Saturday, September 3, 2016

Turmeric (Luyang dilaw) - Medicine-and-Spice in One

Luyang dilaw (Curcuma longahas outstanding medicinal properties that are a vital 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, Heliconia, camia or any of its relatives under Family Zingiberaceae or ginger family.
Miss Jules SM Rojas poses with luyang dilaw,  Curcuma longa) in garden in Lagro QC. 
But no one can't miss it in its flowering stage, this plant universally known as turmeric,  Its flowers are typical of ginger species led by the popular Zingiber officinale or luya, no kitchen is without.
Luyang dilaw is a leafy plant, 1 to 1.5 meters tall, with 5 to 6 leaves. Rhizomes are bright yellow inside, thick and cylindric. 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, as long as the bracts. Fruits are in capsules.

Luyang dilaw is pantropic, native of India, Its rhizomes contain flavonoid curcumin (diferuloylmethane) and various volatile oils, including tumerone, atlantone, and zingiberone. It contains volatile oil (3-5%), tumerol (alcohol), d-alpha phellandrene, carvone, camphor, curcumone; fat, 3%; starch (30%); resin; curcumin (yellow orange pigment). - A good source of phosphorus and iron. (Philippine Medicinal Plants)

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.  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. She would prepare decoction to expel bad air, or ease breathing when you have colds or flu. Little did I know about this annual plant. It aestivates in summer, waking up with first strong rain in April or 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 in the next monsoon season.  

Here is a summary of some distinct characteristics of luyang dilaw, largely coming from researches I conducted in the university and from the Internet. Thanks to Philippine Medicinal Plants, and Alternative Medicine.  My gratitude goes to the late Dr Eduardo Quisumbing, author of Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, and to Dr Fernando de Peralta who were 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.(prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.. 

2. Studies have demonstrated various therapeutics effects: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, immuno-modulatory, hepato-protective, and anti-carcinogenic activity.  In Chinese medicine it is believed to Improve Ch'i circulation.

3. As a folkloric medicine luyang dilaw is used as antiseptic, anti-contusion, antibacterial, anti-fungal. This is greatly appreciated with its aromatic, stimulant, tonic, cordial, emmenagogue and astringent properties. It is also used as carminative.  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 tumeric 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 anthelmintic  Rhizome 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, and is used like ginger. 

5. It is used for menstrual irregularities, contusions and associated with painful swelling.
Crush rhizome and apply to wounds, insect bites, leech-bites,.ringworm, bleeding and the like.

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

8. Ointment: Wash the unpeeled rhizomes, chop and 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.  Application: Antiseptic for wounds, relief for gas pain (kabag). Extract juice of the fresh rhizome and apply directly on the wound or swelling.

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, and other related careers, including the promotion of alternative medicine and natural healing. ~

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