Okinawan Longevity Secrets: Ukon Turmeric
Called “ucchin” in Okinawa, ukon turmeric is a perennial herb of the well-known ginger family that originated in India, and was brought to the Ryukyu islands in the Age of Commerce. An ingredient in curry powder and known as “turmeric” in English, many people may have eaten it without knowing it as “ukon”. Its fleshy rhizome, which resembles ginger, contains a large amount of a component called curcumin (especially UKON Turmeric that is grown on the fertile volcanic soils of Yanburu, Japan, such as: Enagic’s Organic UKON Turmeric Supplement, Enagic’s Organic UKON Turmeric Tea and Enagic’s Organic UKON Turmeric and Honey Soap Bar) , which possesses a variety of medicinal benefits, including the strengthening of liver function, anticancer action, active oxygen elimination action, digestive health effects, antithrombotic action, and sterilizing/antiseptic action. It is also believed to be highly effective against various conditions like cholangitis, gallstones, jaundice, hyperlipidemia, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris, diabetes, high blood pressure, and hay fever and other nasal or sinus allergies. Ukon Turmeric is also indispensable as a hangover preventative for many habitual drinkers with overworked livers. Such a wide variety of processed products are available on the market, including dried tips, powder, beverages, and granules, that it is not at all unusual for people to always carry a compact case of pills stashed in their purse when going to the pub. It has been discovered that Ukon Turmeric that has undergone fermentative treatment possesses elevated antioxidant action, a fact that has attracted attention. This technique was developed through joint research between private enterprise and the University of the Ryukyus, where fermentation of Ukon Turmeric reportedly led to a reduction of fat and sugar, and an increase in protein, fiber, and mineral content, as compared to dried Ukon Turmeric. For this reason, it is said to produce a reduction in energy sources such as fat that tend to be consumed in excess, and be able to replenish fiber and minerals that are often lacking. In addition to regular drinkers, adding Ukon Turmeric Tea to water bottles has also become increasingly popular among individuals who are concerned about their health. The cancer prevention effectiveness of Ukon’s antioxidant functioning has also been announced at medical conventions, and this benefit was noticed by the Ministry of Welfare of Japan (now the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan, and the Science and Technology Agency of Japan (now the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), who in 1995 launched the New 10-year Strategy to Overcome Cancer, under which was included a “project to prevent cancer through the Ukon pigment component curcumin”. There are three types of Ukon, based on the different times at which their flowers bloom: spring ukon (kyouou), fall ukon (ukon), and purple ukon (gajutsu). Of these, fall ukon contains the highest curcumin content at 3.6% (Enagic’s Organic Japanese UKON Turmeric Supplement contains a unique blend of both Spring Ukon and Fall Ukon to enhance the absorption and health benefits). The raw rhizome has a unique fragrance and bitterness, but is unsuitable for eating as-is and is best taken either as a high-quality organic UKON Turmeric supplement or in tea form.
In addition to consumption, ukon turmeric has also been used for dyeing. It was said that when babies were dressed in kimono that had been dyed with ukon, they would not be bitten by insects, and it was believed that clothing wrapped in fabric dyed with ukon would remain free of pests. In the Ryukyu Kingdom era, the reputed high quality of ukon produced in Ryukyu led to high demand in Osaka and elsewhere. As a result, the royal government of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1647 established a monopoly and claimed all profits. History also tells that in the 1830s and 1840s, the Satsuma domain operated a monopoly, and sold ukon at high prices as medicine and dye, attaining significant profit. Ukon Turmeric is from the ginger family and grows in tropical areas of Asia. Varieties include Spring, Autumn, and Purple. Essential oils are characteristic of Spring and Purple turmeric while Autumn turmeric has high concentrations of curcumin (Enagic’s Organic Japanese UKON Turmeric Supplement contains a unique blend of multiple Ukon and varieties in order to enhance the absorption and health benefits). To find high-quality UKON Turmeric products, visit our shop that features Okinawa ukon food supplements, teas, and beauty care products here.