Have you ever thought how colourless food would look and bland a cuisine would taste without the addition of that bright yellow coloured spice stocked up in your kitchen cabinet? Well, apart from adding a wonderful heady fragrance, and a unique earthy taste with a touch of citrusy bitterness, this staple kitchen ingredient, known as turmeric bestows the food with a quarry of healthful nutrients and benefits and even used topically for enhancing the beauty and skin health. Imbued with incredible properties, this precious rhizome is not only used for ayurvedic and folk remedies but also owing to extensive studies, nowadays they also come in the form of turmeric supplements and are widely used in the western regions.
What Is Haldi?
Deemed as ’Sarva Roga Parashamani’, Haldi is the ultimate immunity booster and a rejuvenate ingredient that has been used by people since centuries. A member of the ginger family, haldi is intrinsically blessed with a host of healing properties including antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Fondly touted as the ‘King Of All Spices’, Haldi goes by the botanical name Curcuma longa and comes from the Zingiberaceae family. It is an herbaceous plant of perennial origin and grows to a height of 1 mt. It has smooth, green, tapering leaves arranged alternately in pairs on the stems. Further, the leaf is divided into the leaf sheath, leaf blade and petiole where the leaf sheath gives rise to a false stem. But the main component of the haldi plant is its powerful underground rhizomes which are highly branched, orangish-yellow, cylindrical and aromatic in nature. Haldi usually gives rise to hermaphrodite flowers in the month of August which are dull yellow in colour and are arranged in a pair of five.
The haldi plant thrives well in temperatures between 20-30°C and in a well-drained soil. Although, it is native to India, it is also found growing in the temperate regions of Africa and extensively cultivated Indonesia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and Madagascar.
Common Names Of Haldi
This aromatic spice is known by different names in different regions in India including Curcuma longa, Turmeric, Common Turmeric, Indian Saffron, in English, Manjal in Tamil, Pasupu, Pasupu Kommulu in Telugu, Haldi, Haridra, in Hindi, Holud in Bengali, Arsina, Arisin in Kannada, Haladi, Haladhi, Halar, Kalaj in Punjabi, Haladar in Gujarati, Halad in Marathi, Kumkum in Arabic, Urukessuf in Urdu and Zardchob in Farsi.
Ayurveda knows Haldi by the following Sanskrit terminologies including Varvnini, Rajni, Ranjani, Krimighni, Yoshitipraya, Hattvilasini, Gauri, Aneshta, Harti, Halada, Pampi, Halud, Pitras, Mannal, Pacchamannal, Jal, Haldar, Halade, and Kanchni.
Part Of Haldi Used
It is that plumpy rhizome of the turmeric plant that is used both for medicinal, culinary and beautification purposes. Haldi is mostly used in powdered form or as a raw grated spice. The powder or the rhizome is usually obtained from the root of the plant that has a tough brownish skin and a dark orange flesh. Haldi is often referred to as “Indian saffron” because of its deep orangish-yellow hue. It also has a distinct warm, peppery, and sometimes bitter flavor with a unique aromatic fragrance that mimics the smell of ginger and orange.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Haldi
Since centuries, haldi or turmeric is the most recognized therapeutic plant of the India subcontinent and hence it is mentioned time and again in several Puranic texts and scriptures just like the Atharava Veda, Upanishads, Charak Samhita, Sarangadhar Samhita etc portraying the excellent qualities of this divine spice. The holistic science of Ayurveda acknowledges this Rasayani dravya as Harad or Haridra and has actively mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Kustha (treats skin disorders), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Anulomana (improves breathing), Prameha (manages diabetes), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Amahara (treats indigestion), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Kanthya (improves voice), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Keshya (treats hair problems), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis) Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Jvara (useful in fever), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Arsha (treats piles or haemorrhoids), Krichra (treats painful micturition) Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Pandu (treats anaemia), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kamala (prevents jaundice), Varnya (improves complexion), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), and Hridaya (treats heart problems).
Chemical Constituents Of Haldi
Mother Nature has blessed the humble turmeric with a wealth of bioactive components that account for the widerange of therapeutic properties that ultimately helps in boosting immunity and scourging the body of infections, microbes and diseases. These biochemical components include curcuminoids like curcumin (diferuloylmethane), desmethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, curone, curidone, curzerenone, curcumenone, eugenol, cineol, epiprocurcumenole, camphor, camphene, alpha-terpineol, cinnamic acid, p-coumaric acid, vanillic acid, phellandrene, caryophyllene, eugenol, limonene, guaicol, linalool, p-cymene, Alpha-pinene, azulene, borneol, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, turmerone, sabinene, beta-sitosterol, procurcumadiol, and procurcumenol.
