Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It is commonly used in Asian food. We know turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavour or colour curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine. It contains a yellow-coloured chemical called curcumin, which is often used to colour foods and cosmetics.
Turmeric is native to India and Southeast Asia, where it has been popular in cuisines for several thousand years. In addition to its culinary use, turmeric has remained a mainstay herb in botanical medicine, with medical usage going back thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition.
The origin of the name is uncertain, possibly deriving from Middle English/early modern English as turmeryte or tarmaret. There was speculation that it may be of Latin origin, terra merita (merited earth). The name of the genus, Curcuma, is from an Arabic name of both saffron and turmeric (see Crocus).
It was first used as a dye, and then later for its medicinal properties. It is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, diarrhoea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue.
Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, and gum disease.