Turmeric (curcuma longa) is being touted as an ingredient that not only helps spice up curry dishes, but also adds potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the diet. If you enjoy Indian cuisine, you’re probably familiar with this super spice.
The western medical community has been doing research into turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially curcumin, a compound that gives turmeric its dark yellow color, and its potential in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. But in the East, turmeric has long been used for medicinal purposes.
Turmeric is from a perennial shrub originating in south and southeastern Asia and western India. In India, it was first used as a dye and then as a spice. It has been used in Indian ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for years for the treatment of inflammatory and digestive disorders.
There is a long list of skin care benefits associated with turmeric, including the treatment of acne blemishes, blackheads, dark spots and hyper-pigmentation and other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It helps heal and prevent dry skin, and to slow the skin aging process, and is used to diminish wrinkles, keep skin supple and improve skin’s elasticity. This sunny bright spice is also being used as an ingredient in sunscreens. It is used daily by East Indian women as a facial cleanser and exfoliant.
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The Royal Treatment
The spice is also used in bridal beautification ceremonies in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Turmeric is used in southern India as part of the marriage ritual. On the wedding day, the string of the Thali necklace (Mangalsutra), which is the equivalent of a wedding ring, is prepared in turmeric paste, dried and then tied around the bride’s neck by the groom. In the palaces of Central Java, Indonesia, the root was used during Lulur, an ancient royal ceremony for the bride-to-be, in a ritual to cleanse the body and give it a radiant glow. Hindu brides-to-be rub a mixture of turmeric and gram flour on their bodies on the morning of their wedding to give the skin a golden glow.
Turmeric – A Sacred Spice
Turmeric was also used in religious rites in both ancient India and China. Turmeric is still used during many traditional Indian celebrations. It is used in Hindu rituals, and as dye for holy robes, as well as saris and other Indian clothing. In the Holi, a Hindu spring festival, turmeric paste is applied to the skin as a body ornament.