Sabtu, 20 April 2013


TURMERIC (Curcuma longa L.)

Scientific name : Curcuma longa L.
Synonym : Curcuma domestica Val.
Common name : Turmeric
Local Malay Name: Kunyit
Common names according to respective countries:
Arabic = Hurd, Kurkum, Timmer (Egypt), Uqdah Safra
Chinese = Yü Chiu, Yu Chiu, Yu Jin (Yu Chin)
English = Common Turmeric, Curcuma, Turmeric, Yellow Ginger
French = Souchet Des Indes, Terre-Mérite
German = Gelbwurz, Gilber Ingwer, Gilbwurzel, Indischer Safran, Kurkuma
Hindi = Haldi, Haldii (Haldi)
Japanese = Taamerikku, Tamerikku, Ukon
Korean = Kang-Hwang, Keol-Ku-Ma, Keolkuma, Kolkuma, Sim-Hwang
Malay = Kunyit, Kunyit Basah, Kunyit Betul
Spanish = Azafrán De La India, Azafrán Arabe, Cúrcuma, Turmérico
Tamil = Manjal
Thai = Kamin, Kha Mîn, Kha Mîn Chan (Central Thailand), Kha Mîn Hua (Chiang Mai)

Family : Zingiberaceae

Curcuma longa is locally known by the Malaysian as kunyit. Turmeric is one of the oldest and most important and valuable herb spice to humankind. It has been used traditionally since 600 B.C., as food flavouring, as a dye, in folk medicine and for religious and ritual ceremonies. The herb has its origins in Southeast Asia and also can be found growing in Tropical Africa and India. The plant is currently cultivated commercially in China, India, Indochina and Indonesia. In Malaysia, Turmeric is only grown for the domestic market and is commonly cultivated in home garden of every home for daily use.

Turmeric grows in the tropics where the climate is warm and moist, with an annual rainfall of 1000 to 2000 m. The plant grows best at an elevation of 450 to 900 m, but it can also be cultivated up to an elevation of 2000 m. The herb prefers a well-drained loamy soil, with a pH of 5 to 7.5 and also with high organic matter under sunlight. Turmeric is propagated asexually through rhizome cuttings of which at least one bud or protruding shoot is present. After 9 to 10 months of planting, the rhizomes can be harvested.

Morphological Description

Turmeric is a perennial herb which grows to a height of about 1 m with a short pseudostem. The pseudostem is formed by the long petioles of leaf sheaths. The leaves are aromatic, light green and alternately arranged. The leaves are glabrous, elliptical-lanceolate in shape with an entire margin. The leaf apice is acuminate and the base sheathing. The length of the leaf is about 30 cm long and 10 cm board.

The inflorescences are borne apical to the leaf shoot. The inflorescence is cone or oblong in shape, 10-15 cm long and 5-7 cm wide. Inflorescences are made up of light-green to whitish bracts which are layered arranged. Only one white with yellowish centred flower will blossom at every bract’s axil. At the base of the pseudostem is a swollen fleshy white tuber which grows vertically downwards. The rhizomes arise from the tuber and branch out at right angle as secondary rhizomes and later produce more branches to form a dense clump. The rhizomes are aromatic, cylindrical and fleshy with orange-brown skin and dark-yellow to bright orange pulp.
Anatomical Description
The general anatomy of the members of the Zingiberaceae Family are the plants are with silica bodies. Accumulated starch other than exclusively ‘pteridophyte type’. The epidermis of the leaf contain silica bodies (spherical). The mesophyll with spherical etherial oil cells which contain calcium oxalate crystals. The mesophyll crystals druses, or solitary-prismatic (no raphides). Minor leaf veins are without vessels. The stem anatomy are without secondary thickening and and without vessels (mostly). The root xylem have vessels. Vessel end-walls scalariform (nearly always), or scalariform and simple (occasionally).

