Do you know there is a delightfully colourful ceremonial in Indian weddings called the ‘haldi ceremony’? Usually a day before, or in the morning of the wedding, ‘haldi’ (turmeric) paste is applied to the bodies of the bride and groom.
‘Haldi’ or turmeric was known and used in India for 4000 years not only as a spice but as the solution or as natural cures for many ailments. It is a symbol of blessing that possesses inherent properties to heal, purify, and protect; it drives away evils, calms nerves and soothes minds. So, when smeared with turmeric paste the couple soaks in its healing goodness. This rightness seeps inside them at the very start of their journey in life together.
No wonder the bride and the groom glow like radiant gold. Their skins smoothen magically as a golden sheen removes blemishes overnight. Turmeric’s potent power has exfoliated the dead skin cells, unclogged the skin’s pores and cleared every dirt and grime. Despite the typical Indian wedding’s long-winded and endless rituals, turmeric’s soothing properties kept the couple’s energy going, nerves calm and wits intact.
This is no fairy tale. The wonders are truly worked through turmeric’s healing and calming powers contained in its amazing ingredients. Principal among which is curcumin, or diferuloylmethane, a powerful anti-oxidant.
Though well known in Ayurveda from ancient times, turmeric is not limited to the Ayurvedic practices alone. In the nether regions of India, Nepal, China, and many Asian countries, indigenous folks – the tribes, jungle dwellers, and tillers of land, have been using the yellow spice to heal ailments for generations. By experience, these wise folks discovered turmeric’s efficacy as medicine and have come up with indigenous remedies that worked wonders, and still do, for their health and well-being.
Many scientific experiments later, turmeric’s healing properties emerged apparently proving turmeric’s health-giving properties: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial. Studies established that daily partaking of turmeric aids respiration, digestion, blood circulation, heart regulation, skin problems and even brain functions. Even a teaspoon of turmeric a day can do magic to one’s health.
The indigenous Khasi tribes-people of Meghalaya are among those that made use of turmeric as medicine, which continues to this day. In our younger days, our grandmothers would routinely treat our sore throats, coughs, and colds with a teaspoon of a semi-liquid mixture made with turmeric, ground pepper (usually a mix of long pepper and black pepper), ginger extract, mustard oil, honey, and boiling water. A teaspoon of this mixture three-four times would guarantee we’d be off and hopping about by the next day itself. Adding honey, which itself has medicinal value, makes the mixture absolutely lovable to even children.
Research has now proven that adding pepper into the turmeric mixture infuses piperine, which indeed increases the bioavailability of curcuminoids (of which Curcumin is the prime agent) in the body by 2000%. Ingested alone turmeric would have passed through the gut without being absorbed into the bloodstream. We now understand the wisdom of the ancients in combining ingredients, all of which possess individual medicinal properties.
Scientists have now established beyond doubt that turmeric is a powerful anti-oxidant. As a natural antiseptic, an antifungal and antibacterial agent it heals our wounds equally effectively like a modern drug, sans side effects.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property does wonders in the treatment of joint pains, fighting inflammation deep down to relieve the sufferer of numbing arthritic pains. Purity, however, is of inalienable importance here. This, perhaps, is the major reason it works so well for the indigenous folks. The turmeric they use is undiluted and organic.
The key ingredient is curcumin; some others are volatile oils, curcumol, curdione, and starch which also have wide-ranging pharmacological uses, aiding blood circulation, and fighting inflammation.
Beyond traditional medicine for natural cures in modern applications, turmeric is used to treat diseases of the liver, kidneys, and bladder, joint related problems like rheumatism and arthritis. It has impacted the cosmetics industry too, in the form of skin creams and lotions containing turmeric extracts.
Turmeric is known to thin blood and reduce blood pressure, so haemophiliacs, those suffering from blood disorders and people with hypertension, and pregnant women, had better avoid or restrict consumption of turmeric, except as spice.
The single, most significant factor for turmeric’s therapeutic effectiveness lay undoubtedly in organic purity and curcumin content. Some species yield curcumin content of just over 2%. But Meghalaya State’s Lakadong turmeric scores over others with the highest curcumin content of 7.4%.
Grown exclusively in a relatively remote area of the State’s West Jaintia Hills District’s Laskein block, this turmeric is purely organic and the best in the world. Despite many of its clones, Lakadong’s uniqueness has never been usurped.