Turmeric – Golden Spice of Hindu Life
January 5, 2021

“Turmeric is the best antidote for fluoride”.- Supreme Pontiff of Hinduism Jagatguru Mahasannidhanam His Divine Holiness Bhagavan Nithyananda Paramashivam 

Feb 27th,2020 – Nithyananda Satsang – https://nithyanandapedia.org/wiki/February_27_2017

Kailasa’s Nithyananda Annalaya strives to inspire and support the world to take up Siddha and Ayurvedic diet as a lifestyle. Towards this goal, We document and present various Siddha and ayurvedic herbs, their benefits and uses in an understandable user friendly way for viewers to read and apply in their homes. 

Indian medicine has several herbs and oils which are a gold standard in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha medicine. Castor oil is one of them, which actually looks like an 18- carat gold liquid. The other is turmeric, commonly called haldi. Turmeric is known for its rich orange yellow color and is a must in any curry in Indian cuisine. Besides its wide use in Indian cuisine, turmeric has innumerable uses in Hindu rituals, customs and traditions as well as being used in a wide variety of medicinal preparations.

Shatsra Pramana- Scriptural reference of Turmeric in Hindu Shastras

Turmeric is a spice derived from the rhizomes of the tropical plant Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). The bright yellow-orange color of turmeric comes mainly from fat-soluble, polyphenolic pigments known as curcuminoids. Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid found in turmeric, is generally considered its most active constituent. 

There are two main varieties of turmeric: one with hard, rich colored, oval rhizomes, called “Lokahandi Halad” that is used mostly for dyeing, and a variety that is softer, larger, lighter colored with long rhizomes used mostly for eating. 

Turmeric became valuable to humans when it was discovered that the powdered rhizome preserved the freshness and nutritive value of foods. It was originally used in curries and other food to improve storage conditions, palatability, and preservation. Because of its preservation properties, turmeric played a vital role in survival and sustainability in South Asia, and was valued more than gold and precious stones. In due course, turmeric was replaced with cheaper synthetics in some countries.

Many Names for the Golden Spice:

The Latin name for turmeric is “Curcuma Longa”, which comes from the Arabic name for the plant, “Kurkum.” In Sanskrit it is called “Haridra”(The Yellow One), Harita or Haladi, “Gauri” (The One Whose Face is Light and Shining), “Kanchani” (Golden Goddess), Aushadhi (Herb), etc. In fact, in Sanskrit turmeric is known by 53 different names! 

Turmeric is known by different names in the many Indian languages. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Hindi, Urdu, Oriya & Gujarati ->Haldi
  • Bengali->Holud; Marathi->Halad; Konkani->Halad, Ollad, Olladi; 
  • Kannada->Arashina; Telugu->Pasapu; Malayalam & Tamil->Manjal; 
  • Sindhi->Halda; Kashmiri->Lidar; Punjabi->Haldhor, Haldhar, Haldi

Given its diverse use, turmeric has varied names in different international languages:

  • Dutch->Geelwortel; Spanish, French, Italian->Curcuma; 
  • Portuguese->Açafrão-da-Índia; German->Kurkuma, Gelbwurzel; 
  • Russian->Zholty Imbir; Swedish->Gurkmeja; Japanese->Ukon; Arabic->Kurkum; 
  • Chinese->Yu Chin, Jaing huang; Sinhalese->Kaha; Khmer->Lmeal;
  • Farisi->Zardchubeh; Hawaiin->Olena

Historical Background: 

Turmeric has been used in Asia for thousands of years and is a major part of Ayurveda & Siddha medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani, and the animistic rituals of Austronesian peoples. In some countries, it was first used as a dye, and then later in folk medicine for its medicinal properties. Along with the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism, the use of turmeric spread to Southeast Asia as the yellow dye was used to color the robes of monks and priests. Turmeric has been found in use in Tahiti, Hawaii and Easter Island before European contact. There is linguistic and circumstantial evidence of the use of turmeric amongst the people of Oceania, Madagascar, Polynesia and Micronesia as well, in ancient times. In ancient Assyria, turmeric was used as a dye amongst the people. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was called “Indian saffron” indicating its origin to the people there.

With the spread of Buddhism outside India, an early use of turmeric was as dye for monks’ robes

India – Largest Producer in the World

India is the largest producer of turmeric in the world and also its greatest consumer, using 80% of what it produces. With its inherent qualities and high content of the important bioactive compound curcumin, Indian turmeric is considered the best in the world, with Erode, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, being the world’s largest producer as also the most important trading center for turmeric. Which is why Erode, besides being called Textile City, is also referred to as the “Yellow City,” or “Turmeric City,”. Sangli, a city in the Maharashtra state, comes second to Erode in size and importance as a production and trading site for turmeric.

It is also cultivated in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Indochina, Peru, Haiti, and Jamaica. Jamaica and Peru are the chief exporters, and Iran the largest importer. Other large importers are the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Singapore, and the Middle East. 

Components in Turmeric:

More than 100 components have been isolated from the turmeric. The main component of the root is a volatile oil, containing turmerone, and there are other coloring agents called curcuminoids in turmeric. 

  • Curcuminoids consist of curcumin demethoxycurcumin, 5’-methoxycurcumin, and dihydrocurcumin, which are found to be natural antioxidants. In a standard form, turmeric contains moisture (>9%), curcumin (5–6.6%), extraneous matter (<0.5% by weight), mould (<3%), and volatile oils (<3.5%). 
  • Volatile oils include d-α-phellandrene, d-sabinene, cinol, borneol, zingiberene, and sesquiterpenes.
  • There are a variety of sesquiterpenes, like germacrone; termerone; ar-(+)-, α-, and β-turmerones; β-bisabolene; α-curcumene; zingiberene; β-sesquiphellandrene; bisacurone; curcumenone; dehydrocurdione; procurcumadiol; bis-acumol; curcumenol; isoprocurcumenol; epiprocurcumenol; procurcumenol; zedoaronediol; and curlone, many of which are specific for a species. 
  • The components responsible for the aroma of turmeric are turmerone, arturmerone, and zingiberene. The rhizomes are also reported to contain four new polysaccharides-ukonans along with stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, cholesterol, and 2-hydroxymethyl anthraquinone 
  • Nutritional analysis showed that 100 g of turmeric contains 390 kcal, 10 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.2 g calcium, 0.26 g phosphorous, 10 mg sodium, 2500 mg potassium, 47.5 mg iron, 0.9 mg thiamine, 0.19 mg riboflavin, 4.8 mg niacin, 50 mg ascorbic acid, 69.9 g total carbohydrates, 21 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugars, and 8 g protein 
  • Turmeric is also a good source of the ω-3 fatty acid and α-linolenic acid (2.5%)

Preparing Turmeric for Use:

Before turmeric can be used, the turmeric rhizomes have to be processed. Rhizomes are boiled or steamed to remove the raw odor, gelatinize the starch, and produce a more uniformly colored product. In the traditional Indian process, rhizomes were placed in pans or earthenware filled with water and then covered with leaves and a layer of cow dung. The ammonia in the cow dung reacted with the turmeric to give the final product. Sadly, this method is discouraged. 

“In present-day processing, rhizomes are placed in shallow pans in large iron vats containing 0.05–0.1% alkaline water (e.g., solution of sodium bicarbonate). The rhizomes are then boiled for between 40–45 minutes (in India) depending on the variety. The rhizomes are removed from the water and dried in the sun immediately to prevent overcooking. The final moisture content should be between 8% and 10% (wet basis). When finger tapping of the rhizome produces a metallic sound, it is sufficiently dry. The dried rhizomes are polished to remove the rough surface…The powder maintains its coloring properties indefinitely, although the flavor may diminish over time.”

Fresh turmeric rhizome

Types of Turmeric:

The greatest diversity of curcuma species by number alone is in India, at around 40 to 45 species. Thailand has about 30 to 40 species. Other countries in tropical Asia have numerous wild species of curcuma

Of the Indian varieties. the most popular are: Alleppey Finger (Kerala); Erode and Salem turmeric (Tamil Nadu); Rajapore and Sangli turmeric (Maharashtra); Nizamabad Bulb (Andhra Pradesh).  Alleppey finger turmeric is known for its high content of curcumin. Its bright yellow colour has been preferred by spice importers in Europe and other continents.

In Tamil Nadu, the important varieties cultivated are Erode local, BSR-1, PTS-10, Roma, Suguna, Sudarsana and Salem local. Among these varieties, 70-75% is occupied by the local varieties.

Besides Alleppey Finger turmeric, Rajapore, Sangli, Nizamabad Bulb, Madras, Erode are some of the important exported varieties. In the Middle East, UK, USA and Japan, these are some of the well-accepted varieties exported. Turmeric exported in the processed form is dry turmeric, fresh turmeric, turmeric powder and oleoresin. 

Kasturi Turmeric:

Botanically called cucuma aromatica, it is this variety of turmeric that is used for the skin. Kasturi Turmeric is mostly found in South Asia and has long been used as a natural beauty product. However, the applications of Kasturi Turmeric is limited to external purposes. It cannot be used in cooking as a spice like regular turmeric. Kasturi turmeric is lighter in color to regular turmeric and is fragrant. Also, it does not leave a stain like regular turmeric. 

Kasturi turmeric helps to improves skin tone and the overall complexion; gives a blemish-free, naturally glowing skin; reduces acne and its scars effectively; slows down the growth of facial hair; heals skin infections and insect bites; treats several skin ailments including eczema; prevents and fades away stretch marks; works as a bath powder for babies.

Amba Haldi or White Turmeric: 

While the golden yellow variety is the most well known of turmeric, few are aware that there is also white turmeric. This is called Amba haldi as it smells like mango. This is a rare variety of turmeric. Scientifically known as curcuma zedoaria, this root is a rhizome that has brown skin and a bright orange and hard interior. It is generally sold as a powder, or dried and even sliced with a gray surface and a yellow to gray-white interior. It looks a lot like ginger.

