Turmeric is the golden yellow spice used in Asian curries. It is obtained from the ginger-like rhizome of Curcuma longa, a tropical herb from India. The well-researched anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties of turmeric make it worth including in your diet. If you are not a curry fan, turmeric milk is an excellent option.
Turmeric milk is an infusion of either dry turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root (rhizome) in milk. It is traditionally used in Indian households for treating specific diseases as well as a tonic for general health. This drink is easy to prepare and highly palatable, the milk taking most of the spiciness out of turmeric. If that doesn’t convince you, the health benefits of this drink would.
1. Turmeric milk helps build immunity
Turmeric milk is an excellent tonic to improve your general immunity against a host of diseases. It is especially useful in the cold and flu season, thanks to its antiviral effect. If you’re prone to pick up infectious diseases, make a habit of having a cup of turmeric milk on an empty stomach in the morning or just before bedtime at night.
This is particularly beneficial for children who tend to bring home not only colds and the flu, but chickenpox and measles from school and the playground. Swimmers and people who take public transport or otherwise engage in activities that bring them in close contact with a lot of other people would also benefit from a regular dose of this health promoting drink.
2. Gives relief from a cough and cold
Turmeric milk is a commonly used traditional remedy for a cough, cold, and other respiratory tract infections. Turmeric increases mucus production which naturally flushes out the microbes that have managed to get a foothold in the respiratory tract. The antiviral and antibacterial properties of turmeric can help fight the infections while the anti-inflammatory property helps relieve the symptoms. A cup of warm turmeric milk before going to bed will relieve nighttime coughing and provide restful sleep.
3. It is a good remedy for digestive problems
You can tackle most of the digestive tract problems with turmeric. That could be why it came to be regarded as an important culinary spice. It improves digestion, helps relieve gas and bloating as well as heartburn resulting from gastric reflux. Turmeric increases the flow of bile, which helps in fat digestion. Loss of appetite and indigestion can be successfully treated with a cup of turmeric milk a day.
Turmeric can prevent and treat gastrointestinal infections and get rid of worms. In the tropics where intestinal parasites are very common, especially in children, turmeric milk comes to the rescue.
4. It is a liver tonic
Laboratory tests and clinical studies have demonstrated the ability of the curcumin in turmeric to prevent and reverse liver cirrhosis and fatty liver. Liver, being the chemical hub of the body, is constantly engaged in the processing of chemical substances entering the body. That includes environmental pollutants, chemical additives in processed foods and drugs taken for other disease conditions. The hepatoprotective and detoxifying action of turmeric reduces the impact of injuries to liver tissue by these toxic substances. Increasing the production of bile, it helps remove biliary obstructions too.
5. It is an excellent blood purifier
Turmeric has always been regarded as an excellent detoxifying agent. Our body has to deal with an onslaught of toxins that enter the blood through our food and drink as well as the respiratory tract. They can damage not only the blood vessels but all the other tissues that the contaminated blood reaches.
Toxins in the blood are the underlying causes of many abnormal skin conditions and other diseases. Turmeric helps the elimination of blood impurities by improving the function of the liver which is entrusted with the duty of identifying these toxins and finding a way to eliminate them. Moreover, the diuretic effect of turmeric helps flush out these toxins through urine.
6. Clarifies the skin
Turmeric has been used externally as a beauty aid because of the visible changes it produces on the skin. It makes the skin smooth, removes fine lines and other signs of premature aging, reduces acne, and lightens scars. Internal use further enhances these effects and makes the skin clear of liver spots, rosacea and skin eruptions.
Taking turmeric milk regularly gives tremendous relief to eczema sufferers. Eczema is often considered as a skin problem, but it has deeper roots, probably issues with immune responses and toxin accumulation in the body. The immune modulating effect of turmeric and its detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties ease symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
7. Gives relief from autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases stem from the faulty action of our immune system which is supposed to protect us from foreign agents like pathogenic microbes and toxic substances. For some unexplained reasons, the immune system turns against our own tissues and organs, and that results in autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, psoriasis etc. The treatment of these diseases in mainstream medicine is limited to suppression of symptoms since the exact causes cannot be identified.
