What if there was a beverage you could enjoy daily that could significantly change how you feel from the moment you got out of bed until the minute you put your head back on the pillow again? Does this sound like a tall order…or a tall tale? Well, get out a tall mug, because you are about to learn about what is sometimes referred to as golden milk, also known as Haldi ka doodh or turmeric milk.
In the Ayurvedic tradition, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of the most revered and commonly used herbs for medicinal purposes because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also is a traditional spice in Indian and Asian foods and the basis of curries. When you combine turmeric with milk and often a few other healthful ingredients, the result is a beverage frequently used as a general tonic as well as a remedy for specific diseases and health challenges.
The most basic form of this beverage is made with milk, which can be cow’s milk but often coconut milk or other plant beverages are used, along with an infusion of dry turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root and a small piece of minced ginger. This mixture can be consumed as is or added to smoothies, curries, soups, or pastas. Variations include added coconut oil, black pepper, honey, and/or cinnamon. Other possibilities include ashwagandha and cardamom. Each of these ingredients complements as well as enhances the health benefits of the golden milk experience.
Benefits of turmeric milk
Here are some of the special characteristics and benefits provided by each of the ingredients in turmeric milk.
Turmeric. Scores of research studies have identified the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of this herb, which make it an excellent immune system booster. The active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, is responsible for fighting inflammation and thus can assist in managing allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Some evidence has emerged indicating that turmeric/curcumin may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (the number one killer of men and women in the United States) as well as reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Would you like to banish belly aches, indigestion, and bloating? Sipping turmeric/curcumin tonics may do the trick. The authors of a new (2018) study out of Brazil have suggested that use of curcumin may become an alternative treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. Want some helping losing extra pounds? Curcumin interferes with the growth of fat tissue and reduces weight gain.
Ginger. This delightful herb is a potent anti-inflammatory that works well with turmeric in this mixture. Ginger also helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids with digestion, and can ease symptoms of the common cold and flu.
Coconut milk. When you strain coconut “meat” from coconut water, you get a thicker beverage that is referred to as coconut milk. This slightly sweet liquid contains lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) fatty acid that the body uses for energy. Although the fatty acids in coconuts are mainly saturated fats, they actually lower your cholesterol levels rather than raise them.
Coconut milk also can help lower blood pressure and prevent stroke and heart attacks. Because coconut milk is dairy-free, grain-free, and nut-free, it is a suitable option for anyone who has these food challenges. Research also shows that medium-chain triglycerides boost physical performance and increase energy expenditure, which means it can help with weight loss.
Coconut oil. Similar to coconut milk, coconut oil provides MCTs, which are transported directly to the liver after you ingest them. That’s where they are used as a quick energy source or transformed into ketones, which are being researched for use in Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and other serious conditions.
Black pepper. If you want to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin and its anti-inflammatory powers, add black pepper to your turmeric milk.
Numerous alternatives to the traditional turmeric milk recipe exist. Two alternative recipes follow…and there are more available on the Internet and various cookbooks! Feel free to experiment.
8 oz unsweetened coconut or almond beverage
8 oz water
½ inch piece ginger, sliced thin
1 Tbs honey
2 inch cinnamon stick
1 inch piece turmeric, sliced thin or ½ tsp dried turmeric
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
In a small sauce pan, whisk together all of the ingredients and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve and enjoy.
2 inches of fresh turmeric root
1 peeled lemon
1 peeled orange or grapefruit
1 pinch of black pepper
¼ tsp ground ginger
2 cups coconut or almond milk
Process all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Enjoy alone or add to a smoothie, soup, or other recipe.
Cunha Neto F et al. Curcuminoids from Curcuma longa: new adjuvants for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis? Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2018 Mar 22: 1-8
Ejaz A et al. Curcumin inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-Li adipocytes and angiogenesis and obesity in C57/BL mice. Journal of Nutrition 2009 May; 139(5): 919-25
Health Line. Top 10 evidence-based health benefits of coconut oil.