Turmeric: The Essential Guide

Published on January 05, 2021

Turmeric is a beautiful, brightly colored root that has been used for centuries both as a spice and as an herb to support health.* And it’s still being used widely today.

One of the reasons that Turmeric is so well-loved is that it’s not only delicious but also provides a wide array of whole-body health benefits.*

In this article, you’ll learn all about Turmeric: what it is, where it grows, how it was used historically, how it is commonly used now, and, of course, how to work it into your daily life.

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric, scientifically known as Curcuma longa, is a leafy plant that is beautiful in its own right. It can grow to be three feet tall with long leaves. But the part that is consumed as a spice and botanical herb is the rhizome. A rhizome is technically not a root but an underground stem.

However, for all practical purposes, the part of Turmeric that is eaten is commonly referred to as a root. From here on out, when we refer to Turmeric, we’re referring to the rhizome that is used as a spice and herb.

This rhizome is yellowish-brown on the outside yet orange inside and hails from India, the country that produces most of the world’s Turmeric.

While India is famous for Turmeric, it’s not the only place where this spice is grown.

Here at Gaia Herbs, we love to grow many of the herbs we use in our products on our own Certified Organic farm in Brevard, North Carolina. But sometimes, due to climate or a simple lack of space, we need help from our international network of organic and sustainable growing communities.

For the plants used in our supplements that we can’t grow on our farm, such as Turmeric, our network of farmers allows us to source herbs from where they grow best and where conditions are ideal to produce the highest possible level of botanical compounds.

The Turmeric in our products is grown using natural farming methods and is thoroughly quality-tested for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants to ensure it meets our stringent standards.

It is cultivated with care by family farmers using agricultural practices that nurture the soil and help guarantee the production of Turmeric's active phytochemicals.*

We source from Nicaragua, Indonesia, and India, where conditions are the most ideal for growing Turmeric with the highest possible levels of beneficial constituents.* Learn more about our Indonesian farm partners.

At Gaia Herbs, we believe you deserve to know exactly what’s in your herbal supplements. That’s why we created meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform.

By using your product’s herb ID number (found on the back of every Gaia product), you can discover the origin of your herbs; learn how they were grown, harvested, and extracted; and see validation of your product’s level of purity and potency.

History and Traditional Uses of Turmeric

The question to ask isn’t “Where is Turmeric used?” A better question would be “Where isn’t Turmeric used?” It has been used all over the world, in everything from drinks and food to cosmetics and even as part of religious ceremonies.

Its use began around 4,000 years ago in the southern Asian country famous for Turmeric: India. Later, it made its way to China, East Africa, West Africa, and Jamaica.

The ancients knew there was something special about Turmeric. Now, with modern science, we have a better understanding of how this plant works its magic.

There is an active component in Turmeric called curcumin, which is one of the three curcuminoids that, along with Turmeric’s other beneficial components, contribute to the herb’s ability to support health and wellness.*

That’s exactly what we’d like to explore now, the health-supporting benefits of Turmeric.* While there are many, we’ll hone in on three: It provides antioxidant support, supports a healthy inflammatory response, and provides support for the liver and gallbladder.*

Health-Supporting Benefits of Turmeric*

Turmeric Has Antioxidant Properties

Turmeric has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are believed to be able to scavenge free radicals, increase antioxidant enzymes, and inhibit lipid peroxidation (the process by which free radicals damage cells).*

By minimizing cell damage from free radicals, antioxidants also minimize oxidative stress—which can lead to fatigue, brain fog, and signs of aging—making them important for overall health.*

In animal studies, Turmeric has shown antioxidant potential by demonstrating the ability to lower oxidative stress.