The table below shows the scientific classification of C. longa or turmeric.
Scientific Classification
Vascular plants
Seed plants
Flowering plants
Ginger family
Curcuma longa
common turmeric

Chemical Constituents of Turmeric
The rhizome of turmeric is edible. It yields about 2 to 7% of orange-red essential oil. The main constituents of the rhizome are turmeron, zingiberene, arturmerone and also contain oleoresin. Oleoresin contains curcumin which gives turmeric its yellow-orange colour and have antioxidant properties. The essential oil in the rhizome gives it aroma and flavour. The table below summarizes the nutritional value per 100 g of rhizome.
Turmeric (rhizome)
Nutritional value per 100 g
. Energy 335.0 kcal 1340 kJ ……… ……
14.2 g
2.3 g
5.0 g
3.2 g
5.2 g
146.0 mg
284 mg
18.6 mg
32 mg
67.0 μg
Retinol equivalents
11.0 μg
Vitamin B1
0.03 mg
Vitamin B2
0.12 mg
2.3 mg
Culinary uses
Turmeric is well known among the Malaysian community and it has been used since hundreds of years ago for many purposes. The Malay and Indians use the rhizome as a condiment in cooking to add fragrance, falvour and a yellow colour in their dishes. The spice ingredient for curry contain approximately 20-30% of turmeric. The young rhizomes of turmeric are sliced and eaten fresh as ulam dipped in sambal belacan. Sometimes the young shoots and flowers are also used as ulam. The broad aromatic leaves of turmeric are sold in bundles in the local markets. These leaves are used for many purpose such as in making rendang and also in wrapping fish before steaming or baking. The leaves are used in India to prepare a special medicinal herbal bread.

The rhizome is used as a colouring agent in the food industry for processed food, sauces and confectionery. Turmeric is also used to protect food products from sunlight.
Uses in traditional medicine
Turmeric being as one of the members of the Zingiberaceae family, has been frequently used in tradistional madicine. Turmeric is one of the several kinds pf plants which are blended to make Jamu, which is a traditional Javanese herbal medicine from Indonesia. Jamu which contain turmeric as one of it ingredients, are use for example by women in confinement after birth. In traditional medicine, the rhizome is used in treating a number of aliments. The rhizome boiled with milk and sugar is used to relieve colds. The rhizome boiled with garlic and onion is used for treating flatulence in children and diarrhoea and dysentery. A poultice of the rhizome is applied to the breast of lacting mothers to stimulate milk flow. The rhizome can also be used to aid digestion, treat infections of urino-genital system, stomach problems and pains in the chest and back. Turmeric prepared with oil is used to smoothen rough skin, and with lime, it is used to treat bruises, sprains and wonds. The underground stem is used to treat irregular mensturation. It is also taken to stimulate the production of red blood cells, dissolve blood clots, arrest bleeding and treat jaundice.
Traditionally the rhizome is also used to treat cancer, inflammation, kidney stones, worms, malaria, scabies, rheumatism, and also it stimulates bile secration, lowers cholestrol levels, relieves postpartum pain, removes gallstones and treat angina pectoris (chest pains). To date there is no record of adverse effect of turmeric on health.
Medicinal uses and pharmacology of turmeric
Turmeric is reported to possess anticarcinogenic, anticoagulant, antihepatotoxic, antimutagenic/ DNA protecting and antioxidative. This plant has been found to contain volatile oil and curcumoids. These compounds are believed to be the active ingredients of turmeric. Recent research on turmeric has indicated that the rhizome is pharmaceutically active against a number of illnesses such as cancer, dermatitis, AIDS, inflammation, high cholestrol levels and dyspeptic conditions. A recent study involving mice has shown that turmeric slows the spread of breast cancer into the lungs and other body parts. Turmeric also enhances the effect of taxol in reducing metastasis of breast cancer. Below are diseases which turmeric may be helpful based on research that has been done.
1) Digestive Disorders
The German Commission E which is an authoritative body that determined which herbs could be safely prescribed in that country and for which purpose(s) approved turmeric for a variety of digestive disorders such as stomach upset, gas and abdo. Curcumin, for example, is one of the active ingredients in turmeric, induces the flow of bile which helps break down fats.
2) Osteoarthritis

