Turmeric is botanically known as Curcuma longa and it is a relative of Ginger. It is the root of the turmeric plant that is used as a spice, usually in a powdery form. The fresh turmeric root is used and stored much like ginger. India produces nearly all the world’s turmeric, and consumes 80% of that crop.
Turmeric is seen as an excellent natural antibiotic, while at the same time it strengthens digestion and helps improve intestinal flora. As such it is a good anti-bacterial for those chronically weak or ill. It not only purifies the blood, but also warms it and stimulates formation of new blood tissue. It aids in the digestion of protein.
Several scientific researches are being conducted on curcumin, an extract of turmeric, studying its effects on Alzheimer’s Disease – this disease is characterized by the buildup of amyloid protein “plaques” within the brain. In studies in rats, curcumin “not only reduces the amyloid, but also reduces the (brain’s) response to the amyloid”. In view of its efficacy and apparent low toxicity, this Indian spice component shows promise for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. If you are interested on learning more about this a Google search “Alzheimer+turmeric” will give you several interesting links on the subject.
It is an important ingredient in curry mixes, chutney, and mustard pickles. It also goes well with chicken, duck, turkey, vegetables, rice, and salad dressing. Avoid touching your clothing when working with turmeric. It is a powerful yellow dye. A good reference for cooking is to substitute 1 teaspoon dry mustard for 1 teaspoon of turmeric.