Uses for Curcuma Longa

The curcuma longa plant, found in parts of Asia and the Caribbean, is best known for producing tumeric--created by grinding the roots of the plant into the bright yellow powder frequently used in Asian cuisine. While tumeric is often used to flavor and color foods, and is a main ingredient of many curries, there are also medicinal uses for the spice. People who want to use tumeric and have a medical condition should consult their healthcare provider before use. Pregnant women should avoid taking a tumeric supplement, and, because tumeric may increase bleeding, a person should stop using it two weeks before any surgical procedure.

Tumeric in Food

Due to its bright yellow color, tumeric is widely employed as a natural food coloring. It is the spice that causes both the color, and the distinct taste of many curry dishes. It is also responsible for the color of some prepared mustard, stews and sauces. Tumeric has a savory flavor and mild aroma, with underlying tastes of pepper and ginger.

Digestion

Tumeric may be useful for digestive disorders, including indigestion, because it has the ability to stimulate the digestive system. It induces the gall bladder to excrete bile, which may increase normal digestive functions and aid in the bodies effectiveness in digesting fats. Tumeric also eases the discomfort or pain associated with indigestion by reducing gas and bloating.

Anti-Inflammatory Use

For a person suffering from conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the anti-inflammatory properties of tumeric may prove beneficial. The pigment in tumeric responsible for its color, curcumin, holds anti-inflammatory properties. Tumeric blocks the immune cells that cause inflammation in the joints, without altering the effectiveness of the infection fighting immune cells. Other inflammatory disorders, such as asthma, may also show improvement, as tumeric reduces inflammation in the mucous membranes of the throat and lungs.

Menstrual Cramps

The lower abdominal cramps common during menstruation are caused by the contraction of the uterine muscles. Tumeric contains anti-spasmodic properties that are useful in relieving these cramps by relaxing the muscles, easing the pain and discomfort associated with menstrual cramps.