While these findings are specific to animal studies and more research and clinical studies will need to be done in humans before any definitive conclusions can be drawn on the effect of Turmeric’s antioxidant properties on human health, we are excited by these promising early results.*

Turmeric Supports a Healthy Inflammatory Response*

Turmeric supports a healthy inflammatory response in healthy individuals, which is closely linked to its antioxidant properties.*

Since it can help reduce occasional inflammation due to normal daily wear and tear, Turmeric is held in high regard for its ability to help sustain healthy joint function.*

Turmeric Supports the Liver and Gallbladder*

Another fascinating characteristic of Turmeric is that it appears to be hepatoprotective.* This simply means that it helps maintain the liver.* And, as a bitter herb, Turmeric naturally stimulates the liver, which in turn supports healthy digestion.*

Turmeric also maintains a healthy digestive process because it supports healthy bile production and excretion.* Bile is a digestive fluid made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder that aids in digestion by breaking down fats.

In addition to all the other health benefits of Turmeric, when incorporated into meals, it can help promote digestion and is known to reduce occasional gas and bloating.*

Cooking with Turmeric

Since Turmeric is delicious and has been used for centuries in all sorts of dishes, it’s not hard to find ways to cook with it. While powdered Turmeric is easy to find, you may also be able to buy fresh Turmeric roots from your grocery store.

If you have Turmeric root on hand, try adding thin slivers to rice or other whole grains before cooking.

If you’re looking for new and creative ways to use Turmeric powder, stir it into scrambled eggs with a touch of cumin and cilantro, add it to smoothies, or mix it into sauces or dressings.

Cooking with Turmeric is wonderful, which is why it's a staple in most spice racks. As a food, Turmeric supports your ojas (vital energy), and, being a bitter herb, it supports digestion, too.* But... it doesn't offer the same support that a powder or supplement does.

One thing to remember is that the bioavailability (how well a substance circulates through and is absorbed by your whole body) of the curcumin in Turmeric increases when combined with black pepper.*

The good news is that we’ve already taken care of that for you by adding black pepper to our Turmeric powders. Let’s take a look at one of these powders and how you can use it in the kitchen on a regular basis.

Turmeric Boost® Restore

Tumeric boost

Gaia Herbs Turmeric Boost® Restore is made with Ayurvedic herbs and real Chai spices and is a delicious addition to smoothies, juice, or dairy or non-dairy milk. This powder supports a healthy inflammatory response in healthy adults.*

In addition to Turmeric and black pepper, it also contains Holy Basil and Ginger, traditional herbs for maintaining overall well-being and supporting healthy digestion.*

Aside from adding it to any smoothie or milk, here are some of our favorite recipes that feature Turmeric Boost® Restore.

There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to getting your daily dose of Turmeric by cooking with it.

First of all, the recommended daily serving of Turmeric is up to 3 grams of dried powder or whole root. That would mean consuming one and a half teaspoons every day.

While Turmeric can add a delicious touch to dishes, it is also a bit bitter, which means consuming that much Turmeric may not be palatable for some people.

The fat-soluble active components of Turmeric, including its essential oils, need to pass the blood-brain barrier to be able to provide health-supportive benefits.*

Secondly, when Turmeric is added to a recipe, its essential oils are either not preserved (cooking only releases their aroma and flavor) or not available, since most uncooked preparations don't support the absorption of those fat-soluble components, and the potency of dried Turmeric diminishes over time.

While we love cooking with a Turmeric powder and you can reap all sorts of benefits from a high-quality powder like Turmeric Boost® Restore, taking a Turmeric extract, such as in a Turmeric gummy or in our Liquid Phyto-Caps®, is another easy way to get a concentrated dose of Turmeric.

You can also find Turmeric in these powder supplements: Golden Milk and Mind Spring™.

Taking Turmeric Supplements

How to Choose a Quality Turmeric Supplement

Opt for Quality-Testing and Transparency

Look for products made with sustainably or environmentally friendly grown Turmeric to ensure you are getting the beneficial constituents you want, without the toxic chemicals you don’t.

Here at Gaia, we are committed to ethical and responsible sourcing. The Turmeric in our products is grown using natural farming methods and is thoroughly quality-tested for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants to ensure it meets our stringent standards.

This information is all shared through our meetyourherbs.com herb traceability platform.

