A riddle: What is an often misspelled and mispronounced plant within the ginger family, native to the tropical climates of South Asia, that is believed to do everything from warding off snakes and purifying blood to treating depression and preventing cancer?  See if you can fill in the _____ below:

Although the world is just waking up to the magic of _____, Indians have known it all along.  You will rarely find a kitchen in India without a can of ______ powder on the shelves.  One of the oldest recorded spices, it is widely used as an inexpensive substitute for saffron, and its peppery, bitter flavor often crops up in curry cuisines. As a yellow-hued food additive, _____ both protects packaged products from sunlight and compensates for fading in pickled foods.  Beyond giving color to food, _____ is recognized as a body cleanser with many medicinal properties.

In the branch of Ayurvedic medicine, ______ is a well-known "spice of life" added to drug preparations and to foods that are difficult to digest.  People take a capsule of ______ extract for all sorts of remedies, including building resistance, improving circulation, and aiding digestion.  Known for both anti-inflammatory and antibiotic benefits, ______ is mixed in creams and added to milk and honey for treating the common cold. ______ is the most commonly used at-home antiseptic remedy in India for day-to-day bruises, burns, and cuts.

Its cosmetic purposes run the gamut from lightening skin to removing superfluous hair to curing eczema, psoriasis, and acne.  In India, newborn babies are rubbed with _____ powder on their foreheads for good luck, and brides are adorned with a paste several days before their wedding to ensure blemish-free skin.  It is believed that regular bathing in water rich with ______ reduces the growth of body hair.  A recent study found that ______ reduces skin irritation and sting caused by AHA products (perhaps NeoStrata should consider incorporating it into their glycolic acid formulations).

Western research is just now uncovering the magical benefits of ______ that Indian traditional knowledge has harbored for centuries.   Studies demonstrate that ______ may be a critical component in preventing cancer, treating liver disorders, alleviating depression, and fighting diseases like Alzheimer's and other neural disorders.  What is it...and what can't it do?

See below for the answer...

Related articles that reference _______:
What is it: Sepiwhite
Mychelle Fruit Enzyme Mist
Food for Thought

If you guessed Turmeric, you got it right! Great job to all our readers who responded correctly, and congratulations to Robin Y. who won some Conditioning Lip Balm with Turmeric by Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins.