Zedoary (Curcuma zedoaria), or white turmeric, is a perennial plant that is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. The plant bears yellow flowers with green and red bracts. The underground stem, which is similar to ginger or turmeric, is tuberous and large, with several branches. White turmeric’s leaf shoots are long and may reach a height of up to 1 meter.
Some other names include zedoaire (French), zitwer (German), zedoaria (Italian), cedoaria (Spanish), amb halad or kachur or garndhmul (Indian), and kentjur (Indonesian).
During Medieval times, white turmeric was valued in the spice trade because people thought that its aroma was a combination of mango, turmeric, and ginger. The plant is also mentioned in Roman de la Rose’s 13th century poem, and was extolled by Nicolas Culpeper, a 17th century herbalist, for its ability to resist poison, expel wind, stay vomiting, stop the menses and fluxing, kill worms, and help the colic.
Growing White Turmeric
Before it was spread around the world, white turmeric was used in India, China, and other Asian countries. The herb grows across natural beds of Karnataka and the Eastern Himalayan region and is grown in many other countries as well.
White turmeric is found naturally growing in wet forest areas with sub-tropical or tropical climatic conditions. The herb’s propagation involves planting small pieces of the rhizome and takes around two years before the plant can be harvested.
The juice extracted from white turmeric’s rhizomes is used to cure various infections, which are listed below.
Benefits of White Turmeric
White tumeric’s components have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial, larvicidal, anti-amoebic, anti-ulcer, anti-venom, analgesic, anti-nociceptive, anti-cancer, hepatoprotective, and cytotoxic effects. The following are some of white turmeric’s positive effects on health:
- Anti-inflammatory paste is used on pain, skin ailments, wounds, and inflammation.
- The herb purifies blood and acts as a body stimulant.
- The herb treats respiratory disorders, acts as an aphrodisiac, and tones up the uterus.
- As a juice, it is used to treat urinary tract infections and urine-related disorders.
- In its powdered form, it helps regulate menstruation.
- Normalizes body temperature, improves liver condition, and improves digestion.
- It is used to prevent stress ulceration and acts as a gastro-intestinal stimulant in flatulent colic.
- It helps treat cough, vomiting, colic, and dyspepsia.
- It is used to make cosmetics, perfumes, bitters, stomach essences, and liquors.
- It is used as an anti-venom for Indian Cobra bites.
Digestive Aid For millennia, white turmeric has been used to treat digestive problems, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. The herb’s essential oil and the herb itself are beneficial in the treatment of colic, indigestion, spasms, loss of appetite, infestation of worms, flatulence, irregular bowel movement, and tastelessness. It is also a natural aid in preventing stress-related ulceration.
Respiratory Problems In Ayurveda, an excess of kapha dosha is due to fluids like phlegm and mucus building up in the lungs and other areas of the body. Phlegm and mucus block the nasal passages and lead to breathing difficulties and respiratory disorders like cold, asthma, and cough.
Relieves Inflammation and Pain White turmeric, as an anti-inflammatory agent, helps to treat inflammation, wounds, and other skin ailments. It was used in Indonesian folk medicine to treat inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). It was also utilized to protect asthmatic patients’ lungs by curbing inflammatory mediators’ release during short-term therapy.
The diuretic properties of zedoary support the elimination of the body’s toxic substances and excess fluids, especially in the joints. If there is no detoxification, it may lead to inflammation and pain in cases of arthritis and rheumatism. White turmeric also reduces the body’s temperature during fever by purging infectious microbes and promoting sweat.
Fights Cancer Cells A 2013 study indicates that white turmeric inhibits AGS cells’ proliferation, which proves that the rhizome root is anti-cancer. The study says that the oil inhibits the proliferation of AGS cells through cell apoptosis promotion and cell cycle arrest.
A separate study also indicates that the Chinese SFDA has approved the oil safe to treat cancerous tumors that affect the lungs, brains, ovaries, breast, colon, liver, and other tissues.
White turmeric’s effect on the doshas is that it balances kapha and vata. Its taste is bitter and pungent and it has a heating energy. In Ayurveda, its primary action is a spasmolytic, gall and liver tonic, detoxifier, and blood purifier.
Aside from its use in Ayurveda and traditional folk medicine, zedoary can be used for culinary purposes – considering it was once a valued commodity during the spice trade of the Middle Ages. Moreover, the root is edible and its aroma resembles mango.