Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Wonder Herb - Olena

Over one pound of Turmeric Root

Close-up of the rhizomes

I have been reading and hearing so much about one of my favorite spices...Turmeric. It is called 'Olena in Hawaiian and the scientific name is Curcuma domestica I usually associated this bright yellow powered spice with curries or for added color in Peruvian Papa a la Huancaina. But little did I know just how essential this plant is to good health!

Upon learning that this root or rhizome can be grown in Hawaii, I started my search for it. I tried local Asian stores but had no luck. I had never seen one in person but from pictures it looked a lot like ginger root but more orange-y in color. I finally found a vendor in Chinatown that sells the Turmeric root. I purchased a pound of Olena. When I got home and did more research on planting it, I found that I may have bought too much. But no worries! I plan on using the fresh root for other purposes.

Dr. Weil, just about everyone's favorite health guru highly recommends Turmeric tea for good health. He learned about it one one of his many trips to Okinawa where the people live very long and healthy lives. You can read all about Turmeric Tea here.

The ancient Hawaiians also knew the benefits of this incredible plant.

Traditionally, this root can be used medicinally. The roots are pounded and pressed to extract a juice that, when mixed with water, is helpful in earaches and to clear the sinuses through nasal application. The astringent qualities of `olena are also useful in cases of consumption, tuberculosis, bronchitis, colds and asthma, the root being lightly cooked and then eaten. Its use enhances the immune system by purifying the blood. At times `olena has been taken as a diuretic, and topically it can be helpful with pimples or to stop bleeding. Turmeric is anti-bacterial. Also, when taken daily, as a teaspoon or powder in food, tea or encapsulated, this plant offers relief from a variety of diseases. It alleviates inflammation in the blood, often considered to be a cause of our human diseases.
You can read more about 'Olena here.

The weather in Hawaii has been very stormy so I will not be able to plant the 'Olena rhizomes yet. Even after I do plant it, it will take a long time for the plant to grow. But I think with everything that is worthwhile, patience is always a requirement.

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