Kali Haldi or Black Turmeric: 

Another less known variety of turmeric is the black one. The flesh of the black turmeric is bluish-purple color that can appear entirely blue or in light and dark concentric circles, sometimes lighter in the center or just near the skin. Black turmeric has a pungent, camphor-like smell. It is somewhat bitter, with an earthy, hot taste. The Kali haldi plant is used for ornamental purposes because of its attractive leaves.

Black turmeric is a rare herb. It is the rhizome of the cucurma caesia plant. The root of this plant has been used for centuries for medicinal and religious purposes. Black turmeric has similar benefits to the orange variety, but the darker cultivar contains highest concentrations of curcumin than any other curcuma species. In Hindi, the herb is called Kali Haldi. It is used widely in India for health and religious purposes.

Black turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The root has been used medicinally for centuries to treat arthritis, asthma, and epilepsy. Black turmeric root is crushed and can be applied to bruises and sprains to ease discomfort or applied to the forehead to help relieve symptoms of migraines


Black turmeric is native to northeastern and central India where it has been part of cultural ceremonies and medicinal remedies. Black turmeric is used by many tribal communities in the state of Madhya Pradesh. For centuries in India, Black turmeric has been used in the puja for the Goddess Kali. Black turmeric has also been used by tribes in northeastern India to ward off evil spirits; pieces of the root were kept in a pocket or medicine bag.

The herb is sold fresh or dried in markets across India and southeast Asia. 

As of 2016, black turmeric has been listed as an endangered species by the Indian Agricultural Department. Efforts are being made to protect and conserve Black turmeric in Odisha (formerly Orissa), on the central eastern coast, along the Bay of Bengal.

The black haldi plant is used for ornamental purposes because of its beautiful leaves!

Lakadong Turmeric:

Lakadong turmeric is considered the world’s best turmeric. It is grown in the micro region climate of the Lakadong village in the Jainita hills near Shillong, Meghalaya in North Eastern India. It is grown entirely organically in the sun and under the rain using traditional Khasi agricultural wisdom. Research conducted by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research shows that the Lakadong variety has a high curcumin content of 6.0-7.5%, while in general curcumin presence is 3-4% in other varieties of turmeric. There is a very high demand by the pharmaceutical industry for turmeric varieties with high curcumin content as it can be used in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and dye/food-colouring industries.

Turmeric as Aushada – HDH Sri Nithyananda Paramasivam:

Turmeric as Aushada – SPH Sri Nithyananda Paramasivam:

HDH Sri Nithyananda Paramasivam is a big advocate of ayurvedic and siddha medicine and has on several occasions talked of the many benefits of turmeric, especially by applying it on the body as an aushada. 

In the satsang, “Ayurvedic Techniques to Detoxify Your Body from Psychedelic Drugs & Fluoride”, His Divine Holiness says:

“If you have damaged your system by taking any of the modern day drugs or psychedelic drugs apply turmeric on your forehead every night and take Haritaki. Actually fluoride enters your system even through skin. Fluoridated water you don’t need to drink, even if you take shower, 40% fluoride enters into your system. And the antidote for fluoride is turmeric. That also enters your system through skin. If you rub turmeric, more than 40 % enters into your system. So taking bath using turmeric or haritaki powder applying turmeric on your forehead taking bath by applying haritaki on your skin or taking haritaki orally or taking turmeric powder orally in your food, all these can do detoxification. In the night before going to bed apply turmeric on your forehead, rub nicely. This two can heal you like anything. It can remove the unnecessary toxin you accumulated due to taking anti depressions or bipolar medicines or mavana or any other psychedelic drugs, even the flouride.

Please understand fluoride is officially declared as neurotoxin. Fluoride strengthens your teeth and bones is a lie. It does not. And whatever the quantity fluoride you need, your body is intelligent enough to produce. You don’t need external fluoride. Floridating is one of the ways you are kept in dullness. you are kept in a low level sub consciousness. Low neurological life is maintained in your system by fluoride.

Fluoride keeps you constantly internally fighting. So you are busy with yourself. You don’t become a rebel or you don’t become a powerful person. Please understand, in those days in Indian villages women used to apply turmeric and take bath. Not lost one generation, I have seen my mother and all use it. In those days there used to be one small stone on which they rub the turmeric and that they will apply on the whole body and take bath. 

When you are going to apply the turmeric in the night time take the turmeric and make it like a paste. Nicely apply fall asleep. Early morning wash and come out. Don’t frighten the people who are living around you. Using the turmeric for bath means taking with both the hands and applying it in the whole body rub nicely. Rubbing that makes the turmeric to get into your system or haritaki, you can use anyone.

If you clean the body, remove the hair. That pore needs to be rubbed. If you remove the hair and rub the turmeric or haritaki it will get into the pore and that will detoxify you strongly. So take a handful and nicely rub on all over the body. Your skin should become like pink. That much rub. Don’t use any other stone or anything. Use only hands and rub. That’s the best way to detoxify. It is described in a detailed way in ayurveda to detoxify.”

