Like so many long-time, beloved botanicals, turmeric has been used as a base for food and medicine - and even cosmetics.
Turmeric is also presented as a gift. Dried and powdered turmeric powder, mixed with slaked lime to give it a red color, is called "kumkum". It is offered to elderly women as a sign of respect or to young girls as a blessing as they leave a home. Kumkum is also used in worship of the Hindu goddesses Lakshmi and Shakti.
These days, curcumin and turmeric are known by many names (or variations of these names) in different languages worldwide. Of course, some of them sound pretty close to the original, like "kurkum" in Arabic, "kourkoumas" in Greek, "tamerikku" in Japanese, or "gurkemeje" in Danish. The fact that this amazing ingredient is so widely spread is a true testimony to its popularity and effectiveness.
When used in Ayurvedic medicine, curcumin has been a preferred treatment for many inflammatory diseases, including asthma, allergies, rheumatism, sinusitis, cough, and diabetes. It has been used to treat sprains and muscle pain. While these treatments have been well-documented in India, it's worth noting that they mirror much of the research and clinical studies currently being conducted there and around the world. It's common to find curcumin as a main ingredient in laboratory and clinical studies of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer's, and depression. In China, curcumin was traditionally used to treat abdominal pain, which again, mirrors its effectiveness seen in cases of intestinal bowel syndrome (IBS).
It's also interesting to note that throughout all of the treatments, from traditional uses to double-blind placebo tests, curcumin has an incredible safety record. Whether used in high doses, or in concentrated extracts, it has shown no toxicity. Because curcumin has such a positive record in healing a variety of conditions, it may easily become the one ingredient we share worldwide every day - and that's a long way from its original home in India!