Apart from this, turmeric also portrays a rich source of essential nutrients including Vitamins A, B, C and E, minerals calcium, chromium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, selenium, zinc, and potassium, phytochemicals carotenoids, carotenes, and xanthophylls.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Haldi:
Aids In Digestion
Owing to the excellent digestive properties, turmeric plays a pivotal role in promoting digestion. The anti-flatulent and astringent properties of the powder reduce the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus reducing bloating, flatulence, and abdominal distension. The abundance of laxative properties in the golden yellow powder offers a one-stop remedy for constipation and other digestive issues. The antacid quality of the plant also prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis, heart burn and helps in promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body.
A teaspoon of haldi powder, when consumed early in the morning by diluting with warm water, helps to get rid of gastrointestinal problems.
Remedies Liver Anomalies
Turmeric possesses potent hepatoprotective and hepatostimulative properties which makes it a magical remedy during jaundice and other liver anomalies, in which the liver gets mostly effected. The rhizome offers support to the liver functioning by secreting bile which in turn helps the liver enzymes to come down to normal levels. It also cleanses and detoxifies the liver and improves liver functioning.
Promotes Weight Loss:
The abundance of flavonoids in the turmeric powder helps the body shed excess weight faster. Being loaded with essential nutrients, when taken regularly, turmeric satiates sudden hunger pangs and prevents overeating and hence can play a pivotal role in one’s weight loss regimen. The powder also reduces the accumulation of LDL (i.e. Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, thereby improving metabolism and helping the body to maintain a proper weight.
Thanks to the quarry of antioxidants and the bioactive component Curcumin, turmeric confers several folk remedies for improving the immune system, fighting microbes and shielding the body against various infections. It also portrays the presence of strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antifungal properties, which is quintessential in preventing infections like fever, common cold, sore throat, and other respiratory anomalies.
Treats Wounds And Ulcers
The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of haldi holds high significance in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. The bioactive compounds in the turmeric powder promotes tissue regeneration, facilitates wound healing whereas the paste of turmeric powder not only helps in stopping blood flow from a cut or wound but also helps in treating the scar tissue.
Enhances Cardiac Functioning
Haldi is extremely effective in treating various heart ailments due to its strong antioxidative nature. It strengthens the heart muscles and prevents lipid build up in the blood vessels. The bioactive constituent curcumin reduces the levels of non-esterified fatty acids i.e. NEFA, and hence reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, heart blocks, blood clots, etc. It also plays a pivotal role in lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Remedies Pain And Inflammation
The array of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of the incredible yellow powder makes it the ultimate choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to arthritis. It is also extremely effective against Rheumatoid arthritis which is known as Amavata in Ayurveda. This type of vata usually stems from the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints. It also provides instant relief from burning sensations in various parts of the body.
Turmeric portrays strong anti-diabetic properties which play a quintessential role in pacifying the blood sugar levels in the body. The β-pancreatic cells, which helps in the production of insulin becomes extremely active on the consumption of the powder or raw rhizome. It also helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels in the body and maintains a balanced diabetic reading.
Improves Cognitive Functioning
Turmeric is an ancient and traditional remedy to increase the functioning of the brain. The potent antioxidants present in the rhizome improves the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Several types of research conclude that people taking turmeric powder regularly, have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities. It also helps in treating memory loss, stress, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Enhances Skin Quality
Imbued with potent antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, haldi offers blood purifying activity that helps in removing toxins from the blood and hence helps to manage a host of skin diseases. It also plays a quintessential role in treating oxidative free radical damage and managing inflammatory conditions like eczema, skin eruptions, boils, psoriasis, and scabies. The powder when used as a face pack also helps to prevent the various signs of ageing like wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes and actively increases the radiance and bestows a rejuvenated look.
DIY Turmeric Face Packs:
As a Face-Pack:
Make a mixture by adding some gulab jal, a tablespoon of besan and a pinch of turmeric powder into a paste-like consistency. Apply this paste all over the face and neck till it dries and then remove the pack with cool water. Also known as Ubtan, this powerful face pack is a boon for soon-to-be brides as it bestows one with a glowing, crystal clear complexion and gets rid of various skin issues within a week of use.
As a Scrub:
Ground the orange peel into a coarse powder. Add some milk, a tsp of lemon juice, a pinch of turmeric and a few drops of honey and make a paste of it. Apply this on the face, neck and hands and gently scrub in circular motions for 15 minutes. Do it thrice a week to get rid of dead skin cells, blackheads, tanning and welcome a brighter complexion within a fortnight.
For Treating Acne/ Pimples:
Take a small amount of aloe vera gel, add a drop of turmeric oil to it. Apply on the acne and pimple affected areas and keep it overnight. Follow this ritual twice a day to get rid of skin problems.
Apart from the usual therapeutic, culinary and topical applications of turmeric, this incredible component is a quintessential ingredient in religious occasions, and wedding festivities as well. In most Indian weddings, both the bride and groom’s side have a haldi function as one of the marriage rituals, in which the groom and the bride have applied a paste of haldi which is believed to not only enhance the skin quality and luminance but also protect the individuals from bad omens. In Tamil Nadu, people celebrating Pongal makes use of turmeric rhizome to worship the Sun God. Additionally, turmeric is also used for dyeing clothes.
