Close up of cut turmeric roots

Turmeric is native to India and Southeast Asia. It was spread around the world initially as a dye. It spread along with Hinduism and Buddhism because the Monks and Priests used it to dye their robes with it.

In Northern India, turmeric is known as Haldi from Sanskrit and in the south it is known as Manjal from Tamil. It's funny that there are many local Indian names for it all over India that mean fickle or betrayer because the dye is very bright but not colorfast and quickly fades. That's why priests and monks had to continually dye their robes.

Turmeric was used for luck. It hung in kitchens and small rhizomes were sometimes tied to pots.

It was associated with Lord Krishna, a Hindu divinity, because he is normally depicted as dressed in yellow. 

In Hinduism it was considered sacred and auspicious. For instance, brides would wear a yellow string dyed with a paste of turmeric which was called a mangala sutra. Auspicious thread in Sanskrit. This showed that they were married and could run a household. This has developed, largely by the hand of tradesmen and jewelers, into gold and diamond necklaces currently called mangala sutras.

In some parts of Southern India, people would wear turmeric root as an amulet to ward off evil spirits.

It is used in color magic. Yellow is associated with abundance and happiness and Gold with the energy of the sun.

It was used in spells for healing, strength and vitality.


Benefits of Turmeric

It is used in Ayurvedic, Unani and other Asian medical systems, for its healing properties as far back as 4,000 years. Unani is a more recent system of Persian/Arabic origin.

Some uses mentioned were:

  • It was used internally and externally for snake bites and Leprosy
  • Helped vomiting associated with pregnancy
  • Helped with PMS and menstrual cramps
  • Used to improve memory
  • Helped people breathe better
  • Helped clear up discomfort in the head and aches in the muscles and joints
  • Helped with the eyes
  • Made people relax and improved mood
  • Helped with burns, wounds and lung irritations
  • Digestion and the healing of the tissues of the digestive system
  • Clears up skin from pimples

Currently there are studies found on the NIH website that say Turmeric:

  • Helps heal ulcerations in the digestive tract
  • Lowers histamine levels, helps the adrenals make natural cortisone and inhibits other factors that cause uncomfortable over reactions of the immune system and other healing factors
  • Is a potent antioxidant that offsets damage done by excess sugar and supports beta cells
  • Can help you keep your figure
  • Protects liver by indirectly increasing glutathione levels which enable the liver to flush mutagens and carcinogens and increase Nitric Oxide by reducing nitrosamine formation
  • Also it gets bile flowing which helps digest food and carry waste products from the liver out through the intestines as well as preventing possible clogs in the gall bladder
  • Increases the efficiency of fat metabolism which keeps the bloodcleaner, prevents free radicals and keeps blood cells from sticking together which improves circulation

Turmeric Constituents

The most studied ingredient of turmeric is curcumin, as you know. It is what gives it its color and is credited as being the source of all its health benefits. But you know what I am going to say about that if you have ever read any other blogs I have written. Isolating one substance is not the same as using the whole plant. Nature's recipe is a synergistic combination of many compounds.

The compounds considered important in turmeric are called curcuminoids. There are three main ones. Curcumin or diferuloylmethane, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. 

Curcumin is a pretty compound. It is symmetric with 2 rings attached by 7 carbons the two center ones having double bonds to oxygens. On each of the rings are an OH and OCH3.

The demethoxy (the 2nd compound mentioned) means that one OCH3 is removed and the bisdemethoxy means that both are removed. So all three are very similar, but in biochemistry one little difference can make the function totally different but they probably work together. 

Sodium curcuminate, a salt of curcumin, is also included. It is what creates the effect on the bile that was mentioned.

Turmeric also containsvolatile oils including tumerone, atlantone, and zingiberone. There are also sugars, proteins and resins. It also contains minerals, especially manganese and iron. It contains lubricating fats as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. And most likely much more. The volatile oils account for 10% and curcumin only 5%.

The fact that it contains both water soluble and fat soluble things would make it very hard to digest. Also it has large molecules so it would be more likely to break down before getting to the intestines. And it would have trouble getting through the openings in the intestinal wall out into the bloodstream if it did get that far. Especially true for curcumin because of its shape. It would tend to break in half or lose the last ring.

The Absorption of Turmeric

This may be why turmeric is never really used alone as a spice, but is used in curries which are mixtures with other spices that help with its digestion. Ginger in these curries seems to be important for this. They are in the same family. I like to think that even on the molecular level, family helps each other.

Fenugreek or Chalma, as the Armenians call it, also helps turmeric make it to the intestines intact. It has soluble fiber that protects the turmeric compounds from digestion in the stomach and adds its own medicinal power to the mix as well. 

Peppers also help get the large molecules found in turmeric through the holes in the intestinal wall by affecting the surface tensions of both the openings and the compounds so one slips through the other. I guess that would be considered a lubricant.

It helps the heart, thelungs, the liver and it heals up the extremely important digestive system and the practically forgottengallbladder, which holds and releases the bile made by the liver. It boosts and also holds back any overreaction of the immune system and makes the comfort that can improveone's thinking and mood. 

Its only drawback is that it needs help to get into the bloodstream intact. At Herbal Roots our formula was made with this in mind with:

  • 1300 mg of Organic Turmeric root per capsule. (Technically rhizome for any botany people) 
  • 150mg of 95% Standardized Curcuminoids.
  • 50 mg of Organic Ginger Root (Rhizome)
  • 10mg Black Pepper Extract (BioPerine®)
  • Organic vegan capsules and nothing else!

A well seasoned customer told us that this is the best Turmeric supplement that she ever took and I believe it.

Check out our blog for a more in depth History of Turmeric.

We also have a delicious and nutritious Turmeric Golden Milk!


Rosalie Roder got her Bachelors' degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Mary Baldwin University in 1983. After graduation, with that background, her real education on natural health and healing and human potential began. It is a never ending study and she is always happy to share what she has found out so far.