This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Curcuma Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Curcuma radice longa Herm. hort. lugd. bat. Mani-ella kua Hort. malabar. Crocus indicus; Terra merita; Cypira. Curcuma longa Linn. Turmeric: a small tuberous knotty root, brought from the East Indies; externally greyish, internally of a deep lively yellow or aaffron colour, which by age changes towards a red. Two sorts are mentioned by authors, one longish, the other roundish: only the first is met with in the shops.
Turmeric has a slight, aromatic, and not very agreeable smell; and a bitterish somewhat warm taste. It readily gives out its active matter both to aqueous and spirituous menstrua: to the former it communicates its own deep yellow, to the latter a fine yellowish red tincture. In distillation with water, it yields a small quantity of a gold coloured essential oil, of a moderately strong smell, and a pungent taste: the remaining decoction, infpiffated, leaves a bitterish, considerably saline, mass. Rectified spirit elevates little or nothing of its virtue; all the active parts of the root being left behind in the infpiffated extract, which is moderately warm, and bitter, and not a little nauseous.
This root is said to be in general use in the eastern countries, both for the colouring and seasoning of food, and as a medicine: it is accounted one of the most effectual remedies in obstructions of the viscera and mesentery, which are there frequnt; in uterine disorders, difficulties of urine, and affections of the kidnies(a). Among us it has been employed also as a deob-flruent, and esteemed by some a specific in the jaundice: the dose in substance is from a scruple to a dram; in decoction or infusion, twice as much. It tinges the urine of a deep yellow colour.