TAMPA (FOX 13) - Dan Johnson's turmeric crop is helping to meet the demands of a modern day health craze. Last year, he grew 30,000 pounds of turmeric for his company Advanced Healing Organics.
Soon his 7-acre Odessa farm will more than double its harvest.
"It's been used for cosmetics, it's used in beverages a lot right now, the leaves and the actual root both have health benefits," says Johnson.
Turmeric was first used in medicine 4,000 years ago.
University of South Florida's Shyam Mohapatra says there is limited scientific proof to support the hype over the spice.
"The way turmeric works is simply by reducing inflammation," he explains. He takes half-teaspoon, or about 500 mg, twice a day with a glass of milk.
Inflammation is associated with arthritis, asthma, cancers, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. But Mohapatra warns, if you’re popping the brightly colored spice daily as a supplement, you may be wasting your money. Very little is absorbed by the body.
"Amazingly it's very very small. Only about one to two percent is available to your system," he says.
Mohapatra believes turmeric spice works best when consumed regularly and mixed with oil in dishes like curry or taken with milk.
"You take it three to six months, I'd be surprised if you don't see a benefit," he said.
Meanwhile, business for Johnson is blossoming; a growth fueled by demand.
"Turmeric is fairly easy to grow, it likes humidity," he explains. "People are getting very creative on how they can use it or what they can use it in."