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White Turmeric (Curcuma Zedoaria)

White Turmeric (Curcuma Zedoaria)

What is White Turmeric (Curcuma Zedoaria)?

White Turmeric (e zhu, 莪术), also known as Zedoray Rhizome or Temu Putih, is the root of the Curcuma Zedoaria plant. It is a perennial herb that is native to India and Indonesia, and it is cultivated in Europe and the US today. The rhizome has brown skin and a bright orange, hard interior that is similar to a mango. The rhizomes are harvested in the Autumn and Winter, cleansed, boiled then dried before being cut into slices for medicinal usage.

During Medieval times, White Turmeric was appreciated in the spice trade because people thought that its aroma was a combination of mango, turmeric and ginger. The plant was stated in Roman de la Rose’s 13th century poem, and was extolled by Nicolas Culpeper, a 17th century herbalist, for its ability to fight poison, expel Wind, kill worms and help the colic.

In the sixth century, White Turmeric was introduced to Europe by Arabs as a spice, but it is increasingly replaced by ginger today. White Turmeric is still often used in Asia cuisines, such as the curry dishes in Indonesia and salads in Thailand. Its flavour is very similar to that of ginger, but with a more bitter after-taste and lighter flesh.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), White Turmeric falls under the category of ‘Herbs that invigorate the Blood’. Herbs in this category tend to stimulate blood flow. In TCM, such herbs can help the circulation of blood, relieve cardiovascular conditions, menstrual irregularities and to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation.

Warm in nature, White Turmeric can help people who have too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Bitter and pungent, the herb can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness, promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. White Turmeric can also promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, the herb targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Functions and Benefits of White Turmeric (Curcuma Zedoaria)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that White Turmeric has the following health benefits.

White Turmeric can invigorate qi and relieve Blood Stagnation. By attacking and breaking masses down, the herb can dissolve Blood Stasis, move Stagnant Qi and alleviate pain. The herb is thus indicated for amenorrhea, stagnant pain in the heart and abdomen due to Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis. Also, the herb can treat menstrual cramps.

White Turmeric can relieve food stagnation, alleviate severe distention and pain in the epigastrium and abdomen caused by undigested food as well. The herb can be combined with other qi-moving analgesics and digestion-promoting herbs to enhance its effects.

In addition, White Turmeric can resolve swelling, which is why it is also indicated for traumatic injuries, congestion, swelling and pain. 

Other than the above benefits, White Turmeric is often used to treat digestive problems, especially the ones that occur in the gastrointestinal tract. The herb is beneficial in the treatment of colic, indigestion, spasms, loss of appetite, infestation of worms, flatulence, irregular bowel movement and tastelessness. It is also a natural aid in preventing stress-related ulceration.

Possessing powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, White Turmeric can strengthen one’s immune system, treat inflammation, wounds and other skin ailments. In Indonesian Folk Medicine, the herb can treat inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis) and protect asthmatic patients’ lungs to a certain extent. The diuretic properties of White Turmeric also helps to lower the body’s temperature when you are experiencing a fever by purging infectious microbes and promoting sweat. The herb is also an excellent natural treatment for knee pain. Not only that, some also use White Turmeric for skin to improve skin health and soothe skin.

White Turmeric is believed to reduce microbes in the mouth, inhibit fungal activity in the human body, and act as a potential antidote to inhibit the activity of snake venom as well. Some research has suggested that this herb has the potential to address cancer symptoms, such as colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, as it may inhibit the spread of cancer from organ to organ. However, this still requires more research to be validated. 

Eating White Turmeric may also help to lower blood level sugars. In addition, the herb may help to treat female complaints such as leucorrhea, menstrual cramps and irregular menstruation.

Some have also used White Turmeric as an aphrodisiac and in the treatment of sexual problems such as infertility, erectile dysfunction, and the strengthening of uterine muscles. Some also use Curcuma Zedoaria to whiten teeth.

How to Use White Turmeric (Curcuma Zedoaria)

The recommended daily dosage of White Turmeric is 3 – 10g, depending on the exact health condition being treated. Some healthcare practitioners recommend a form of White Turmeric Tea made from 1 – 1.5g of crushed or powdered herb and a cup of boiling water. This tea is usually taken with meals or just before eating.

White Turmeric is often available in the following two forms: White Turmeric powder or sliced and dried White Turmeric. The former is found in herbal shops, and the latter can be found in Asian markets. 

In India, the fresh roots of this herb are used directly in dishes and pickles. In Indonesia, White Turmeric pieces are dehydrated, oven or air-dried before being powdered for use as a dried spice. In Thailand, the young roots of this herb are used as a vegetable and in curry pastes. Fresh White Turmeric can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The peeled root can be frozen for up to six months.

You can process the herb with vinegar to further enhance its effects in breaking blood and dispelling Blood Stasis. However, to move qi and alleviate pain, use the unprocessed herb.

The paste of the Curcuma Zedoaria can also be applied externally to alleviate pain. Its essential oil is used in aromatherapy as well as digestive aid.

Close up White turmeric (Curcuma zedoaria)
White turmeric is a Warm herb that can help to relieve menstrual pain.

Cautions and Side Effects of White Turmeric (Curcuma Zedoaria)

White Turmeric should not be used by patients experiencing excessive menstruation, pregnant women or breastfeeding women. Patients who are taking blood-thinning medications or blood pressure medications should also speak to their healthcare provider before taking this herb.


Here is a summary for White Turmeric:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 莪术
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): é zhù
  • Herb name (English): White Turmeric / Zedoray Rhizome
  • Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma Curcumae
  • Origin of species: Curcuma phaeocaulis Valeton; Curcuma kwangsiensis S. G. Lee et C. F. Liang; Curcuma wenyujin Y. H. Chen et C. Ling
  • Part(s) of herb used: Rhizome
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Sichuan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Zhejiang
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Warm; Administrates the Spleen and Liver Meridians
  • Actions: Eases menstrual pain; Relieves abdominal pain due to indigestion

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