HARIDRA (Haldi) (Curcuma longa)
The Sanskrit word haridra literally means that which improves the complexion of the skin. It is popularly known as haldi (turmeric). It is an integral part of the Indian cuisine and is also used in Hindu religious functions. Wedding and festivals since centuries. In Ayuredic tests, it has various synonyms describing its virtues like kancani which renders golden tinge to the skin, nisa which is beautiful like a starry night, harita yellow, varavarnini of excellent colour varnadayi – which imparts better colour to the skin etc. Acarya Vagbhata has praised it as the drug of choice in the treatment of diabetes. The great sage Caraka has categorized it as lekhaniya – a reducing herb, varnya – complexion improving herb, visaghna anti toxin and kustha – ghna - anti – dermatosis.. Susruta has classified it under stanyasodhaka – lactodepurant. Later on, many Ayurvedic texts have categorized it as kandughna – anti – pruric, kamalanasaka alleviates jaundice, sonitasthapana – styptic and sirovirecana – cleansing nasal therapy.
Haridra is found throughout the tropical countries and specially cultivated in West Pakistan, India, Malaya and China. It is a perennial herb with a permanent, irregularly rounded or ovate root stock. It grows 60-90 cm in height. The leaves are 30-40 cm in length and 10-15 cm in breadth, midrib very strong and prominent beneath. The rhizomes 2-6 cm long and 1-2 cm thick, orange coloured and cylindric. The flowers are pale yellow in colour, in autumnal spikes. In Andhra Pradesh, haridra is cultivated on large scale, as a commercial crop.
The botanical name of haridra is Curcuma longa and it belongs to family Scitaminaceae, Zingiberaceae. A yellow pigmented fraction, isolated from the rhizomes, contains the currcumins belonging to the dicinnamoyl-methane group. Aromatic oil, turmeric oil, composed of terpene-hydrocarbon derivatives and sesquiterpene ketones has also been isolated. Curcumin isolated from rhizomes. Campesterol, stigmasterol, sitosterol, cholesterol and fatty acids isolated from rhizomes. Digydrocurcumin isolated from rhizomes. Isolation of curlone from rhizomes and its structure elucidation
Haridra is bitter and pungent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. Due to its hot potency, it alleviates kapha and vata dosas and due to its bitter taste, it alleviates the pitta dosa. In this manner it alleviates all the three dosas. It posseses dry and light attributes. Its chief properties are astringent, anti dermatosis, anti-diabetic, digestant and haemopoeitic.
Rhizomes of haridra are commonly used for diverse medicinal purposes. The herb is useful both internally as well as externally. The paste applied on traumatic wounds, effectively mitigates the pain and swelling. In skin diseases, it is a potent anti-pruritic agent and helps drying the wounds and lesions. Haridra scrub is applied on the face as a depilatory and facial tonic and is ewarding in the treatment of acne valgaris. It also results in a radiant and smooth complexion of the skin. A poultice of haridra paste with ghee or oil, applied hot, is an effective treatment for sprains, bruises, wounds and inflammatory ailments of the joints. For conjunctivitis and sore eyes, one teaspoon of haridra powder boiled with a cup of water, strained and an eye-wash is given with great benefit. The paste applied in piles, reduces the pain, oedema and eases the problem. The inhalation of its fumes relieves bronchospasm in asthma and abates the hiccup. The paste of haridra and lodhra is applied on the breasts in mastitis.
Internally, haridra is useful in various diseases. The haridra powder with hot milk and sugar is given in cough as household remedy. It alone can be given with honey. In cough, colds, asthma, heaviness in the head due to kapha and hoarseness of voice. In gastrointestinal ailments, it is effectively used in diarrhea, worms, dysentery, colitis and distaste. Haridra siddha taila – medicated oil of haridra or its decoction is an effective gargle, in order to heal the stomal ulcers and alleviate the diseases of oral cavity.
Haridra augments the metabolic fire of rasa dhatu and reconciles its functions. Stanya – breast milk, being upadhatu of rasa, gets purified with the help of paridra preparations. The herb also is well known for its blood purifying quality. It wards off the toxins from the blood and augments the haemoglobin percentage in anaemia. For this purpose, it is recommended with the curds. The combination bestows very beneficial effects as a complementary medicine for diabetes. Haridra digests the ama, kpha and meda in diabetes and reduces urinary output the decoction of haridra and daruharidra also works well as an adjunct in diabetes. Haridra was held in high esteem as an anti-diabetic, by Acarya Vagbhata. It is a
Complementary medicament for viral hepatitis, hence many market preparations consist haridra, as one of the common ingredient.
Alongwith its lactodepurant activity, it also cleanses the uterus, so is traditionally used during postpartum period. The decoction of haridra with honey, works well, to alleviate leucorrhea and vaginal diseases of kapha type. Haridra khanda paka, a popular preparation is given in postpartum period. The skin diseases like urticaria and pruritus respond very well, when haridra is given internally.
Classical Ayurvedic preparations
- Haridra khanda paka
- Haridradi kvatha
- Haridradi cuna,