People often report not only relief of symptoms but long-term remissions, or even complete cure, with alternative treatments with herbals. Turmeric scores high in this regard, especially in the case of problems with the digestive system, skin, and joints. Turmeric milk is a convenient way to derive the immune-modulating benefits of this wonderful herb.
8. It’s a good headache remedy
A cup of warm turmeric milk can ease headaches whether it is due to sinus congestion or stress. Turmeric increases mucus flow as well as lightens its texture, promoting sinus drainage.
The blood thinning effect of turmeric is well known, as you can see from the frequent warning to avoid it if you are taking other blood thinners. Thinning of blood naturally improves blood circulation, so people suffering from frequent headaches and migraine would do well drinking turmeric milk regularly.
9. Reduces arthritic pain
Relief from arthritic pain is one of the most common reasons for a large majority of people turning to herbal remedies like turmeric. If external application of capsaicin gives temporary pain relief, taking turmeric internally can make it still better. Anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric could be at work here, but if you find dairy worsening your symptoms, prepare turmeric with coconut milk instead.
10. Improves reproductive health of women
Turmeric acts as a mild phytoestrogen, promoting the reproductive health of females. It increases fertility in women who have trouble conceiving due to hormonal insufficiency. Women with painful periods find relief with turmeric milk taken during the week of their period. It relieves post-menopausal symptoms too.
Although turmeric reduces the pain associated periods, it is a uterine stimulant that promotes the free flow of menstrual discharge. For this reason, turmeric in therapeutic doses should be avoided during pregnancy.
11. It has anticancer properties
The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to kill cancer cells (apoptosis) and prevent their spread to other areas (metastasis) in laboratory studies. It is found to be effective against cancers of the breast, prostate, skin, colon, and lung. Many cancerous growths go undetected and untreated in the initial stages when it would have been much easier to stop them in their tracks. Drinking turmeric milk regularly may help prevent malignant growths as well as stop their progress in the early stages.
12. It is a good sleep aid
Drinking warm milk at bedtime is a well-known remedy for insomnia on account of the amino acid tryptophan which can increase serotonin levels in the brain. This neurotransmitter chemical is associated with relaxation, calm mood, and sleepiness. Milk contains tryptophan, but its bioavailability to the brain is usually low because of other competing amino acids present in the milk. Turmeric can change that.
Turmeric is known to elevate insulin levels in the blood, which, in turn, increases the intake of competing amino acids into body tissues. However, it leaves tryptophan alone, making it available to the brain for the production of serotonin. That can explain why turmeric milk is even more beneficial than plain milk in inducing sleep.
How to prepare turmeric milk
Turmeric milk is ideally prepared with full-fat milk. You can use skimmed milk, but milk fat, or any kind of fat or oil for that matter, aids the absorption of turmeric constituents. Sweeten turmeric milk with sugar for children but a pinch of crushed black pepper adds to the flavor. Moreover, piperine in black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin.
Preparing turmeric milk with turmeric powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup water
- 2-3 black peppercorns
Warm milk and water over low heat and stir in the turmeric powder. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. This will reduce the milk to one cup. Turn off the heat and add crushed black pepper. Drink the milk hot or warm.
With fresh turmeric root (rhizome)
- 1” piece of fresh turmeric
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup water
- 2-3 black peppercorns
Grate or crush the turmeric and add to milk and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add crushed pepper and keep aside for 5 minutes. Strain turmeric milk into a cup and drink it warm.
Quick fix turmeric milk
You need not forego your turmeric fix even when you’re hard pressed for time. This quick fix recipe is for such occasions.
Take 1 tsp butter or coconut oil in a small pan (a large ladle will do) and add ½ tsp turmeric powder to it. Keep it over low heat, stirring the mixture vigorously until the fat melts completely. Stir it into a cup of warm milk and drink.
Can you buy turmeric milk?
You can purchase this Gaia Herbs Golden Milk which is a blend of turmeric, cardamom, ashwagandha that you simply stir into a cup of warm milk.
The next time you scan over your spices in the cupboard, don’t forget to remember turmeric and all of its amazing therapeutic properties.
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