Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavour with a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. While it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow colour.
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric is sometimes called "Indian saffron" because of its deep yellow-orange colour and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.
The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike these pharmaceutical drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.
Research suggests Curcumin may provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.
Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared, in effectiveness, to the drug phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking ti