Select Full Spectrum Formulas—Not Isolates

Turmeric contains curcuminoids, turmerones, and polysaccharides, compounds that are believed to be responsible for the herb’s beneficial impacts on health.* In fact, it’s the synergy between these components that is thought to enhance the plant’s overall benefits to well-being.*

Yet, many companies select an isolated curcumin extract for their Turmeric supplements. Often, you will even see the terms “Turmeric” and “curcumin” used interchangeably, though they do not mean the same thing.

As mentioned earlier, Turmeric indicates the whole rhizome (underground stem) of the Curcuma longa plant, while curcumin refers to one of the three curcuminoids that—along with Turmeric's other beneficial components—contribute to the herb’s ability to support health and wellness.*

How can you tell if a product is full spectrum? If considering a Turmeric supplement from another company, we recommend looking at that product's Supplement Facts label first to verify that it does not list only curcumin in the active ingredients.

Educate Yourself About Extraction Methods

Some supplement companies use harsh solvents to obtain their herbal extracts—like hexane, acetone, ethyl acetate, and methanol.

During the extraction process, these chemicals can get left behind in an herb and passed along to you in the product, ultimately leaving traces of unwanted toxins in your body and in the environment.

At Gaia Herbs, we only use gentle, nontoxic extraction methods in our manufacturing processes to ensure the cleanest and safest possible products to support your health.*

Importantly, we also utilize extraction processes that preserve potency, are specific to the desired constituents for a supplement, and are designed to obtain the widest range of active compounds.

Now that we have discussed how to choose a high-quality Turmeric supplement, let’s talk about different Turmeric supplement formats available.

Turmeric Gummies

This revered Ayurvedic herb that supports whole-body health is now available as a gummy!* Our USDA Certified Organic and non-GMO verified Turmeric Gummies are sweetened only with real fruit, and without any colors or refined sugars, delivering the power of Turmeric in a delicious, convenient format for support you can feel good about.* Made with an organic Turmeric extract offering superior absorption and proven bioavailability, the gummies are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.*

Turmeric Supreme® Adult Daily Gummies

  Turmeric Supreme Adult Daily Gummies

Each serving of our full spectrum Turmeric Supreme Adult Daily Gummies formula contains the equivalent of 3.4 grams of Turmeric and 60 mg of curcuminoids, offering daily inflammation support for your healthy, active life—delivered in a convenient and delicious gummy.*

Turmeric Supreme® Extra Strength Gummies

  Turmeric Supreme Extra Strength Gummies

The full spectrum formula in Turmeric Supreme Extra Strength Gummies contains the equivalent of 6.6 grams of Turmeric and provides 95 mg of powerful curcuminoids per serving to help support healthy inflammatory function to help maintain an active lifestyle.* These gummies are formulated for 24x absorption and more bioavailability, when compared to our Adult Daily Gummies.*

Turmeric Capsules

While we feature Turmeric extract in many products—such as Turmeric Supreme® Pain, Turmeric Supreme® Sinus Support, Turmeric Supreme® Heart, and Turmeric Supreme® Immune Support—today, we’ll tell you about a top-selling supplement that we think you’ll love.

Turmeric Supreme® Joint

Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme® Joint

Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme® Joint combines Turmeric with other supportive herbs in easy-to-take Liquid Phyto-Caps; it’s formulated to promote healthy joints so you can stay physically active.*

Each two-capsule serving delivers 30 mg of curcumins from 4,900 mg of dry herb and also includes other herbs such as Devil's Claw and Boswellia.

Discover Turmeric for Your Well-Being*

Turmeric has a long history of use in Southern Asia and is now commonly used in kitchens all over the world. In addition to its antioxidant properties, Turmeric supports a healthy inflammatory response in healthy individuals and supports the liver and gallbladder, making it a sought-after herb for health and wellness.*

Discover Turmeric for yourself by cooking with our Turmeric Boost® Restore powder, taking a concentrated dose via one of our Liquid Phyto-Caps supplements, such as Turmeric Supreme® Joint, or enjoying a gummy supplement, such as Turmeric Supreme® Adult Daily Gummies.

Feel the Gaia Turmeric Difference!