In another satsang on November 11, 2018, He talks about the intake of 6 herbs as absolutely essential for detoxing the body. He says:

“It looks very funny but simple. Everyday have these 6 items in your every meal – little turmeric, little pepper, little neem, little haritaki, little lemon and little tamarind.

Understand as much you enjoy these six items, it helps you to detoxify your mental thought currents. Please understand most of your problems are physical not mental. Even your mental thought currents can be cleansed and flushed out by the right organic food. It may look funny. You may think mental problems can be solved only by mental exercise, only physical problems can be solved by physical food. NO.

Mental problems can be solved by physical food. This 6 items added in every meal as much as possible add this 6 to your food. Keep your food vegetarian and add this 6 to your food. I will tell you the amount of healing, detoxification of your mental patterns will happen to you, you cannot imagine.” 

Turmeric in Ayurveda & Folk Medicine

Turmeric has been used in therapeutic preparations in folk medicine for many thousands of years in different parts of the world. Within the vast body of medicinal plants, few possess such a wide spectrum of qualities and medicinal uses as the turmeric. For thousands of years, many different cultures have used this versatile herb to treat a myriad of diseases and ailments. And, no image/advertisement on Ayurvedic medicine is complete without a bowl or spoonful of golden yellow turmeric in it! 

The most well known medicinal action of turmeric is its use as a powerful anti-inflammatory, the effectiveness of which is comparable to pharmaceutical medicines. However, it also acts as an alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, stimulant, and vulnerary. Modern science is beginning to recognize and understand the amazing healing qualities of turmeric and much research is currently being conducted.

Turmeric has been proven effective in treating some of the most severe diseases afflicting the world today including: Arthritis, Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Atherosclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Hepatitis-C, Genital Herpes) , Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Indigestion, Inflammation, Acne, Urinary Tract Infections, Kidney Infections, Gallstones, Anemia, Hemorrhoids, Liver Disease, Leprosy, Amenorrhea, Edema, Bronchitis, Common Cold, Headaches, Conjunctivitis, Bursitis, food poisoning, parasites, fever, diarrhea, poor circulation, lower back and abdominal pain. 

In Ayurveda, turmeric is believed to balance the three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha). It has been used by Ayurvedic healers as medicine taken internally in the form of fresh juice, boiled tea, tinctures, or powder, and topically as creams, lotions, pastes, and ointments. There are many ancient Ayurvedic formulas utilizing turmeric, as below: 

  • Milk boiled with turmeric and sugar was a popular cold remedy and turmeric juice was used to help heal wounds, bruises, and leech bites. 
  • A paste made from turmeric, lime, and salt was commonly applied to sprains and inflamed joints. 
  • Smoke made by sprinkling turmeric over burnt charcoal was used to relieve scorpion stings within a few minutes that the affected area is exposed to smoke. 
  • Inhaling the fumes of burning turmeric was also used commonly to release copious amounts of mucous and provide instant relief from congestion. 
  • The fumes also were believed to help in hysteric fits. A pinch of turmeric was also used as an insect repellent in the kitchen. 
  • A paste made of turmeric alone or with neem leaves was used for ringworm, itching, eczema, and any other parasitic skin condition. 
  • The Charakra Samhita section on Therapeutics states that turmeric, black pepper, long pepper, and ox bile was a common remedy for consumed poison or snake bites, up until the last stage. 
  • The Charaka Samhita also provides a traditional remedy for jaundice: turmeric, triphala, neem bark, bala, licorice cooked in milk and ghee of buffalo. If this did not work then inhalation therapy was indicated. Cigars were made from turmeric paste, cinnamon, castor plant root, lac, red arsenic, deodar, yellow orpiment, and nardus, smeared with ghee and smoked. 
  • Inhalation of the fumes of barley paste with ghee was also a treatment for jaundice. 
  • Hemorrhoids (piles) were treated with an ointment of turmeric, hemp leaves, onions, and warm mustard oil or linseed oil, applied externally when the hemorrhoids are painful and protruding. 
  • Pastes of turmeric were used for smallpox, chickenpox, shingles, ulcers, conjunctivitis, skin blemishes, malaria, and applied to the cut placenta after the birth of a child.
The beauty of orange gold – fresh and dry powdered turmeric

In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has been proven to have many medicinal properties including strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis. 

