Turmeric Summary:

Turmeric has been used as a food, medicine, and colouring agent for thousands of years. Many of turmerics actions make it useful for acute conditions like arthritis and infection, however, most of the applications of turmeric benefit most from long term usage. 

As a main ingredient in curry, this herb is easily consumed in adequate amounts on a near daily basis. Turmeric milk is another popular method of consumption which involves mixing turmeric into warm milk until nearly saturated. 

Turmeric has a wide range of actions within the body, including anti-inflammatory, choleretic, antimicrobial, cardioprotective, and carminative. It has a potent antioxidant profile, making it useful for nearly everybody as a daily health supplement.

Recently turmeric has been reported to be a sort of "cure-all" for a long list of conditions. Although its broad actions allow it to be used effectively for many different, seemingly unrelated conditions, it's far from a cure-all. Media hype has way over promised the effects this herb can deliver, but that doesn't mean it isn't something many people can find benefit from. Just take the advice given over the internet with a grain of salt and do your own research. 

Botanical Name

Curcuma longa



Part Used

Rhizome and tuber

Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Hypolipidaemic
  • Choleretic
  • Cholagogue
  • Antimicrobial
  • Carminative
  • Depurative
  • Antineoplastic
  • Radioprotective
  • Neuroprotective
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Nephroprotective
  • Cardioprotective
  • Vasoprotective
turmeric root


Liquid Extract (1:1)

5-15 ml/day
35-10 ml/week

Turmeric Milk

4 g of powdered turmeric can be mixed with water or milk and consumed one or 2 times a day.

A note on long term usage

Turmeric is appropriate to use long term as a preventative medicine or food additive.

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+ Inflammatory conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Psoriasis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Asthma
  • Infections
  • Eczema

+ Cardiovascular System:

  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypertriglyceridemia

+ Gastrointestinal System:

  • Dyspepsia
  • Poor digestion
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrom (IBS)

+ Other:

  • Improvement of gastric function
  • Improvement of hepatic function
  • Cancer

+ Preventatively for:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Fatty liver disease

Common Names:



Kurkuma (Germany)

Gelbwurzel (Germany)

Gurkmeja (Sweden)


Traditional Uses:

    + Western Herbal Medicine

    Turmeric has been used as a spice and medicine for thousands of years. It was listed in an ancient Assyrian herbal from around 600 BCE as well as by Dioscorides [5].

    + Ayervedic Medicine

    In India, turmeric is used as as stomachic, tonic, to purify the blood, improve digestion, treat fevers, skin conditions, and vomiting during pregnancy. Here, it is also applied topically to treat conjunctivitis, skin infections, cancer, sprains, arthritis, haemorrhoids, reduce hair growth, promote wound healing, and treat eczema. [5]. Its main, longstanding use, especially in Ayurveda is for its potent antinflammatory actions [3].

    + Traditional Chinese Medicine

    (Turmeric rhizome; Jiang huang)

    Taste: Pungent and bitter [6]

    Energy: Warm [6]

    Channels: Spleen, stomach, liver [6]

    Actions: Regulates and moves blood, regulates and moves Qi, Descends Qi, dispels wind-damp, removes blood stasis, relieves pain [6].

    Indications: Do NOT use during pregnancy. [6].

    Dose: 3-10 g decocted 20 min [6]

    Contraindications: All forms of defficiency, especially if signs of blood or Qi stagnation are not present [6].

    (Tumeric tuber; Yu Jin)

    Taste: Pungent, bitter, arromatic [6]

    Energy: Cold [6]

    Channels: Heart, lung, liver [6]

    Actions: Moves and regulates blood and Qi, removes blood and Qi stasis, cools heat, cools blood, drains damp-heat [6].

    Indications: Do NOT use during pregnancy [6].

    Dose: 3-10gdecocted 20 min [6]

    Contraindications: Yin deficiency after blood loss, lack of indication of blood or Qi stagnation [6].

    In traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric is used to stimulate the blood and Qi, offer analgesic properties, treat chest and abdominal pain and distention, jaundice, frozen shoulder, ammenorhhoea due to blood stasis. The tuber is used similarily to the root but is used more in hot conditions. [5].


    Botanical Description:

    Turmeric is contained in the zingiberaceae (ginger) family. It can grow up to 1m high. The flowers are pale yellow in colour. The rhizome has 2 parts, a primary, egg shaped primary rhizome (referred to in Chinese medicine as the tuber), and cylindrical, branched secondary rhizomes growing from the primary rhizome. [5]. 

    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Much of the cultivation of turmeric is in India (especially the south central states), as well as China, Taiwan, Philippines, Java, Haiti, Jamaica, and Peru [4, 7]. 


