If you haven’t tried golden milk yet, you’re missing out since it’s a creamy yet lactose-free hot milk drink packed with health benefits.
Sometimes, you can combine health goals and deliciousness, after all!
What Is Golden Milk?
Golden milk or turmeric milk is a traditional Indian drink currently gaining popularity in the Western world due to its potential health benefits.
Accordingly, it is known in India as an alternative remedy to strengthen the immune system and relieve ailments such as:
- Upset stomachs
The warm golden yellow drink is a lively mixture of heated almond (or coconut) milk, turmeric, ginger, and pepper.
Accordingly, turmeric milk can cheer you up in the morning, calm you down in the evening, or ease sore throats.
Also, many people drink golden milk instead of dessert, as some recipes contain cinnamon and honey.
However, those who drink golden milk for its health benefits should avoid honey and cow’s milk.
Either way, turmeric is the dominant flavor in the warming drink. Although the root is not spicy, its earthy taste is a sound basis for other spices. For this reason, it’s curry powder’s main ingredient.
Moreover, ginger and pepper do not taste dominant in this traditional recipe, as they bathe in creamy turmeric milk. If you find golden milk bitter, I recommend adding cinnamon.
Besides a certain sweetness, the Christmas spice has positive health effects, so you don’t have to economize with it.
Golden Milk Health Benefits
Since golden milk is an alternative remedy of Ayurvedic medicine because of its numerous benefits, here are nine science-backed reasons why it can be healthy.
1. Reduces Inflammation
The ingredients for this simple golden milk recipe are the perfect mix yielding natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric is the essential ingredient of golden milk. This yellow spice, popular in Asian cuisine, gives curry, for example, its yellow color.
Due to curcumin, a primary turmeric compound, the root has strong anti-inflammatory properties and bright orange color.
Accordingly, studies even claim that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties have medicinal qualities without the undesirable side effects of common drugs (Lao et al. 20061).
Against this background, chronic inflammation is a significant contributor to the development of ubiquitous diseases, such as
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Mental disorders
Although curcumin is already one of the most potent, purely natural anti-inflammatory compounds, it can have an even more substantial effect combined with black pepper.
Because there is piperine in pepper, it can increase the absorption of curcumin by the body by a factor of 20 (Shoba et al. 19982).
In addition to the centuries of use in Ayurvedic medicine and many animal experiments, human studies now confirm the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin (Chainani-Wu 20033).
Besides turmeric, part of the ginger family, golden milk benefits from the effects of ginger.
Studies confirm that ginger is an anti-inflammatory food that it can even replace drugs. However, ginger causes significantly fewer side effects (Grzanna et al. 20154).
2. Prevents Cell Damage
The curcuminoids in turmeric have outstanding antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For this reason, Ayurvedic medicine has used turmeric for centuries (Nagpal et al. 20135).
Nevertheless, the real powerhouse is the main ingredient, turmeric. An ORAC value of over 127000 gives golden milk the potential to prevent cell damage.
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) stands for a food’s ability to neutralize free oxygen radicals.
Free radicals carry an additional oxygen molecule that causes damage to tissues with which it comes into contact.
With this in mind, curcuminoids can scavenge free radicals more than five times stronger than vitamins C and E. Moreover, they can absorb the free hydroxyl radicals, considered the most reactive free radicals (Menon et al. 20078).
Consequently, golden milk’s health benefits can help prevent many diseases, from bronchitis to insulin resistance to depression.
Furthermore, curcumin helps to protect healthy tissue and thus slows down the aging process.
3. Relieves Pain
Due to our sedentary work style and high-stress levels, more people suffer from pain.
Again, curcumin can help, as it can mitigate the following types of pain:
- Joint pain
- Bone and muscle pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Menstrual Pain
Moreover, ginger in golden milk is also known for its effect against severe menstrual cramps and postoperative pain (Rayati et al. 20179).
For this reason, scientists suggest ginger works as well as ibuprofen (Daily et al. 201510).
Further studies also claim that curcumin reduces pain and swelling in joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis (Chandran et al. 201211).
4. Fights Off Bacteria and Viruses
As golden milk is often used in India as a household remedy due to its effect against colds, it strengthens the immune system.
Furthermore, studies suggest that curcumin in golden milk has antibacterial and antiviral properties to help fight infections (Moghadamtousi et al. 201412).
5. Improves Brain Function
Also, for biohackers who want to increase brain power, the benefits of golden milk can help. On the other hand, it can also help to prevent age-related dementia.
Curcumin can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) release, which is responsible for forming new nerve cells in the brain (Xu et al. 200617).
For this reason, curcumin can help with depression, stress, and even Alzheimer’s disease (Mishra et al. 200818).
So if your goal is to improve performance at work or university, there are good reasons why curcumin could help.
- Alleviate anxiety and depression
- Prevent neurodegenerative diseases
- Promote mental health
- Increase healthspan
Accordingly, research suggests that curcumin could reverse age-related limitations in brain function.
6. Helps to Prevent Cancer
According to countless studies, curcumin is a promising means of preventing cancer and effectively limiting tumor growth (Takada et al. 200424).
Accordingly, curcumin can selectively kill cancer cells (Ravindran et al. 200925).
Besides, anticancer properties are one of ginger’s health benefits (Poltronieri et al. 201426).
Also, scientists suggest that cinnamon, another ingredient, reduces cancer cells’ growth (Koh et al. 199827).
Nonetheless, caution is paramount in preventing and treating a disease like cancer.
Therefore, always follow the recommendations of the doctor you trust.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Let’s stay with ginger and cinnamon because these ingredients can also help lower blood sugar levels.