  • Turmeric is a well-documented treatment for various respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma, bronchial hyper activity, and allergy), as well as for liver disorders, anorexia, rheumatism, diabetic wounds, runny nose, cough, and sinusitis. 
  • Indians use turmeric, in addition to its Ayurvedic applications, to purify blood and remedy skin conditions. 
  • Turmeric paste is used by women in some parts of India to remove superfluous hair. Turmeric paste is applied to the skin of the bride and groom particularly in Hindu marriages as it is believed to make the skin glow and keep harmful bacteria away from the body. 
  • Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of several sunscreens. Several multinational companies are involved in making face creams based on turmeric.
  • It is used as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises, and as an antibacterial agent, as an anti-inflammatory agent, and as a remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. 
  • Since ancient times, turmeric has been used to treat sprains and swelling.
  • Turmeric is used to cleanse wounds and stimulate their recovery by applying it on a piece of burnt cloth that is placed over a wound. 
  • Turmeric is considered a bitter digestive and a carminative. 
  • Unani practitioners also use turmeric to expel phlegm or kapha, as well as to open blood vessels in order to improve blood circulation. 
  • Turmeric is incorporated into foods, including rice and bean dishes, to improve digestion and reduce gas and bloating. 
  • It is a cholagogue, stimulating bile production in the liver and encouraging excretion of bile via the gallbladder, which improves the body’s ability to digest fats. 
  • Sometimes, turmeric mixed with milk or water is taken to treat intestinal disorders as well as colds and sore throats.
  • Aside from this turmeric is also used as a mosquito repellent, wound healer, and immediate cure for scorpion stings. 
  • Turmeric helps balance the female reproductive and lactation systems, and in men it purifies and improves the health of semen. 
  • It is used to treat external ulcers that would not respond to other treatments.

The Powers of the Golden Spice:

Turmeric has hundreds of molecular constituents, each with a variety of biological activities. 

  • There are at least 20 molecules that are antibiotic, 14 that are known cancer preventatives, 12 that are anti-tumor, 12 are anti-inflammatory and there are at least 10 different antioxidants. 
  • One database presented over 326 known biological activities of turmeric. The rhizome is 70% carbohydrates, 7% protein, 4% minerals, and at least 4% essential oils. It also has vitamins, other alkaloids, and is about 1% resin. 
  • Curcumin is the substance that is responsible for the biological activity of turmeric. Combined with black pepper, curcumin becomes 2000 times more potent. 
    • The active properties of curcumin are best called “protective properties”, protecting the living tissues of our body and enabling extending its life span. 
    • Clinical and laboratory research indicates that diets that include turmeric or curcumin “stabilize and protect biomolecules in the body at the molecular level”, which is shown in its antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, and anti-carcinogenic action. These components may work by protecting a person directly, by shielding the biomolecules, or indirectly, by stimulating the natural detoxification and defense mechanisms of the body: helping the body to heal and preserve itself naturally. 
    • Current statistics show that 98% of all diseases are controlled by a molecule called NF-Kappa B, a powerful protein that promotes abnormal inflammatory response in the body. Excess of NF-Kappa B can lead to Cancer, Arthritis, and a wide range of other diseases. Studies show that curcumin subdues NF-Kappa B, meaning that it may work to prevent nearly all diseases afflicting our world today.
A field of turmeric flower – a sight to behold!

The Battle Against Modern Diseases – Turmeric to the Rescue:

Given its success and centuries of use in traditional medicines, turmeric has been researched extensively and applied to a host of modern diseases, in the last 50 years or so. Here is a list of 20th century ‘lifestyle’ diseases that turmeric is applied to a greater or lesser extent as a possible cure for them.

Cancer: Scientists are beginning to realize the importance of turmeric/curcumin in treating modern disease. Much research has been conducted on the various effects of curcumin in the body; the most widely researched is that of its effects on Cancer. Turmeric is considered to fight Cancer in three ways: 

  • It neutralizes those substances and conditions which can cause cancer; 
  • It directly helps a cell retain its integrity if threatened by carcinogens (a substance showing significant evidence of causing cancer or growth of cancer cells); 
  • If a tumor does grow the curcumins can often destroy it. 

Arthritis: Turmeric is also a powerful anti-inflammatory herb. It has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, injuries, trauma, and stiffness from both under activity and over activity. It is also helpful after surgery to decrease pain, inflammation and accelerate healing. Some sources suggest that turmeric/curcumin is most effective for acute inflammation, and not for chronic. Many sources recommend turmeric for Arthritis but the scientific evidence is still unclear and much more research is underway.

Skin Diseases: Turmeric also has a special action to purify and nourish the blood and skin. External application stops pain and swelling, heals wounds rapidly, and treats many skin diseases ranging from acne to leprosy. The classic way to apply turmeric topically is as an “Ubtan”: a blend of turmeric, chick-pea flour, sesame or almond oil, a little fresh cream and honey. This will clear up skin blemishes, and increase the natural glow and radiance of the skin. Turmeric essential oil works wonderfully as an external antibiotic to prevent infections in wounds. A nice formula for a wound healing salve is a mixture of olive oil, beeswax, tea tree oil, aloe, turmeric, arnica, slippery elm, red clover, thyme oil, and vitamin E. Since turmeric is bitter and anti-inflammatory, it is excellent for hot skin diseases, red rashes, and especially wet eczema. 

Liver Problems: A lot of liver problems today are attributed to alcohol and hard drugs consumption, smoking, eating pesticide ridden junk foods, etc. Turmeric helps to release toxins and pathogens from the liver. It is known to both destroy toxins in the liver, and to rebuild the liver after a toxic attack. Turmeric increases the secretion and movement of bile, and may prevent all forms of liver disease. It is also helpful in treating food poisoning. Turmeric helps keep the liver healthy so it can do its job of keeping the body detoxified.

