Among the crops used by humankind, the history of spices is perhaps the most adventurous, the most fascinating, and the most romantic. In the misty distant past, when the primitive man was roaming around the forests in search of food and shelter, he might have tested and tasted many roots and leaves and might have selected those that were aromatic and spicy as of special value and used them to propitiate his primitive gods to save him from the raging storm, thunder, lightning, and rain. Out of the misty darkness of that distant past, the early civilizations blossomed when man settled down and started practicing agriculture. In all civilizations, the aromatic plants were given special status, and many were probably used as offerings to gods. Gradually, man might have started using them for curing various illnesses and, in the course of time, spices and aromatic plants acquired magical associations about their properties. Among all the civilizations, it was in the Indian and Chinese where that profound knowledge gradually evolved in the use of plants and plant products for the treatment of human ailments.
Turmeric has been valued as a source of medicine and color in the whole of South Asia, from ancient times. Probably man would have been attracted to this plant due to its attractive color and in due course, it acquired many religious and sociocultural associations. For the ancient people of India, turmeric was the “ Oushadhi — the medicinal herb,” and possibly it might have played a great role in the day-to-day life of ancient Indians as a wound healer, as a medicine for stomach ache, flatulence, poison, etc., for dyeing clothes and yarns, and for worshipping their gods and goddesses. This plant has acquired great importance in the present-day world with its antiaging, anticancer, anti-Alzheimer’s, antioxidant, and a variety of other medicinal properties. This volume is the first comprehensive monographic treatment on turmeric. It covers all aspects of turmeric — botany, genetic resources, crop improvement, chemistry, biotechnology, production technology, post harvest and processing, pharmacology, medicinal uses, traditional uses, and its use as a spice and a flavorant. There is also a chapter on related economically important species.
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