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History of Turmeric


Humans have consumed plants not just as a necessary food source, but as medicine used to treat every ailment they encountered. However, over the last century, herbal medicine has seen a decline as the pharmaceutical industry grew. It is no surprise that the profit-driven pharmaceutical companies wanted to replace herbs with more modern treatments both with positive and negative results. Recently, however, herbal medicine in combination with pharmaceuticals have become a popular choice for many people. One of the most popular herbal supplements is Turmeric.

In this article, we will look into the history of Turmeric, the rise and fall of herbal remedies, and why Turmeric has soared in popularity over the last few years.

History of Turmeric

Recorded references to Turmeric go back more than 4,000 B.C.E. Some historians believe the plant originated in India and others in China. One thing that is agreed upon is that Turmeric has been one of the most used herbs throughout ancient Chinese and Indian medicine.

In Ayurveda, an ancient Indian healing system that is still practiced today, there are over 100 terms for turmeric including “jayanti”, meaning “victory over diseases”. It was even rumored to have been grown in the Gardens of Babylon during the 8th Century B.C.E.

Because of its medicinal uses, the ability to be used as a dye and use as a flavor additive, it quickly spread throughout the world. Now, it is grown throughout Africa, South America, and even Hawaii, although India still produces nearly 94% of Turmeric.

Decline of Herbal Remedies

The early 19th century was a turning point in the knowledge base surrounding medicine, and the use of medicinal plants. Doctors and scientists found ways to isolate certain parts of plants, such as alkaloids from poppy and glycosides from the foxglove plant. Subsequent to the upgrading of chemical methodologies, other active substances from medicinal plants such as tannins, saponosides, vitamins and hormones were also discovered.

Many doctors and scientists rightfully claimed that drugs obtained from medicinal plants possessed shortcomings and that using isolated properties in its purest forms, was more beneficial. However, as technology advanced, scientists were able to create modern synthetic versions of these properties, thus eliminating the need to use plants as the base for most medicines. After successful vaccination discoveries, penicillin and other breakthrough drugs, people started to trust modern medicine more and herbal medicine was replaced.

Rise of Herbal Supplements

In more recent years, there has been a resurgence in herbal medicine. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, currently use herbal medicine for some of their health care. In most developed countries, adult populations are more likely to use both conventional and herbal medicine equally. The rise in herbal medicine could be attributed to a number of factors, from distrust in the pharmaceutical industry to just wanting to give your body the best of everything. Either way, we think there is a sweet spot where both modern and herbal medicine play a part in everyone’s day to day lives.

Turmeric’s Recent Rise

Turmeric has seen a spike in popularity over the last few years. In fact, Turmeric searches on Google have seen a 300% increase since 2015. The popularity of Turmeric lattes and root based juice drinks helped bring Turmeric back into the spotlight around 2015. Once chefs started focusing more on health-based meals, the use of ginger and turmeric spiked. With the surge in the supplement industry people started to incorporate turmeric into their daily regiment due to its long history as the go-to cure-all herb.

Does Turmeric Work?

The real powerhouse found within turmeric is an active polyphenolic compound called curcumin. Common positive effects of using the compound range from anti-inflammation all the way to a healthy heart. There have been several studies that point to curcumin working for arthritis but one study for osteoarthritis is even more promising. The study published in 2014 by Phytotherapy Research, pointed to participants with moderate knee osteoarthritis seeing significant improvement. Although there is an increase in studies around natural medicine, they are few and far between. Why? There are not a lot of supplement companies that make enough to fund extensive research like those done by pharmaceutical companies.

In Conclusion...

Herbal medicine in combination with modern medicine is on the rise and not going away anytime soon. As more studies are done and released, we hope there will be more clarity around what a more balanced approach to medicine looks like. Until then, always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement. For more on Turmeric and it’s effectiveness click here. 


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