better when you can taste them.  The tongue receives information about the taste and energetics of the herb and sends signals to the rest of the body for healing.  That is why I am not a fan of taking turmeric in capsules.   Generally you will find turmeric sold as a standardized powder that contains a certain percentage of its active constituent curcumin.  500 mg to 4 x/day.

In the best situation, turmeric would be taken by fresh grating the root or using fresh powder and adding it into meals or beverages 1-2 grams to 2 x/day.  Powdered turmeric will lose its efficacy if its been sitting on your shelf for a year.

The root can be tinctured but I find this an inferior way of taking this herb.  1-2 ml to 3 x/day

Contraindications:   Turmeric and its main active constituent curcumin have become something of a panacea these days with everyone putting it into smoothies, meals and taking it as capsules, etc.  And while turmeric is generally a good thing, there are some precautions.  It is generally warming and drying and not as good for an overly hot, dry type and can cause excessive drying out of tissues if taken in large doses or taken regularly.


Further Reading:

Benefits of External and Internal Use of Turmeric  by Dr. Vikram Chuhan