Plant Power: Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomateous herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the same family as ginger, Zingiberaceae. Native to South Asia, a documented 133 species of Curcuma have been identified around the world. The plant grows 5-6 feet high in tropical regions like ours and produces a trumpet-shaped yellow flower. The rhizome grows underground and is what is most often used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Turmeric is most commonly used in cooking and gives Indian curry its vibrant yellow color and bold taste. It contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin and has a number of different medicinal qualities. High in antioxidants and other medicinal properties, it has been used for over 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions from infections to inflammation to digestive disorders. Research has shown that turmeric may be helpful in treating the following conditions: indigestion, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, osteoarthritis, heart disease, cancer, bacterial or viral infections, uveitis, and neurodegenerative conditions, amongst others.
In this part of the world, turmeric is also being studied as a natural treatment for chikungunya, a mosquito-born viral infection that is found on the island and in Nicaragua at large. To use, the roots should be boiled and then dried, turning into a bright yellow powder.
Turmeric is one of two medicinal plants we have started planting for our Farm-to-Clinic medicinal herb project and we’re excited for all of its herbal potential!
Turmeric, or cúrcuma, planted in the medicinal garden