By now most people have heard about Turmeric and its incredible actions and uses in supporting our enduring wellness, but I wonder how many people know what this plant ally looks like and where it originally comes from. After a quick etymological tour, allow me to tell you about our Turmeric which is available in bulk pounds, my favorite way to use it, and also in capsules, which of course are most excellent for convenience. Note however that the capsules are significantly more potent than the powder as they include the following formula:
- Whole Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
- Extracted Turmeric (Curcuminoid 95%)
- Whole Ginger (Zingiber officinale).
Turmeric: comes via the French from the Latin terra merita, meaning “worthy earth.” Isn’t this so fitting of such a wonderful earthy ally!
Haldi: yellow. Not so exciting and not without its esoteric meanings.
Curcuma: is a Latinization of the Arabic kurkum which referred to both Saffron and Tumeric and no doubt came from the Sanskrit word kurkuma meaning the Saffron. Now if you knew how incredibly precious saffron was held to be in the ancient world, then you know that this word “Curcuma” represents quite the compliment to our favorite golden spice.
Ginger: derived from Zingiber
Vishwabesaj: literally, “the universal healer,” and indeed it is which is one reason why it is in this formula!
Zingiber: derived from the Greek zingiberis, which was in turn derived or borrowed from the Sanskrit names for Ginger, shringavera, which is the word for an animal’s horns which Ginger can oft resemble.
Botanical Description and Habitat
Turmeric is a beautiful plant usually 2 to 5 feet tall. When it comes up out of the ground it radiates it presence just beckoning to be noticed. It looks a lot like the ginger plant and the canna lily. The rhizome looks a lot like ginger before it is boiled. After it is boiled the whole rhizome turns yellow. The flowers, which blossom out of the center of the leaves, are white to yellow-red and bloom after the monsoon in the fall and winter. The leaves, which emit a sweet smell like the fruit and flower of the mango, are wide and deep green, pointed and oblong, growing out from a central stalk. They look like a short spear of a Zulu warrior.
I use to live near a rural Ayurvedic Hospital in Oudh that grew its own herbs. The Turmeric flowers stood out, even though they were next to the Hibiscus.
Turmeric is a native of southern Asia and likely was originally indigenous to an area extending from Bihar to Orissa. Now it is cultivated extensively throughout the warmer parts of the world, usually in thick rich black soil. It is cultivated almost throughout India, particularly in Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
For years our Certified Organic Turmeric was grown biodynamically by Orissan tribals in remote villages that we supported. Now we also grow some of our Turmeric on our Vrindavan farm north of Lucknow and also in Bundelkhand near Chitrakut. Plants tend to grow best and be their strongest in places that they are indigenous to, as these three locations are.