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Botanical name

Turmeric plant - Curcuma longa L. (Syn. Curcuma domestica Val.)
Javanese turmeric - Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb.


Ginger family (Zingiberaceae)

Useful information about the plant

India, more precisely the area of Bihar, is believed to be the original home of Turmeric (C. longa). Even today India is the main growing area of the plant, but culfarms tures are also found in other tropical parts of Asia. Javanese turmeric (C. xanthorrhiza) is native to tropical Southeast Asia and is cultivated in Indonesia, especially Java, Malaysia and southern China. The genus name Curcuma, which was incorporated dates back to the ancient Indian "kunkuman" (= saffron), "turmeric" is from middle Indian. Thus, the characteristic saffron-yellow colour of the rootstocks (rhizomes) of both types is addressed, which is further emphasised with the epithet xanthorrhiza, from the Greek "xanthos" (= yellow) and "rhiza" (= root). The epithet longa refers to the long roots of this plant, which grow like fingers slanting downwards. Both plants are very similar to the same ginger family of plants. The large ovate-lanceolate leaves are basal and grow with a long stem up to 1.20m in height. The venation is parallel. The year-old inflorescence with several flowers is cone-like and is about 10 to 15cm long and 5-7cm in diameter and is enclosed on one of the sheath-like petioles, 15 to 20cm long stems. The individual flowers are yellow in C. longa and purple or crimson in C. xanthorrhiza. The bulbous and finger-shaped, yellow rhizome of the plant is used. It is harvested when the aerial parts have withered. With C. longa, the main tuberous roots are used as cuttings for new cultures, the finger-shaped or cylindrical root is immediately blanched in boiling water to prevent it from sprouting during drying. With C. xanthorrhiza the tuberous rhizomes are peeled, sliced and then dried at 50°C. The powdered rhizomes are a hot spice and a major ingredient of curry powder.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The dried rhizomes are used. The Curcuma root (C. longa) is imported from China, India and Indonesia, the Javanese turmeric (C. xanthorrhiza) comes exclusively from Indonesia.

Ingredients of the drug

The rhizomes of Curcuma rhizomes contain spicy curcuminoids
(Dicinnamoylmethanderivate), curcumin (yellow pigments), essential oils and plenty of strengths.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of Tumeric (Curcuma longa rhizome) is specified in the German Drug Codex (DAC), the quality of the Javanese turmeric (Curcuma Rhizoma xanthorrhiza) specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

Both drugs are accepted for medical use with Dyspeptic complaints (Commission E); for the symptomatic treatment of mild indigestion and mild hepatic-biliary disorders (ESCOP , Curcuma rhizome).
An area of use covered by clinical trials (approval) for Curcuma rhizome or Javanese turmeric is: digestive problems, especially for functional disorders of the biliary system and also with dyspeptic complaints.
The HMPC has classified Curcuma rhizome as a traditional herbal medicinal product (see traditional use).

Traditional use

The HMPC has categorised Curcuma rhizome as a traditional herbal medicine (§ 39a AMG). Based on many years of experience Curcuma rhizomes are used to increase bile flow to relieve the symptoms of indigestion such as bloating, flatulence and slowed digestion.
Curcuma rhizome or Javanese turmeric is traditionally used to support the digestive system (traditional use acc. to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • Roughly pulverised drug as a tea
  • Dried extract in capsules, tablets and capsules
  • Aqueous extract in drops


Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink a cup of tea several times a day, before or with meals. Daily dose: 1.5 to 3g of coarsely powdered drug.

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of boiling water over 0.5 to 1g coarsely powdered Curcuma rhizome or Javanese turmeric and strain after 5 to 10 min.


If there is bile occlusion or inflammation of a bile, gall stones or gall bladder and liver disease, Curcuma rhizome or Javanese turmeric may not be taken. If the symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks or worsen, seek medical advice immediately.
There are still no studies on the safety of the use of Curcuma rhizome or Javanese turmeric during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding as well as for use in children and adolescents under 18 years old.

Side effects

Sometimes, stomach discomfort and may cause dry mouth and flatulence.


None known


Drug monographs

HMPC, Commission E, ESCOP, WHO Vol. 1

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 210. pg. 214
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 80, pg. 105
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 118
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Javanese turmeric, no. 1441)

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