Blood Purifier: Ayurveda uses turmeric to purify and move the blood, as it is a wonderful alterative. It helps to remove stagnant blood while stimulating the formation of new blood tissue. Turmeric regulates menses, and decreases the intensity and pain of menstrual periods, and of uterine tumors. Turmeric is a mild and supportive uterine stimulant and its many actions on the liver suggest that it may assist in balancing hormone levels as well.

Gastro-Intestinal Problems: Turmeric also has a special action to help the entire Gastro-Intestinal system by increasing intestinal flora and generates healthy digestion. It is traditionally used for weak stomachs, poor digestion, dyspepsia, parasites, abdominal cramps, to normalize metabolism, to help digest protein and breakdown of fats, to increase absorption, and the ability of the stomach to withstand digestive acids. 

Turmeric is also a carminative: it helps to decrease gas and distention. According to Ayurveda, plants that treat digestion are often the most important herbs of all since digestion is the basis of mental and physical health. As a vulnerary it also helps to nurture and heal mucous membranes; it has a strong protective effect against food and materials that are corrosive to the stomach and intestines as from food poisoning.

Respiratory Problems: Another major use of turmeric is support of the respiratory system. As an antioxidant it protects the lungs from pollution and toxins. It also helps the oxygen transfer from the lungs to the blood. Turmeric with ghee is traditionally used to get rid of cough and to treat asthma. 

Heart Problem: It also supports the heart in many ways. Turmeric can assist in lowering cholesterol and prevent Atherosclerosis (blockage of arteries that can cause heart attack and/or stroke). Animal studies have shown that turmeric lowers cholesterol levels and inhibits the oxidation of LDL (“bad cholesterol”, responsible for clogging of arteries). Turmeric may also prevent platelet buildup along the walls of injured blood vessels, another common cause of blood clots and artery blockage that can result in heart attacks and strokes.

Multiple Sclerosis & Alzheimer’s Disease: Studies are also underway regarding turmeric’s believed effects in treating and preventing neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. This belief generates from the realization that elderly Indian people who eat turmeric on a regular basis are far less likely to develop these ailments than those who do not eat turmeric. In fact, Alzheimer’s Disease is 4.4 times less common among older adults in India than in the United States. It has been noted that people taking anti-inflammatory medication for Arthritis are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. However, more research is needed in this area to prove such theories.

Fighting HIV/AIDS: New research also suggests that turmeric may play a vital role in fighting HIV/AIDS, particularly HIV, Type 1. In a recent study at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, India, when scientists ‘fed’ curcumin to HIV-infected cells in the laboratory, the virus stopped replicating. Several studies have shown that people who have HIV and AIDS are deficient in many antioxidant vitamins and minerals, and it is believed that it is the powerful antioxidant properties of turmeric that combat the disease. In a study at Harvard Medical School, research showed that curcumin prevented the reproduction of HIV by blocking a specific gene that activates the virus and causes it to spread. Another study showed that it may help decrease the reproduction of HIV. 

The Gold, Standard in Food!

Turmeric is a key ingredient and must-have in many Asian dishes which adds a mustard-like, earthy aroma pungent, slightly bitter flavor to the dish. It is used mostly in savory dishes, but also is used in some sweet dishes. It is used in many products such as baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, cereals, sauces, etc. 

No Indian curry is complete without turmeric added to it. That is the importance of this spice gold to Indian cuisine.

cauliflower curry
cauliflower curry mixed vegetables curry
turmeric based ice cream

Samples of turmeric based rice (L-R) – Lime Rice, Tamarind Rice, Vegetable Biryani

In the coastal cities of South Western India, turmeric leaf is used to prepare a sweet dish, patoleo/patoli. Another sweet dish, made using fresh turmeric is the haldi barfi.

Fresh turmeric barfi

The Golden Turn in South Asian & Middle Eastern Food

Turmeric is used widely as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. 

  • The Moroccan spice mix ras el hanout typically includes turmeric. 
  • In South Africa, turmeric is used to give boiled white rice a golden color, known as geelrys (yellow rice) traditionally served with bobotie. 
  • In Vietnamese cuisine, turmeric powder is used to color and enhance the flavors of certain dishes, such as bánh xèo, bánh khọt, and mì Quảng. 
  • The staple Cambodian curry paste, kroeung, used in many dishes including amok, typically contains fresh turmeric. 
      Ras el hangout – Morocco
Kroeung – Cambodia

Yellow curry paste – Thailand


  • In Thailand, fresh turmeric rhizomes are used widely in many dishes, in particular in the southern Thai cuisine, such as yellow curry and turmeric soup.
  • In Indonesia, turmeric leaves are used for Minang
  • In Sumatra the padang curry base of Sumatra, such as rendang, sate padang, and many other varieties. 
  • In the Philippines, turmeric is used in the preparation and cooking of kuning and satay. 

Haldi Dudh – Golden Milk Strikes it Big in the 21st Century!

Golden milk as turmeric milk (haldi dudh) is referred to in the West, is an Indian healthy immunity boosting drink that has been gaining popularity in Western cultures, especially in this last decade of the 21st century. 