Turmeric may help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis because of its ability to reduce inflammation. A study of people using an Ayurvedic formula of herbs and minerals containing turmeric, Withinia somnifera (winter cherry), Boswellia serrata (Boswellia), and zinc significantly reduced pain and disability, but it is difficult to know how much of this success is from turmeric alone, one of the other individual herbs, or the combination of herbs working in tandem.
3) Atherosclerosis

Turmeric may prove helpful in preventing the build up of atherosclerosis which is blockage of arteries that can eventually cause a heart attack or stroke. In animal studies an extract of turmeric lowered cholesterol levels and inhibited the oxidation of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Oxidized LDL deposits in the walls of blood vessels and contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque.

4) Cancer
Evidence from laboratory and animal studies suggests that curcumin has potential in the treatment of various forms of cancer, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon.

5) Roundworms and Intestinal worms

Laboratory studies suggest that curcuminoids, may reduce the destructive activity of parasites or roundworms.
6) Liver Disease

Animal studies provide evidence that turmeric can protect the liver from a number of damaging substances such as paracetamol which is used commonly for headache and pain that can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities or in someone who drinks alcohol regularly. Turmeric helps to clear such toxins from the body and by protecting the liver from damage.

7) Bacterial Infection
Turmeric's volatile oil functions as an external antibiotic which prevent bacterial infection in wounds.

8) Eye Disorder
One study of 32 people with uveitis (inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye between the sclera [white outer coat of the eye] and the retina [the back of the eye]) suggests that curcumin may prove to be as effective as corticosteroids, the type of medication generally prescribed for this eye disorder. The uvea contains many of the blood vessels that nourish the eye. Inflammation of this area, therefore, can affect the cornea, the retina, the sclera, and other important parts of the eye. More research is needed to best understand whether curcumin may help treat this eye inflammation.

Cosmetics uses
The rhizome is used as a cosmetic by women. The rhizome is made into a paste with an oil base and applied to smoothen the skin and preserved a youthful complexion, which in Malay is referred to as awet muda.

Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sunscreens. Colourless compounds which called isolate tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC) can be extracted from turmeric. These compounds might have antioxidant and skin-lightening properties and might be used to treat skin inflammations, and thus making these compounds useful in cosmetics formulations.
Other uses

This herb is also used as an insecticide, fungicide and nematicide.

Commercial production of Turmeric
Turmeric has wide potential especially in herbal industry. Locally, turmeric is sold as fresh and dried rhizome and also in the powdered form. These rhizomes are mainly used for flavoring curries and used in ritual ceremonies. The commercial use of turmeric in herbal remedies is becoming popular. Example of product from turmeric are Jamu, turmeric lotion and oil and also can be made into face cream. Most of the turmeric used locally is imported. Currently the major producers of raw turmeric is Chaina, India and Indonesia.
At global level, certain companies have captured and synthesized some of turmeric important medicinal properties and compounds and are marketing their products as dietary supplements and herbal remedies.
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Ismail Saidin. 2000. Sayuran tradisional ulam dan penyedap rasa. Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Rukayah Aman. 2000. Ulam dan sayuran tempatan Semenanjung Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Samy, J., Sugumaran, M. & Lee, K.LW. 2005. Herbs of Malaysia: an introduction to the medicinal, culinary, aromatic and cosmetic use of herbs. Wong, L.W. (pnyt.). Shah Alam: Times Edition.

Wan Hassan, W.E. 2007. Healing Herbs of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Federal Land Development Autrority (FELDA).

Wikipedia. 2009. Turmeric. [19 January 2009]

University of Maryland Medical Center. 2008. Turmeric. [20 January 2009]

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