    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    Turmeric essential oil is produced via steam distillation from the dried rhizome. It is yellow in color due to the curcuminoids (o.3%-5.4%). [4]. 



    Turmeric contains a rich source of medicinal components. The yellow pigment, especially has a wide range of well studied, and fairly well understood medicinal actions within the body. It is made up of curcuminoids which includes curcumin (diferuloylmethane), as well as demethoxylated curcumins. Curcumin has been shown to influence transcription factors, cytokines, growth factors, kinases, and other enzymes. This chemical has been used extensively in cancer treatment and prevention. [5]. The essential oil also consists of tumerone (30%), turmerone (23.6%), zingiberone (25%), 1,8-cineole (1%), alpha-phellandrene (1%), sabinene (0.6%), borneol (0.5%) [4]. 

    Turmeric also contains an essential oil which contains: sesquiterpene ketones (65%)(includes ar-turmerone), zingiberine (25%), phellandrene, sabinene, cineole, and borneol [5]. 

    Synthetic Glycosyl-curcuminoids have been created and are currently being explored for medicinal applications and efficacy [1, 2, 9]. 


    Curcumin is poorly absorbed, and rapidly metabolised where it is conjugated in the liver. It is then excreted in the feces. This means the availability of curcumin in the body is limited. [12]. 


    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

    + Antinflammatory

    Curcumin is a dual inhibitor of arachidonic acid metabolism [5], As well as TNF induced Nf-kB [8].

    + Antioxidant

    Turmeric acts as an antioxidant by reducing lipid peroxidation, and priming Nrf2/ARE [5].

    + Cancer

    Curcumin has been found effective against leukemia [8], protsate cancer [9], and various inflammatory cascades [5, 10, 11].



    The LD50 of a petroleum ether extract taken orally is 12.2g/kg in rats. There has been a fair bit of study in the toxicity of turmeric and various extracts, all finding the same low toxicity both with high dose, and long term tests. [5].  



    None listed. 


    Still compiling research. 

    More Herbs


    Justin Cooke

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: June 2017

    Blog Posts Featuring Turmeric:

    Recent Blog Posts


    1. Saladini M, Lazzari S, Pignedoli F, Rosa R, Spagnolo F, & Ferrari E. (2009). New synthetic glucosyl-curcuminoids, and their (1)H and (13)C NMR characterization, from Curcuma longa L. Plant Foods For Human Nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 64(3), 224-9. doi:10.1007/s11130-009-0122-3
    2. Lin L, Shi Q, Nyarko AK, Bastow KF, Wu CC, Su CY, Shih CCY, Lee KH (2006) Antitumor agents. 250 des synth N curcumin analogues potential anti-prostate cancer agents. J Med Chem 49:3963–3972
    3. Ammon HP, Wahl MA. Pharmacology of Curcuma longa. Planta Med 1991;57:1-7.
    4. Battaglia, S. (2003). The complete guide to aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Brisbane, Australia: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.
    5. Bone K, Mills S. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Elsevier health. China. (Pg. 900-922). 
    6. Hempen, C. H., & Fischer, T. (2009). A Materia Medica for Chinese Medicine: Plants, Minerals, and Animal Products. (Pg 536-539). 
    7. Swahn, J. O. (1991). The lore of spices: Their history and uses around the world. New York: Crescent Books.
    8. Zambre AP, Kulkarni VM, Padhye S, Sandur SK, Aggarwal BB (2006) Novel curcumin analogs targeting TNF-induced NF-κB activation and proliferation in human leukemic KBM-5 cells. Bioorg Med Chem 14:7196–7204. doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2006.06.056
    9. Lin L, Shi Q, Nyarko AK, Bastow KF, Wu CC, Su CY, Shih CCY, Lee KH (2006) Antitumor agents. 250 des synth N curcumin analogues potential anti-prostate cancer agents. J Med Chem 49:3963–3972
    10. Weber WM, Hunsaker LA, Abcouwer SF, Decka LM, Van der Jagbt DL (2005) Anti-oxidant activities of curcumin and related enones. Bioorg Med Chem 13:3811–3820. doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2005.03. 035
    11. Chen IN, Chang CC, Ng CC, Wang CY, Shyu YT, Chang TL (2008) Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of Zingiberaceae Plants in Taiwan. Plant Food Hum Nutr 63:15–20
    12. Ireson C, Orr S, Jones Dj, et al. Characterization of metabolites of the chemopreventive agent curcumin in human and rat hepatocytes and in the rat in vivo, and evaluation of their ability to inhibit phorbol ester-induced prostaglandin E2 production. Cancer Res 2001;61:1058-1064