Believe it or not, turmeric actually has a very interesting and diverse history! Though most people are not typically enthralled by the history of a root, we love all things turmeric and wanted to share the history of turmeric with our readers.

Turmeric has been used for a long time

We’ve posted facts about turmeric on our blog, including it’s use as an Eastern folk remedy, but did you know that it has been used medicinally for nearly 4,500 years! A history of turmeric research found this amazing fact: Turmeric, ginger and garlic residue was discovered and analyzed near Delhi and dates back to around 2500BCE! Turmeric became a major player in Ayurvedic medicine around 500 BCE. The use of turmeric dates back to the Vedic culture in India, where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance. In 1280, Marco Polo described this spice, marveling at a vegetable that exhibited qualities so similar to that of saffron. According to Sanskrit medical treatises and Ayurvedic and Unani systems, turmeric has a long history of medicinal use in South Asia. Susruta’s Ayurvedic Compendium, dating back to 250 bc, recommends an ointment containing turmeric to relieve the effects of poisoned food. Turmeric  is a major part of Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani, and traditional Chinese medicine. It was first used as a dye, and then later for its medicinal properties, according to Wikipedia.

Turmeric is not always called turmeric

Turmeric has over 100 names in Ayurvedic medicine.Ayurvedic medicine is a very ancient Indian process of natural healing that is still practiced today. Below are a few names that turmeric goes by (if you want to see the entire list, check out National Center for Biotechnology Information:

  • haldi
  • manjal
  • anestha
  • kanchani
  • pavitra

Different cultures have different uses for turmeric

In Indian culture, the importance of turmeric goes far beyond medicine. The Hindu religion sees turmeric as sacred. There is a wedding day tradition in which a string that’s been dyed yellow with turmeric paste is tied around the new bride’s neck by her groom. This necklace indicates that the woman is married and capable of running a household. The tradition continues in Hindu communities and is similar to the Western exchange of wedding rings. In parts of southern India, a piece of the turmeric rhizome is worn as an amulet for protection against evil spirits.

Saffron-hued Buddhist robes are dyed with turmeric. In Kerala, a state in southwest India, children were given turmeric-dyed clothing to wear during the Onam festival.

When did turmeric become known as a spice for cooking?

While no one knows for sure when people starting cooking with turmeric, it appeared in Hannah Glasse’s 1747 cookbookThe Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.  Nowadays, cooks use ground turmeric for smoothies, soups and curries while fresh turmeric can be used for juices and marinades. It’s suggested that you can add it to pumpkin pie to intensify the flavor. Check out the article, “How to cook with turmeric, the super healthy trendy root” for all kinds of great ideas.

We think turmeric is just fascinating, and its history makes it even moreso! Want to learn more about our turmeric extract and it possible health benefits?  Visit our site at and learn more.