Accordingly, even the daily addition of fresh ginger to tea can lower blood sugar by more than 10%. Moreover, studies have shown ginger can reduce hemoglobin A1C, a long-term blood sugar indicator, by 10% (Khandouzi et al. 201528).
However, you must be aware that turmeric milk only has a chance of lowering blood sugar if it is unsweetened. Besides honey, cow’s milk in golden milk also can cause blood sugar to spike.
For this reason, I recommend using almond or coconut milk instead. The latter also makes the golden milk exceptionally creamy.
The addition of cinnamon, however, can have a positive effect on blood sugar. For example, even less than 5 grams of cinnamon daily can lower blood sugar levels by almost 30%.
If insulin sensitivity increases, cells absorb more glucose from the blood, and blood sugar levels can decline.
8. Protects Against Cardiovascular Diseases
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. Nevertheless, it is in your hands to prevent heart disease.
Once again, curcumin in golden milk can prevents heart disease due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Improve vascular functions
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevent heart attacks and strokes
9. Promotes Skin Health
Our skin serves as the first line of defense against viruses and toxins in our environment and a primary organ for the body’s detoxification.
Thus, due to the influence of unnatural foods, many people suffer from skin problems.
As it improves wound healing and reduces skin inflammation and infections, curcumin can provide relief once again (Nguyen et al. 201333).
Moreover, turmeric’s health benefits in golden milk can reduce acne, psoriasis, or eczema (Vaughn et al. 201634).
For this reason, soaps and other skin care products containing turmeric are flooding the market.
Are There Known Side Effects?
Turmeric is generally considered safe and can be consumed as a spice, tea, or milk without severe side effects.
However, some people may experience the following side effects in isolated cases:
- Upset stomach
However, these rare side effects of golden milk are usually associated with excessive consumption.
For example, this can happen through the additional intake of turmeric supplements, which are unsuitable for pregnant women.
Because of the potential high dosage, supplements can promote gallstones or kidney stones due to turmeric oxalates.
Moreover, some people may be allergic to turmeric, although turmeric allergies are relatively rare.
When Should I Drink Golden Milk?
When you should drink turmeric milk depends on your individual everyday life.
Unless you are on a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule, it is a warming eye-opener in the morning that can replace breakfast.
Moreover, golden milk can be a healthy alternative to desserts and round off both lunch and dinner.
Furthermore, golden milk is related to turmeric tea and its effects, so it is drunk between tea times.
In short, you can hardly use any other drink in that many ways.
The Best Recipe
In my experience, (canned) coconut milk and unsweetened almond milk are the perfect basis for creamy golden milk.
Accordingly, you can make a mixture of both or use only almond milk if you want a lighter consistency or only coconut milk if you want it to be heavier.
Besides, coconut milk and coconut oil can add healthy fats to the drink, which allows the body to absorb curcumin better due to its fat solubility.
Also, black pepper is mandatory, as it increases curcumin’s bioavailability enormously (Shoba et al. 199835).
Since I have tried fresh and ground turmeric, I have to say that the latter tastes better.
Furthermore, canned coconut milk should be oil-free but still have a high natural fat content, which makes the yellow turmeric milk creamier and perfect for a keto diet.
Simple Golden Milk (Vegan, Keto, Traditional)
- 1 cup Almond or Coconut Milk (or both)
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 slice Ginger (0.5 inches thick, finely chopped)
- 1 pinch Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon (ground, optional)
- 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Grass-Fed Butter (optional)
- 1 pinch Chili (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Honey (optional)
- Warm coconut or almond milk in a small pot at medium heat.
- Add the remaining ingredients in a large cup and mix.
- Dribble a teaspoon of the warmed milk into the cup and mix until the liquid is smooth and lump-free.
- Add the remaining milk and mix well. The remaining ginger pieces can stay in the cup or be strained.
- Last but not least, you can season the golden milk to taste and add optional spices.
The Bottom Line
Although it is not a miracle cure that can replace professional treatments, many people have had good golden milk experiences as a natural remedy.
According to studies, it can reduce the risks of those diseases that are significant causes of death. The preventive benefits of golden milk range from cardiovascular diseases to cancer to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
However, do not buy ready-made mixtures; the ingredients will hardly flatter your health.
Moreover, golden milk is healthy if it is unsweetened and prepared neither with oat nor cow’s milk, as these ingredients cause your blood sugar to skyrocket.
Furthermore, oat milk’s fat is usually highly inflammatory canola oil, inhibiting golden milk’s potential health benefits.
I avoid cashew and soy milk since their lectin content harms gut health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it good to drink turmeric milk everyday?
On the one hand, drinking turmeric milk every day can have various health benefits. On the other hand, according to research, it hardly has side effects unless you take high doses of turmeric supplements.
What is the best time to drink golden milk?
The best time to drink golden milk is after dinner, at least two hours before bed.
Does Golden milk help you sleep?
Ayurvedic medicine leverages golden milk to help with upset stomachs. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties might also aid sleep, as long as you don’t drink it very late.
Does Golden milk help with weight loss?
If you use high-quality coconut milk, add coconut oil, and don’t use honey, sugar, or sweeteners, golden milk can help with weight loss.
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35Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-957450. PubMed PMID: 9619120.
36Lao CD, Ruffin MT 4th, Normolle D, Heath DD, Murray SI, Bailey JM, Boggs ME, Crowell J, Rock CL, Brenner DE. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Mar 17;6:10. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-10. PubMed PMID: 16545122; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1434783.
37Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. Ginger–an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J Med Food. 2005 Summer;8(2):125-32. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2005.8.125. Review. PubMed PMID: 16117603.
Stephan is a writer and a true man of science, holding multiple diplomas and master's degrees in different research areas. His greatest passion is closing the gap between the conventional perception of health and the latest scientific evidence – always following the data.