TYPES OF TURMERIC
Turmeric (scientific name: Curcuma Longa) is part of the ginger family Zingiberaceae which is mainly used for its rhizome or root. It is regarded as the Golden Herb and used in various cuisines for its spicy flavour, its pungent yet appealing fragrance and bright yellow colour. It has over 300 health benefits and has been used since ages in the traditional system of Indian medicine, Ayurveda as well as Chinese medicine. The medicinal extract of Turmeric, also known as Curcumin, makes turmeric an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent. Due to these properties, consuming turmeric, especially curcumin, can prove highly beneficial to the body.
Turmeric has around 130 varieties in which Madras Turmeric is the most popular and widely available. Alleppey Turmeric, the second most popular variety, is preferred by chefs for its flavour since it is closest to fresh turmeric.
The varieties of Turmeric are named after the places they grow in. Other lessen known varieties are Pragati, Kedaram, Prathibha, Prabha, Suguna, Sudharshana, Suvarna etc. India is the largest producer and consumer of Turmeric in the world. Around 80% of Turmeric grown in India is consumed within the country itself. Erode, a city in Tamil Nadu, is the largest hub for producing and trading in Turmeric and is also known as “Yellow city” or “Turmeric city”. Sangli, in Maharashtra, comes a close second.
Sahdeo Prasad and Bharat B. Aggarwal., Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 13Turmeric, the Golden Spice
How to consume turmeric?
Turmeric can be consumed in several forms. The most popular forms are turmeric capsules, turmeric powder, turmeric teas, turmeric juices & turmeric tablets. Turmeric blended with milk, water is also a good way to consume turmeric. But such ways contain very little traces of curcumin (a major ingredient of turmeric). Turmeric supplements with Curcumin extracts are best to derive health benefits.
|Local Haldi or Madras Haldi||Unique Yellow color and flavour|
|Thodopuza||Used for preservation of food|
|China scented||Superior quality of Turmeric for its fragrance|
|Red streaked||Has distinctive colour and aroma|
|Alleppey||Flavour of fresh turmeric root|
|Alleppey||Finger Kerala||Recognized for flavour|
|Erode and Salem Turmeric||Tamil Nadu||Used in various cuisines|
|Rajapore and Sangli||Maharashtra||Average variety of Turmeric|
|Nizamabad Bulb||Andhra Pradesh||Various health benefits/used as powder|
You might have heard about Curcuma Longa (yellow turmeric) but what about Curcuma Aromatica or Wild Turmeric. Let us understand the properties of this variety also known as Musk Turmeric. Some other names of this species are 'vana haridra', 'kasturi manjal', 'pasuppu' etc. and it consists of compounds like alpha-curcumene (ar-curcumene), beta curcumene, d-camphor, alpha and beta-turmerone. Wild turmeric has a very low percentage of curcumin and curcuminoids and is mainly used in cosmetics. Curcuma longa has a higher anti-oxidant and volatile oil content as compared to Curcuma Aromatica or wild turmeric. The curcumin content of Curcuma longa is also 10 times that of wild turmeric.
ESSENTIAL OIL IN WILD TURMERICThe specific oils found in wild turmeric are: alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, 1,8-cineol,isofurano-germacrene, borneol, isoborneol, beta-curcumene, ar-curcumene, xanthorrhizol, germacrone and curzerenone.
The presence of Camphene and camphor makes wild turmeric develop a camphor like odor and thus it is also known as camphor aromatica. .
DIFFERENT FORMS OF TURMERIC AND CURCUMIN
We see a number of products containing turmeric or curcumin in the market. They come in different forms and are for different uses. Let’s look at the common market forms of this spice:
This is supposed to be the purest form of turmeric as it is unprocessed. However, these days due to the high market demand for curcumin extract, raw turmeric does not contain too much curcumin. Most raw turmeric found in the market is devoid of its curcumin extract as these are taken out and sold in extract form. This is the primary reason why the raw turmeric we get today does not have any medicinal effect on our body. It should only be used for its colour, flavour and fragrance. Further, raw turmeric does not get easily absorbed in the body as it requires a high percentage of fats that need to be consumed along with it. Alternatively, it needs to be consumed with other herbs or spices in the right mix to increase its bio-availability so it can have the desired effect on our health.
2.Turmeric Essential Oil:
These oils are heavily processed and contain only a small percentage of raw turmeric or curcumin. They should be used for its colour and fragrance or for cosmetic uses such as skin improvement. It can also be used as an anti-bacterial on wounds or to clear the nasal cavity if it has a pungent smell.
Turmeric powder is made from ground turmeric and comes in various grades. Only the highest quality or grade A powder has curcuminoids or a high percentage of curcumin present in it which can be used for medicinal purposes. Turmeric powder has extensive culinary uses in Asia, especially in India, for its flavour and colour. But the powder commonly available as a spice or grocery item does not have any effect on our health and is only used for cooking.
The awareness of health benefits of consuming supplements is being rapidly understood by people. Turmeric or Curcumin capsules are made using turmeric powder or curcumin extract. These have many health benefits the primary being that of an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunity enhancer. It is highly recommended to cancer patients as well. We need to be very careful while choosing turmeric or curcumin capsules and need to ensure the following:
a. It certified by the government of the country of manufacturing
b. It has been tested for heavy metals and pesticides
c. It contains only Grade A turmeric and curcumin
d. The potency of the extract (ideally 95% curcuma longa)
e. The ratio between curcumin and turmeric powder Certain capsules in the market only contain turmeric powder but are devoid of curcumin extract. Be sure to check the ingredients before buying them.
5.Turmeric Paste: This is not so commonly available and is best made at home. Turmeric paste can be used in cooking, as an addition to milk, as an antiseptic for wounds, cuts and burns or for enhancing the quality of your skin as a mask.