Black Turmeric was mentioned in another discussion and as I had never heard of it before, this led me down another one of those rabbit holes. So here are the results. Certainly seems to have lots of medicinal uses.
Description – Perennial herb growing from rhizomes, to .5 - 1.2 meters. Rhizomes have a blue to purple flesh instead of the bright orange of turmeric. Wide, elongated leaves with a red or purple stripe on the mid-rib. Flower bracts are green turning pink to deep red with age. Small flowers are yellow with a reddish border.
Habitat – Native to the Himalayan region, north-east and central India. Does best in humid, deciduous forests in an acidic soil. Prefers partial shade but grows well in full sun. Hardy to zone 9. Black turmeric should not be harvested from the wild as this is an endangered plant.
Medicinal Uses – Antioxidant. Anti-inflammatory. Analgesic. Anti-diarrheal. Antibacterial. Anti-asthmatic. Bronchiodilator. Anthelmentic. Anti-convulsive. Anti-ulcer. Anti-tumour. Anxiolytic. Antifungal. Anti-emetic. Diuretic. Stimulant. Smooth-muscle relaxant. Energetics: Bitter, warming, drying. Traditional Uses in India [i], [ii]: Used for stomach ache, ulcers, indigestion, dysentary and vomiting. Used similarly to ginger as a preventative for motion sickness. Also used to treat asthma, epilepsy, leprosy, hemorrhoids, cancer and typhoid fever. Topically, the fresh root can be used to relieve pain from bruising. Applied to the forehead, it is said to stop migraines. A fresh paste of the root is applied to wounds or snake or scorpion bites. Research: Scientific studies show antioxidant, anti-inflammatory anti-microbial and anti-ulcerogenic properties. ii, [iii], [iv] Antibacterial activity has been demonstrated against several types of bacteria.[v], [vi] Other studies show anti-mutagenic/anti-cancer properties but more research is needed.[vii], [viii] May prove useful in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and resulting complications such as diabetic neuropathy.[ix]
Parts Used – Root.
Harvest – In late fall or winter when the plant has died back.
Preparation – Used fresh or prepared by boiling before being dried.
Other Uses – Can be used sparingly in cooking. Its flavour is stronger than regular turmeric. It is most often added to food as a nutritional supplement rather than for flavour. Add to smoothies. Sometimes mixed with black pepper to be used as a table spice. Used in folk tradition as a talisman to keep away evil spirits and to indicate abundance or prevent a shortage of food grains in the home.
Constituents – Flavonoids. Phenolic acids. Terpenes; camphor, cineole, curcumenole, curcuzederone, epicurzerenone, eucalyptol, germacrene, isoborneol, ocimene, santalol, alloaromadendrene. Retinol. Vitamins C. Barium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sulphur.
Cautions or Contraindications – Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. Anyone taking blood thinners should consult a health care practitioner before using black turmeric. Curcuma species should be avoided for 2 weeks prior to any surgery.
Other species: There are over 130 species of Curcuma. The most commonly used or available other species in addition to C. caesia are:
Curcuma alismatifolia – Siam Tulip. (sold as cut flowers)
Curucuma amada – Mango Ginger. (similar to ginger with a mango taste)
Curcuma angustifolia – Narrow-leaved Turmeric. East Indian Arrowroot.
Curcuma aromatica – Wild Turmeric. (cream coloured root, used in cosmetics)
Curcuma comosa – Wan Chak Motluk. (widely used spice in Thailand).
Curcuma longa – Turmeric. Yellow Turmeric. Yellow Haldi.
Curcuma zeodaria – White Turmeric. White Zeodary.
 The name Black Turmeric may also refer to Kaempferia parviflora, another genus in the Zingiberaceae family. It is also called Black Ginger, Thai Black Ginger, Thai Ginseng or Krachai Dum.
 Not to be confused with Zeodary which is a different species, Curcuma zeodaria. See Other Species below.
[iii] Satyendra Singh Baghel, Rajendra Singh Baghel, Kshamashil Sharma, Indu Sikarwar Pharmacological activities of Curcuma caesia Department of Pharmacology, Shri Ram College of Pharmacy, Banmore, Madhya Pradesh, India
[v] Sweetymol Jose, T. Dennis Thomas Comparative phytochemical and anti‑bacterial studies of two indigenous medicinal plants Curcuma caesia Roxb. and Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb Research and Development Centre, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, 1Department of Botany, St. Thomas College, Palai, Arunapuram, Kottayam, Kerala, India
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