Effect On Doshas:
The humble turmeric is sanctified with Tikta (i.e. bitter taste) and Katu Rasa (i.e. pungent taste) and Laghu (i.e. light) and Rukshna Guna (i.e. dry quality). It intrinsically portrays Ushna Virya (i.e. hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e. pungent metabolic taste). These amazing properties of Haldi help in normalising all three doshas including Pitta (fire and air) doshas, Kapha (earth and water) doshas and Vata (air) doshas. Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Neem has a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) of the body including Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
The ayurvedic properties help in portraying the following main prabhabs on the body which are, Lekhaniya (helps in scraping excess fat and cholesterol), Krimighno (treats worm infestation), Sirovirechana (treats headache), Vranahara (helps treat wounds), Shramahara (relieves tiredness), Chardi (relieves vomiting and nausea), Aruchihara (treats anorexia) and Krumihara (relieves worms).
The effectual therapeutic dosage of turmeric may vary from person to person depending upon the age, body strength, effects on appetite, severity, and condition of the patient. It is strictly advocated to consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner as he or she would evaluate the patient’s indications and prescribe an effective dose for a specific period.
Turmeric Powder/ Churna – ¼ tsp twice a day or as prescribed by the ayurvedic doctor or practitioner.
Turmeric Capsule/ Gutika - 1 capsule twice a day or as prescribed by the ayurvedic doctor or practitioner.
Turmeric Juice/ Kadha - 2-3 tsp a day or as prescribed by the ayurvedic doctor or practitioner.
Turmeric Extract: 250 – 500 mg, for adults, twice or thrice a day or as suggested by the ayurvedic doctor or practitioner.
How To Consume Turmeric?
Turmeric Churna (Powder):
Mix ¼ tsp of turmeric churna (powder) in lukewarm milk or water twice a day.
Turmeric Juice/ Kadha:
Mix 3-4 sp of turmeric juice in a glass of lukewarm water or milk and drink it twice a day.
Indian cuisines and delicacies are never complete without a pinch of turmeric. This golden yellow powder is a staple in all Indian household. Not only can this powerful spice be added to a variety of dishes like curries, smoothies, warm milk, salads, stir fried items, tea or milk, it can also be used to give a warm flavour and beautiful colour to broths, soups and even be used as an alternative to saffron for cooking up the mouth-watering traditional pulao or biriyani. Although, turmeric is also available in the form of pill or capsules, it is best to consume it in its raw form or natural powdered form for better therapeutic efficacy.
Simple Haldi Drinks
½ tsp grated haldi
½ tsp ginger, chopped
¼ tsp black Pepper
1 tsp honey
½ tsp lemon zest
2 cups water
Boil 2 cups of water in a vessel.
Add chopped ginger, haldi to it.
Boil it in low flame for 5 minutes and strain the mixture.
Add honey, lemon zest and pepper powder for taste and serve hot.
This haldi chai is a perfect mixture of antioxidants and other nutritional compounds. While ginger and black pepper helps improve digestion and boost immunity, lemon prevents oxidative damage and rejuvenates the body. The addition of honey prevents infections while soothing the tummy. Have this tea on empty stomach early in the morning to help shed excess calories as well.
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp cardamom powder
⅛ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp honey
1 drop of vanilla extract
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
1 glass of milk
Mix all the spices together.
Warm the milk in a vessel.
Add vanilla extract and honey to the milk.
Pour it in a glass and add 1 tbsp of the powdered mixture of spice.
Slowly whisk everything together.
Drink it warm.
Since decades, haldi doodh or golden milk has been the ultimate home remedy for flu’s and respiratory anomalies like cough, cold, sore throat etc. Not only does it improve immunity and ward off infections but also promote liver and kidney functions.
Haldi Side Effects:
Although intake of haldi is considered safe in measured quantities and doesn’t show up any reported side effects. An excess of it can cause some symptoms including dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. In some patients, intake of a very high dose of turmeric extract, about 1500 mg a day has also reported an abnormal heart rhythm. In rare cases, turmeric can also cause allergic reactions including breathing difficulties, skin rashes, hives, burning sensation and itching. Although turmeric improves digestion and gall bladder, quite often in some people, an excess of it has shown alter indications like gastric irritation, acute cholecystitis, gallstones, and cholangitis.
Women, who are pregnant or trying to conceive, should also avoid consuming turmeric without doctor’s consultation as it can act as a uterine stimulant and increase the activity of the uterine smooth muscles thereby resulting in premature uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, and even miscarriage.
This humble golden yellow powder is known since time immemorial for its extensive therapeutic properties and culinary uses. Thanks to the goodness of the essential bio-active ingredients and the array of amazing health benefits, turmeric is widely used for promoting digestion, regulating diabetes, boosting immunity, treating ulcers and wounds, preventing oral problems, enhancing skin qualities, diminishing hair woes and many more.