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In most classic Indian movies, when the hero was hurt or wounded after a brawl with the baddies, he was offered a haldi (turmeric) based home remedy by his weeping maa ji.

Although Bollywood movies are infamous for showing inaccurate medicine (think of Amitabh Bachchan managing to stay alive to kill the villain despite being shot several times), the turmeric remedies are bona fide and grounded in the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda.

This distinctly yellow-staining spice has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties that make it an effective remedy, highly recommended by Ayurvedic healers and modern medicine too.

The most popular nuskha (also a favourite in the movies) used for curing and preventing colds is a concoction of milk, turmeric and sugar, and popularly known as haldi doodh.

Some other turmeric remedies include:

  • Turmeric juice is used to heal cuts, wounds, bruises and even leech bites.
  • A paste of turmeric, lime and salt can help ease sprains and inflamed joints.
  • A salve of turmeric and neem leaves is believed to be effective in clearing parasitic skin conditions including eczema, itching and ringworms. This salve also soothes the skin of people suffering from chicken pox and shingles.
  • Inhaling the fumes of burning turmeric (made by sprinkling turmeric over burnt charcoal) can provide relief to people who have chest congestions.
  • Turmeric taken internally can aid digestion, balance the metabolism, reduce blood sugar and remedy anaemia.

Oh, and let’s not forget the “haldi ceremony” in Indian movies, where the bride and groom are smeared with turmeric paste (because it makes the skin fairer and gives it a glow) – usually followed by a song and dance number!

However, please remember that if consumed in excess, turmeric can cause nausea.

– Lateef Munawwar

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 28, 2013.