The turmeric plant (Curcuma longa) is an herb closely related to ginger. It's cultivated in tropical climates across Asia for its root stocks, which supply the flavor and pigment of the plant. The root stocks — which grow underground, but are more of a stem than a true root — can be ground into a paste, or dried and ground into a powder.
Turmeric contains more than 300 naturally occurring components including beta-carotene, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), calcium, flavonoids, fiber, iron, niacin, potassium, zinc and other nutrients.
But the chemical in turmeric linked to its most highly touted health effects is curcumin.
Does turmeric work?Few studies have been done to reliably prove or disprove turmeric's purported benefits. But there is some preliminary evidence to suggest curcumin has some health benefits. Turmeric's primary effect on the body is that it decreases inflammation, which is associated with many health conditions.
Preliminary evidence from studies in people suggests turmeric may be effective in the management of pain, dyspepsia (upset stomach), or hyperlipidemia (high lipid levels in the blood).