Turmeric (Curcuma longa / yellow ginger)
One of the five spices that make up curry powder, turmeric (also called yellow ginger and curcumin) is often used to add a deep yellow color to dishes. It is more than a coloring agent though since it imparts a distinct peppery flavor of its own. Unpeeled, it looks like a small ginger. Peeled, the flesh is a deep yellow (almost orange) in color. Fresh turmeric is prepared in much the same way as ginger. It is peeled then ground (traditionally, with a mortar and pestle) before it is added to food.
Turmeric is cultivated primarily in Bengal, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Java. Peru, Australia and the West Indies, and is used extensively in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. As a herbal medicine, it is said to be a potent yet safe anti-inflammatory, an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, a relief for rheumatoid arthritis, a help for cystic fibrosis sufferers, and an inhibitor of cancer cell growth and metastases.
While some quarters admit that turmeric is “an interesting home remedy with a lot of promise,” others warn that there is “little reliable evidence to support the use of turmeric for any health condition because few clinical trials have been conducted.”
Just last year, however, a study conducted by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia yielded more than promising results. They found out that curcumin significantly decreases the size of a blood clot which led them to believe that turmeric might lower chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and may even reduce the size of a hemorrhagic stroke.