This bright yellow beverage is traditionally made by warming up cow’s or plant-based milk with turmeric and other spices, such as cinnamon and ginger. 

It’s touted for its many health benefits and often used as an alternative remedy to boost immunity and stave off illness. Sold in the US and UK, the drink known as “golden mylk” uses vegan milk and sweetener, and sometimes black pepper (the traditional recipe also adds a little ghee)

Recipe for Haldi Dudh:


  • 1/2 cup (120ml) of an unsweetened milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 small piece of grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp of ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp of honey (optional)


To make the golden milk, simply mix all ingredients in a small saucepan or pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and flavorful. Strain the drink through a fine strainer into mugs. Ayurveda recommends consuming this milk at night, as it also induces good sleep.

Benefits of Golden Milk:

Generally, haldi dudh or golden milk has added ingredients of ginger and cinnamon, and pepper too. Each of these ingredients have several health benefits. Benefits of drinking golden milk are many, a summary of which is below:

  1. Golden milk is rich in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage, fight off disease and infections and contribute to your overall health. Most golden milk recipes also include cinnamon and ginger — both of which have impressive antioxidant properties as well).
  2. The ingredients in golden milk have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, the main ingredients in golden milk, have strong anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce inflammation and joint pain. Studies even suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin are comparable to those of some pharmaceutical drugs with none of the side effects. 
  3. Golden milk is good for your brain. Studies show that curcumin helps to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a compound that helps your brain form new connections and promotes the growth of brain cells. Low levels of BDNF may be linked to brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Lab tests show that cinnamon in golden milk helps to reduce build up of tau protein the accumulation of which is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Similarly, cinnamon seems to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improved brain function. Ginger too can boost brain function by improving reaction time and memory. 
  4. Turmeric’s active compound curcumin — boosts mood and reduces symptoms of depression. Curcumin appears to boost levels of BDNF, and hence has the potential to reduce symptoms of depression. 
  5. The main ingredients in golden milk, namely turmeric, ginger and cinnamon – all have properties that benefit heart function and protect against heart disease. Also, curcumin improves the function of your blood vessel linings — known as endothelial function. Proper endothelial function is important for a healthy heart. These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can protect against heart disease. 
  6. Cinnamon and ginger, two main ingredients in golden milk, help to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon reduces insulin resistance which in turn lowers blood sugar levels. Cinnamon helps to reduce how much glucose is absorbed in your gut after a meal, which can further improve blood sugar control. Similarly, regularly adding small amounts of ginger to one’s diet can help lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 12%. A small, daily dose of ginger can also lower hemoglobin A1C levels by up to 10% which is important for long-term blood sugar control. 
  7. Studies indicate that cinnamon, ginger and turmeric can offer some protection against cancer. Cinnamon and Curcumin, can help to kill isolated cancer cells in a test tube and prevent the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, limiting their ability to spread. 
  8. The ingredients used to make golden milk have antibacterial and antiviral properties which can protect your body from infections. The ingredients in golden milk also have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which strengthen your immune system. In India, golden milk is often used as a home remedy against colds. In fact, the yellow drink is touted for its immune-boosting properties. Besides, compounds in fresh ginger help to inhibit the growth of some bacteria. The golden milk can help treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi.
  9. Ginger and turmeric in this milk helps to relieve indigestion. Turmeric helps relieve symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis. Chronic indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is characterized by pain and discomfort in the upper part of your stomach. Delayed stomach emptying is a potential cause of indigestion. Ginger in golden milk, can help relieve this condition by speeding up stomach emptying in people suffering from dyspepsia. Research shows that turmeric can help reduce indigestion symptoms. Turmeric also improves the digestion of fat by increasing your production of bile by up to 62%. 
  10. Golden milk is rich in calcium and vitamin D depending on the milk you use. Both of these nutrients contribute to a strong skeleton, reducing the risk of bone diseases, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Both cow’s and enriched plant milks are generally rich in calcium and vitamin D — two nutrients essential for building and maintaining strong bones. If your diet is too low in calcium, your body starts removing calcium from your bones to maintain normal calcium levels in your blood. Over time, this makes bones weak and brittle, increasing your risk of bone diseases, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Vitamin D contributes to stronger bones by improving your gut’s ability to absorb calcium from your diet. 
Rhizome & leaves of the turmeric plant

Turmeric in Hindu Rituals & Traditions

In India turmeric is not just a spice plant but it represents a whole system of living.  Turmeric has many representational qualities in the way of Hindu, Buddhist and many other communities worship their divinities. It is not only the easily accessible sacred medicine but also represents purity of the mind, fertility of the soil, healthy body. People of ancient India believed that turmeric contained the energy of the Divine Mother, helped to grant prosperity, cleanse the chakras (energy centers in the body), and purify the channels of the subtle body. 

