The dried rhizomes of a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. Turmeric is bitter and pungent and used to colour sops, condiments, pickled foods and in the preparation of meat. Turmeric and its active essential constituent curcumin have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects which it exerts by directly dampening down mechanisms involved in the inflammatory process. This helps explain its use in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, to treat sprains and arthritis.