Today, one of the biggest changes that you can find in modern society is a reliance on nature. Having relied upon chemical concoctions and synthetic solutions to a number of health issues, today people are turning to more natural solutions. This has led to a large number of people discovering numerous natural products which are very good for us. Many of these products, though, are things we have simply never heard of before. That has led to quite an interesting dynamic built around the use of natural, organic products today. More and more people realise that quick-fix solutions often do not work.
With that in mind, then, it should be no surprise that turmeric – a flowering plant that is part of the ginger family – is so highly-regarded as a natural aid. While many dispute how effect it is for dealing with disease and illness, it is a long-term proponent of Ayurvedic medicinal treatments. What, though, are the origins of this particular spice?
This perennial plant is native to Southeast Asia, and needs both high temperatures and high rainfall to make sure it can survive. It has been consumed and used by Indian people and many other Asian cultures for centuries. Today, it is commonly used to add flavour to products and foods, but it also has many other uses outside of this.
Turmeric, though, has a rather interesting history. How did we come to realis that this product – a well-regarded food additive – was so beneficial?
A product of tropical Asia
The first thing to note about turmeric is that it is mostly found in Asian countries. The most prominent place that you will find turmeric (and other plants in the Curcuma species) is in India. Some 40-plus species like this exist in India alone. In Thailand, over 30 different species of this plant exist. Tropical Asian countries are often locations where you can find large quantities of this particular plant.
The product itself, then, has been commonly found within Asian cultures for centuries. It should come as no surprise, then, that Asian cultures have also used this plant for much of that time. indeed, if you look into traditional Asian medicinal practices such as Unani, Chinese traditional medicines, and Ayurvedic medicines, you can find that turmeric has a pretty high usage and recommendation rate.
It is easy to see why, too; this is a product that has been used as everything from a dye to a food additive to a natural medicinal aide. It was first, though, used as a dye due to that rich and strong colour that comes from turmeric. This made it excellent for dying clothing and banners, making it useful for creating distinctive clothing and other garments.
In terms of its first origins, though, most of history points to Indian cultures being the most common users of this product, to begin with. Over time, that changed, but its first origins of being used as an actual product stem back to Indian culture.
The growth of turmeric to today
From there, it was commonly used across Southeast Asian countries that held Buddhist and/or Hindu belief systems. That strong yellow dye colour was used to help give monks and priests distinctive clothing that would ensure they stood out from the rest of their people.
However, turmeric has also have been found to use in parts of Polynesia and Micronesia long before any contact with India was made. So, it was likely that it has been domesticated in other parts of the world at the same time as its massive growth in India.
Alongside being used as a dye product, turmeric has a long history of being used in medicinal products going back thousands of years. Indeed, pots that were found from as far back as 2500BCE have found to include mixtures of garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Since 500BCE, it has been a crucial part of Ayurvedic medicinal healing.
It was used for everything from decongesting the body to dealing with skin conditions like shingles and skin blemishes. Indeed, it has over 100 different terms when you look through numerous Ayurvedic healing literature.
Seen as a sacred good within Hindu religion, the origins of turmeric go back thousands of years. From its use as a powerful dye product to its use in cooking and natural medicine, it has a significant number of uses across numerous cultures. While today it might hold a huge amount of prestige among fad cooking and natural healing circles, turmeric has a proven range of uses that go far beyond recent years.
It is even a part of wedding day tradition for some when a piece of string – dyed yellow using turmeric – is placed around the neck of the bridge by the groom. This is, in some cases, used in a similar exchange as some might hand over a wedding ring in western cultures.
From its origins as a dye to its use in modern times, then, it is clear to see that turmeric has many uses. While many of its uses today are still being researched, this is a natural plant with thousands of years of history.