Turmeric as an aromatic medicinal plant was known to Indians since ancient times. Many scientists and historians argue that the South Asia is the original home of Turmeric, from there it might have spread to countries in the South East Asia and pacific islands where Turmeric is cultivated. It was recorded that turmeric was grown wildly in the forest regions of Java, Indonesia as early as 5th century AD. There are Sanskrit texts belong to 5 and 6th centuries AD describe the usages of turmeric. Marco Polo mention the usages of Turmeric in China. Turmeric is widely cultivated mainly in India , China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Java, Brazil, Peru, many parts of Africa and Australia.
Turmeric is known in different names across the world. It is widely reported that the word Turmeric might have originated from the Latin word Terra Meritta which means sacred soil. Also the word Turmeric could have originated from its metallic look and is commonly called Saffron in many parts of the world. In India it is known by different names in different languages such as Manjal in Tamil and Malayalam, Arishina in Kannada, Pasupu in Telugu, Haladi in Sanskrit and Haldi in Hindi and many other North Indian languages.
Turmeric is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to 1meter tall with many branches with yellow to orange, cylindrical, aromatic rhizomes. The leaves are alternate and arranged in two rows. They are divided into leaf sheath, petiole, and leaf blade. From the leaf sheaths, a false stem is formed. The rhizomes are the most widely used part of the plant as cooking ingredient, medicine and color dye though the leaves and the stems are used for many purposes mainly cooking.
The most important chemical components of turmeric are a group of compounds called curcuminoids, which include curcumin (diferuloylmethane), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The best-studied compound is curcumin, which is a main ingredient in powdered turmeric. Turmeric also has many important volatile oils include turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene. Oil and oleo resins extracted from Turmeric are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry.
Turmeric has nearly 40 different genres and 400 species. The most common varieties of Turmeric are Curcumin longa, Curcuma aromatica, curcuma amada, curcuma algustifolia, curcucuma zidoria
The oleoresin extracted from Turmeric is widely used in cooking to give attractive colors to the dishes. The resin is of thick oily in nature and is deep brown in color. The oleoresin contains 30-40% curcumin and 15-20% curcumin oil
Turmeric oil is produced by distilling turmeric powder which consists of many Ketons and alcohols . R Termeron and Termeron are the Ketons which give turmeric its colour and flavor.
In India Turmeric is an integral ingredient in most of the Vedic rituals. It is an essential ingredient in many medicines prepared under the Indian systems of medicines such as Ayurveda, Siddha and also many ethnic and folk medicinal practices. In many communities Turmeric has always been part of rituals and ceremonies related to fertility and wellbeing for human beings and nature. Many Indian traditions believe that Turmeric is a “divine plant” given to human beings by Gods.
In the great Ayurvedic medical texi books such as Charaka Samhita, Susrutha Samhita, Vaagbhada Samhita and Haritha Samhithas , Turmeric is recommended in a number of medical preparations. Though turmeric has been used as a favorite antibiotic and de toxic agent to cure burns, cuts and to eliminate foreign substances from the body, it is highly recommended to use it in the cooking for daily intake as a disease prevention measure , for adding color and taste to the food. A daily intake of food with turmeric is something almost every Indian tradition recommends to control for the prevention of many body disorders and diseases.
India produces nearly 94% of the total turmeric production in the world and it enjoys nearly 50% of the global market. Turmeric grown in the Western Ghats is considered as the finest variety though Africa, Indonesia and South America also produce good quality Turmeric.