The major use of turmeric rhizomes is as a culinary spice as an important constituent (20-25%) of curry powder. Young shoots and young rhizomes can be eaten fresh as a spicy vegetable.
In western countries, ground turmeric is widely used in the food industry, in particular as a colouring agent in processed foods and sauces. It is also applied as a colouring agent in pharmaceuticals, confectionery and textile dyes, and is an excellent cheaper substitute for saffron.
Turmeric rhizomes are part of numerous traditional compound medicines used as stomachic, tonic and blood purifier; mixed with warm milk they are used to cure common cold; juice from fresh rhizomes is applied against many skin infections, whereas a decoction is effective against purulent ophthalmia. Recent research has found pharmaceutical activity against cancer, dermatitis, AIDS, inflammation, high cholesterol levels, and dyspeptic conditions. It also has insecticidal, fungicidal and nematicidal properties.
Turmeric, a spice that has long been recognized for its medicinal properties as it is the major source of the polyphenol curcumin. It aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. It may also help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and performance in active people. Ingesting curcumin by itself does not lead to the associated health benefits due to its poor bioavailability, which appears to be primarily due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination. There are several components that can increase bioavailability.
For example, piperine is the major active component of black pepper and, when combined in a complex with curcumin, has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2000%.
In addition, a relatively low dose can provide health benefits for people that do not have diagnosed health conditions.