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Latin Binomial: Curcuma longa
Plant Part: Rhizome
Extraction: Steam Distilled
Growing Practice: Ethical
Country of Origin: India
Odor Type: SPICY

Odor Characteristic: Turmeric essential oil has a gingery-spicy, woody, warm odor profile. Arctander calls it spicy and fresh, reminiscent of sweet orange, ginger or galanga, with a slightly pungent and bitter flavor. The dry down is woody, spicy, and almost animal like.

Refractive Index: 1.4990-1.5210 @ 25.00 °C.
Specific Gravity: 0.9010-0.9710 @ 25.00 °C.
Appearance: light yellow to yellow liquid
BioChemical Class: Ketones
BioChemicals: Ketones: Ar-turmerone and turmerone (30-60%)

Sesquiterpenes: α-zingiberene (10%), Ar-curcumene (8%)
CAS No: 8024-37-1

About the Plant

Turmeric essential oil is obtained from the rhizome (root) of Turmeric Curcuma longa, a perennial plant of Family Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical South Asia; the largest production is from Tamil Nadu in India. The plant grows wild in the forests of Southeast Asia. Turmeric oil is also known as Curcuma oil and Indian Saffron oil. Burfield refers to the species as C. domestica, but according to GRIN this is a synonym.

Turmeric oil is obtained from the dried root, which contains from 1.5% up to 5% essential oil, by steam distillation or the washed, boiled. Then dried and crushed rhizomes of the plant. The oil can also be produced by hydrodistillation and solvent extraction. Turmeric oil can also be obtained from the fresh root, with a lower yield of about 0.5%.


The word "kurcuma" is derived from the Arabic word for saffron, which is a yellow dye derived from Crocus sativa, an unrelated plant.

Turmeric root in powdered form has extensive culinary, medical, cosmetic, and ceremonial uses. It provides the yellow color in Indian curry powder. It has been used in both Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine for skin problems, sounds, bruises, digestive issues, and joint pain.

Perfumery: Turmeric oil can be used to introduce warm-woody, dry-powdery tones in Oriental bases and fantasy fragrances. Turmeric oil blends will with canaga oil, cistus oil, elecampane, ginger, labdanum, orris resin, and a variety of perfume single ingredients including heliotropine and ionones

Aromatherapy: per Martin, turmeric essential oil can be used as an antiarthritic agent, as documented by laboratory trials. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. It can be added to topical blends in fairly strong dilution for use on painful joints. She also cites research that shows that the oil has expectorant properties when inhaled, and suggests it use for allergic type respiratory problems. Shepard-Hanger suggests use as an insect repellant, for wounds, and for dermatitis,

Medicinal: In recent years, extensive research has been done on the medical effects of curcumin, which consists of solid curcuminoids and is probably not the same as the essential oils.

Turmeric Essential Oil is on the FDA GRAS list, generally regarded as safe. However, it is recommended by Shepard-Hanger to Avoid Use on Sensitive or Damaged Skin, and to use diluted. Price has placed Curcuma longa on a list of oils that the French medical profession does not use because of the high ketone content that may cause "Toxic, neurotoxic, or abortive" effects. Lawless suggests that the ketone turmerone is moderately toxic and an irritant in high concentration, and there are possible sensitization problems. Tiserand/Balacs place Turmeric in the safest category except for Skin irritation, where it was placed in the "very mildly irritant" category along with most essential oils.

The information provided on these pages is not a substitute for necessary medical care, nor intended as medical advice. Always keep aromatic extracts tightly closed and in a cool, dark place, out of reach of children. Never ingest aromatic extracts. Always dilute aromatic extracts when applying topically and avoid areas around eyes or mucous membranes. If redness or irritation occurs, stop using immediately and contact your health provider if necessary.