  • In Hindu rituals and pujas turmeric rice or akshata is an essential ingredient offered to the deity or used in the worship. Homas, pujas and yagnas are completed by showering akshata to the deity or into the fire. 
  • In fact, in every Hindu ceremony, encapsulated in the 16 samskaras, a blessing is done by showering akshata on the deity, person, child, being such as the cow, elephant etc. and completed by prostrating before the deity/parents/elders/priest.
  • In the vidyarambh ceremony, little children begin by writing the first letter on a plate of turmeric rice as an auspicious beginning to their formal education.
  • In Tamil Nadu, even today women use turmeric as a cosmetic, called “kappumanjal” and rub it over their bodies as an antiseptic.
  • Some people wear 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.
 A turmeric-dyed wedding saree
A turmeric-dyed coconut draped with the mangalsutra


A Hindu wedding is preceded by the haldi ceremony, where the bride (& groom) is applied turmeric paste and blessed by elders before a ceremonial bath, in preparation for the big day

  • In marriages, turmeric has a central role to play to purify the body and minds of the marrying couples. 
    • A Hindu wedding is preceded by the haldi ceremony where the bride and groom are applied a paste of turmeric and blessed by elders of the family before the ceremonial bath for the couple’s big day.
    • Turmeric is made into a paste and applied to the forehead (ajna chakra or third eye) during pujas (devotional ceremonies) and weddings. 
    • In South India, especially amongst the Tamil Hindus, a marriage is solemnised with a piece of dried turmeric rhizome in a turmeric-dyed thread which the groom will tie around the neck of the bride.
    • During a traditional Indian wedding ceremony, the bride and groom apply a paste of turmeric and sandalwood powder on each other’s foreheads. 
    • Traditionally, turmeric was also used to dye the marriage clothing. It was believed that any clothing dyed with turmeric was protection from fever. New clothes would sometimes be stained with a paste of turmeric, lime, and water.
    • The couple are blessed with akshata or turmeric rice at the end of the nuptial ceremony.
  • In many temples across India the image of the deities are washed everyday as part of the ritualistic ablution or “abhishekam” and the left over from such purification is distributed to the devotees as prasad. It is also one of the sacred offerings to the divinities along with rice, sandalwood, sacred ash, incense sticks, oil etc.

Turmeric abhishekam to (L-R) Nandi, Shivalinga, Devi Saraswati

Yellow is a favored color to wear during rituals and homas for Hindus

  • Every new function in any household begins with a yellow color cloth given to the priests. The turmeric dyed clothes are worn by priests for conducting rituals and ceremonies. During their birthdays, children are given turmeric dyed white clothes to go to the temple.
  • Turmeric has been used as a coloring agent or dye for clothes, especially used by sannyasis and Buddhist monks. For Hindus and Buddhists the colour yellow is scared as it represents the most purified state of existence of the divine consciousness. The yellow colour robe worn by male and female monks represents that they have achieved a higher state of consciousness.
Buddhist child monks

Above – female sannyasis of the Nithyananda Order

Male sannyasis & brahmacharis of the Nithyananda Order with HDH Sri Nithyananda Paramasivam

  • In many parts of rural India, people decorate house walls and the door frames with various color pigments (as above). One of the main colors used for the purpose is turmeric and vermillion (red). 

A kolam using turmeric, rice and vermillion to celebrate Tamil Nadu’s famous harvest festival

  • In many parts of South India (as also in North East India), every morning women draw kolam on the floor of Mother Earth. The materials used for drawing the colorful drawings on the floor are mainly rice and turmeric powder. 
    • Kolam is a sacred design drawn to attract positive spirits and to ward off evil. It is also a welcome sign to guests who come visiting the house. The designs are meant to give prosperity not only to the house but to the entire neighbourhood including surrounding nature. These are complex geometric patterns,  expertly drawn with a free hand, on the bare earth just outside the main gate of the house. Usually, a layer of cow dung paste is applied on the floor before the kolam patterns are drawn on them. 
  • Turmeric also plays a role in pregnancy and birthing in India. Traditionally, it is said that taking turmeric when pregnant will ensure that the child will always have beautiful skin. Turmeric taken in the last two weeks of pregnancy in warm, organic milk helps to expedite a simple birth, while increasing the health of the mother and child as well. Turmeric is also an analgesic (pain reliever) and is sometimes used in natural childbirth to decrease pain.

Kalasha/Kalash/Kalasa (Sanskrit: कलश; literally “pitcher, Kalasha pot”), is a metal (brass, copper, silver or gold) pot with a large base and small mouth, large enough to hold a coconut. Sometimes “Kalasha” also refers to such a pot filled with water and topped with a coronet of mango leaves and a coconut. This combination is very important in Hindu rites and depicted in Hindu iconography. The entire arrangement is called Purna-Kalasha, Purna-Kumbha, or Purna-ghata. 

For different kinds of devi pujas, such as Gowri Habba which precedes Ganesh Chaturthi or the Varamahalakshmi Puja, a turmeric laced coconut is decorated with a sari and jewelleries to represent the deity.

Varamahalakshmi Puja Swarna Gowri Habba

The Khandoba temple in Jejuri, Maharashtra where devotees shower turmeric powder over each other as part of the annual jatra of the deity here.


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