Turmeric tubers

Chinese: 郁金

Pinyin: Yù Jīn

Parts used: Dried root tuber

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiverLung

Scientific name: Curcuma wenyujin, Curcuma longa, Curcuma kwangsiensis or Curcuma phaeocaulis

Use of turmeric tubers (Yù Jīn) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Wash, moisturize, slice, and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Moves Blood, breaks Stasis and reduces associated pain. Regulates the Liver and relieves patterns of Stagnant Qi with pain. Clears the Heart and Cools the Blood. Relieves Stagnation and clears Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder. Relieves jaundice.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which turmeric tubers may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Chest pain Abdominal pain Epilepsy Jaundice Delirium Gallstones

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used during pregnancy or by those without signs of Stagnant Blood or Qi. It should also be used with caution by those with Yin Deficiency from blood loss.

Common TCM formulas in which turmeric tubers are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind turmeric tubers' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), turmeric tubers are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore turmeric tubers are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that turmeric tubers typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition turmeric tubers can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Turmeric tubers also taste Bitter and Pungent. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like turmeric tubers tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and body fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such turmeric tubers are thought to target the Heart, the Liver and the Lung. In addition to regulating blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on turmeric tubers

Regular ingestion of turmeric reduces plasma malondialdehyde and increases red blood cell catalase activity and plasma albumin levels in hemodialysis patients.1

Gargling with turmeric by head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy provided significant benefit by delaying and reducing the severity of mucositis.2

Co-ingestion of turmeric with white bread increases working memory independent of body fatness, glycaemia, insulin, or Alzheimer's disease biomarkers.3

Sources:

1. Pakfetrat M, Akmali M, Malekmakan L, Dabaghimanesh M, Khorsand M. (2015). Role of turmeric in oxidative modulation in end-stage renal disease patients. Hemodial Int. , 19(1):124-31. doi: 10.1111/hdi.12204. Epub 2014 Aug 16.

2. Rao S, Dinkar C, Vaishnav LK, Rao P, Rai MP, Fayad R, Baliga MS. (2014). The Indian Spice Turmeric Delays and Mitigates Radiation-Induced Oral Mucositis in Patients Undergoing Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer: An Investigational Study. Integr Cancer Ther. , 13(3):201-10. doi: 10.1177/1534735413503549. Epub 2013 Oct 28.

3. Lee MS, Wahlqvist ML, Chou YC, Fang WH, Lee JT, Kuan JC, Liu HY, Lu TM, Xiu L, Hsu CC, Andrews ZB, Pan WH. (2014). Turmeric improves post-prandial working memory in pre-diabetes independent of insulin. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. , 23(4):581-91. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.2014.23.4.24.

Use of turmeric tubers as food

Turmeric tubers are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Indian curries or Moroccan tajines.