Saturday, September 3, 2016

Turmeric (Luyang dilaw) Curcuma longa - Medicine-and-Spice

Luyang dilaw has outstanding medicinal properties that are a potential cure to many ailments and diseases associated with our postmodern living. 

Dr Abe V Rotor 

You may miss the plant on the farm, roadside, pasture, or the garden.  It is because it is unassuming in its vegetative stage - appearing like lily, baston de San Jose, lobster's claw, camia or any of its relatives under Family Zingiberaceae or ginger family.
Miss Jules SM Rojas poses in a garden of luyang dilaw (Curcuma longa) at home in Lagro QC. 
But no one would miss in its flowing stage, this plant universally known as tumeric,  Its flowers are typical of ginger species led by the popular Zingiber officinale or luya, no kitchen is without it.  


Luyang dilaw is a leafy plant, 1 to 1.5 meters tall, with 5 to 6 leaves. Rhizomes are bright yellow inside, thick and cylindrical. Leaf blade is green, oblong, 30 to 45 centimeters long and 10 to 20 centimeters wide. Petiole is as long as the blade. Peduncle is 15 centimeters or more in length, borne within the tuft of leaves. Spikes are 10 to 20 centimeters in length and about 5 centimeters in diameter. Floral bracts are pale green, ovate, 3 to 4 centimeters long, the comabracts tinged with pink. Flowers are pale yellow to pink, as long as the bracts. Fruits are capsules.
Luyang dilaw is pantropic, native of India, Its rhizomes are contain flavonoid curcumin (diferuloylmethane) and various volatile oils, including tumerone, atlantone, and zingiberone. It contain volatile oil (3-5%), tumerol (alcohol), d-alpha phellandrene, carvone, camphor, curcumone; fat, 3%; starch (30%); resin; curcumin (yellow orange pigment). It is a good source of phosphorus and iron.

As one who grew up on the farm, luyang dilaw is a familiar wild plant which old folk would gather for spice like the local luya. My Auntie Yaya, Basang would dig up a hill even if the rhizomes are still young and small, and would crush them as poultice for minor wounds and insect bites. A decoction would expel bad air, and loosen breathing if you have colds or flu. Little did I know about this annual plant. It aestivates in summer, awaking at the first rain in May, profusely growing to overcome weeds around. It would bloom shortly, then dries up leaving its rhizomes beneath the ground - if not harvested -  only to germinate again the next monsoon season.  

Here is a summary of some distinct characteristics of luyang dilaw, largely from researches I conducted in the university and from the Internet. Thanks to Philippine Medicinal Plants, and Alternative Medicine. Special thanks to the late Dr Eduardo Quisumbing, author of Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, who was then my professor in botany in the early sixties.
            Roots and young rhizomes of Curcuma longa
This list serves only as a guide and does not endorse self-medication. Medical advice is recommended before using the product or any of its preparations. 

1. The rhizome is pungent and bitter tasting, warming, carminative. In Chinese medicine it is , believed to Improve Ch'i circulation.

2. Studies have demonstrated various therapeutics effects: antioxidant, antiinflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, and anticarcinogenic activity.

3. As a folkloric medicine luyang dilaw is used as antiseptic, anti-contusion, antibacterial, antifungal. This is greatly appreciated with its aromatic, stimulant, tonic, cordial, emmenagogue and astringent properties. It is also used as carminative and for dispelling flatulence. In China used for colic, amenorrhea, congestions.


4. Turmeric paste mixed with a little lime and saltpeter is applied hot to sprains and bruises.
For smallpox and chicken pox, coating of turmeric powder or thin paste applied externally to facilitate scabbing.Paste made from flowers used for ringworm and other parasitic skin infections. Ointment is used in neuralgia and rheumatism.

5. In the Philippines rhizome with coconut oil is used as stomachic and vulnerary (promotes healing of wounds). Internally, juice of fresh rhizome used as anthelminticRhizome is also used for intermittent fevers, flatulence, dyspepsia. (Dyspepsia is a group of symptoms which often include bloating, nausea and burping.  Belching, nausea and a bloated feeling are common symptoms of dyspepsia).

4. As condiment, it is an ingredient of curry powder, and for food coloring In dried or powdered form, used like ginger. 

5. Used for menstrual irregularities, contusions and associated with painful swelling.
Crush rhizome and apply to wounds, insect bites, leech-bites,.ringworm, bleeding.

6. Fumes of burning turmeric used as inhalation in catarrh and severe head colds.
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7. Turmeric is one of the best known of material dyes, used for dyeing silk, wool and cotton. Rhizomes used for dyeing mats in the Philippines.

8. Ointment: Wash the unpeeled ginger. Chop the rhizomes to fill half a glass of water. Sauté with one glass of coconut oil on low heat for five minutes. Place in a clean bottle and label.
- Antiseptic for wounds: Extract juice of the fresh rhizome and apply directly on the wound or swelling.
Gas pain in adults: Decoction from thumb-sized rhizome in a glass of water reduced to half. 
- Turmeric for cough: 
Link provides preparation of turmeric as home remedy for coughs


9. Here is a list of studies on luyang dilaw
  • Tobacco Chewer and Chronic Smoker De-Addiction : 
  • Anti-parasitic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory
  • Anticancer 
  • Antifungal activities against Trichophyton longifusus.
  • Antibacterial 
  • Antioxidants and showed significant reduction in blood glucose. 
  • Anti-Inflammatory 
  • Peptic Ulcer Healing 
  • Antifertility Effect
  • Radioprotective
  • Antithrombotic 
  • Antiplatelet Effects 
  • Effect on Arsenic Toxicity
  • Renoprotective: 
  • Healing Effect on Smoking-Induced Liver Damage :
Continuing researches in these fields or topics challenge the young to pursue medicine, pharmacology, or any related career, including the promotion of alternative medicine and natural healing. ~

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