Golden milk is a turmeric-based drink and currently a leading trend in health conscious eating and living. It is a popular preparation meant to be enjoyed both in the morning instead of coffee and in the evening, before sleeping. It is supposed to provide excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, improve joint swelling and pain in arthritis sufferers, boost immunity and metabolism, clear mucus, lower cholesterol and provide benefits for skin. However, golden milk is not a universally healthy preparation as both turmeric and other ingredients commonly employed to make it can exhibit side effects in certain people.
What is golden milk? Golden milk is a drink made with turmeric as the main ingredient. The original recipe employed boiled cow, goat or sheep milk (whole milk) and various spices that would add flavor and potentiate the nutritional value of golden milk, attributing additional benefits to the consumer. Nowadays, golden milk recipes substitute regular milk with plant-based milk-like options such as coconut, rice, hazelnut, almond or soy milk. If golden milk is made from turmeric paste, then hot water can be employed as the base of the drink. Golden milk can further be sweetened with anything from raw honey to stevia and brown sugar or flavored according to taste.
Difference between golden milk, turmeric tea and turmeric juice. Turmeric juice includes any form of turmeric drink, from tea to milk preparations and blends. Turmeric tea is made with freshly grated turmeric root or powder turmeric mixed with hot water and sweetened with honey, stevia, brown sugar etc. Golden milk is a special turmeric drink prepared from turmeric paste or fresh turmeric root, with a water or milk base, fats such as olive oil, coconut oil or coconut butter and spices or other natural flavorings, including black pepper, cardamom, safflower, ginger, cinnamon, raw honey, maple syrup and others. Golden milk can also be made entirely from raw ingredients.
How to make turmeric golden milk. Drinkable turmeric preparations have been used as a form of alternative medicine for thousands of years. Naturally, variations of the same recipe exist, but the choice of ingredients should follow one simple rule: make the natural compound in turmeric, curcumin, as bioavailable available as possible. So here is a variant of the original golden milk (Haldi Ka Doodh) recipe:
1) Make turmeric paste. Heat half a cup of water with half a cup of powder turmeric in a small saucepan and stir until it forms into a paste (it should take around 3 minutes, medium heat advised). Remove saucepan from heat. Add a teaspoon of ground black pepper and mix well. It is best to avoid using tap water (I use bottled water or filtered water).
2) Make golden milk with the turmeric paste. Mix 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric paste with a cup of warm boiled milk. The original recipe used whole cow, goat or sheep milk because the fat in the whole milk would help make the curcumin in turmeric more bioavailable. Different spice can be added to the preparation, including: raw honey (make sure you are not allergic), cardamom, saffron (watch out for allergies) or others. Amounts of any ingredient can be adjusted according to taste.
General recipe for how to make raw, vegan golden milk: Over medium heat, mix one cup of water or non-dairy milk (almond, cashew, coconut milk or others) with 1-2 teaspoons of powder turmeric root. Add 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or coconut butter and half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Stir until well combined and remove from heat. You can add other spices (ground ginger, cayenne pepper, saffron, cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon) and sweeten with raw honey, maple syrup, molasses, stevia, brown sugar or don’t. Drink the turmeric golden milk.
What are the properties and health benefits of turmeric golden milk? All the beneficial properties of the preparation are largely a result of the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin. Here are the real benefits of golden milk:
1) Antioxidant benefits. Studies show curcumin is an excellent antioxidant that helps reverse cell damage caused by oxidative stress, with benefits for all systems. Drinking golden milk or other turmeric preparations can help reduce overall risks of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and degenerative conditions of the nervous system in the context of an overall healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle (Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials).
2) Reduces joint inflammation and pain. Curcumin in golden milk is a strong, natural anti-inflammatory agent. Consumed regularly, it has been shown to be most helpful for arthritis sufferers, reducing joint swelling and pain and improving mobility (read more about how to manage arthritis naturally here). Studies show the anti-rheumatic activity of curcumin has no side effects and can be as effective as anti-inflammatory medication for some people. But curcumin possesses extensive anti-inflammatory properties and produces effects on the entire body, reducing overall inflammation levels.
3) Moderate analgesic properties. Turmeric acts as a natural analgesic as a result of its extensive anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to offering pain relief for arthritis sufferers, it is possible for golden milk to relieve minor muscle aches, soreness after working out, reduce swellings and benefit various conditions like skin inflammation, gum problems etc.
4) Benefits for the immune system. Drinking golden milk can be good for your health as studies show curcumin from turmeric has immuno-modulating effects and antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal action. There can be benefits for respiratory infections, reducing frequency and possibly severity of colds and flu.
5) Home remedy for phlegm. Drinking golden milk, but also turmeric tea can help clear mucus from the throat, improving symptoms of colds, flu and other respiratory infections. However, if you make your golden milk with real dairy, know that dairy causes mucus buildup when consumed every day for longer periods of time. Water or non-dairy milk options are considered far better options for when you are dealing with mucus in the nose or throat.
6) Cholesterol-lowering properties. The most pregnant cardiovascular benefit of turmeric from golden milk is its cholesterol-lowering properties. Studies show low doses of curcumin can effectively lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood (Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992;36(4):273–275).
7) Benefits for skin and metabolism. As a result of its strong anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric in golden milk can help improve various skin conditions characterized by inflammation such as acne, psoriasis or eczema. Moreover, turmeric as well as other ingredients in golden milk (pepper, cinnamon etc.) have a boosting effect on metabolism, with potential benefits for weight loss.
However, no food is universally healthy and neither is golden milk. Turmeric being the central ingredient in the healthy drink, it is the source of both great health benefits and several side effects. For example, it is possible for turmeric to act as an irritant in gastritis and acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease), worsening the conditions and amplifying symptoms as well as reduce blood clotting and encourage bleeding, which can be dangerous for pregnant women, anyone undergoing surgery etc. You can read more about the side effects of turmeric here.
Conclusion. Golden milk is a savory, turmeric-based preparation with several beneficial health effects. It can be consumed as a substitute for coffee in the morning or tea in the evening. However, it is important to remember that no food is universally healthy, so turmeric golden milk is likely not as healthy for everyone. Some people might benefit by simply adjusting its ingredients list, for example switching regular milk for non-dairy milk, but others might experience side effects from the main ingredients, turmeric and pepper, which means golden milk might not be a good option for them. Also, know that in order for golden milk to produce benefits, it requires heating the turmeric, adding various fats and black pepper, all of which represent vital steps in making curcumin in turmeric more bioavailable in view of producing the most benefits.