I’m often asked by patients about “natural” options for combating inflammation. As one who doesn’t like to take medications himself, I can easily understand where they are coming from. In a prior post entitled, “7 Anti-inflammatory Agents Supplied by Mother Nature,” we talked about a variety of naturally occurring foods and spices that help reduce inflammation. One of which, turmeric, we’ll be highlighting in greater detail today.
Turmeric is a spice that has been used for thousands of years as an ancient ayurvedic remedy in both Indian and Asian cultures. It has a number of health benefits that we’ll examine further below and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes.
Turmeric is frequently used as a key ingredient in curry, however, some find this spice to be a bit overwhelming for their taste buds. Today, we’ll focus on how to incorporate turmeric into a yummy night-time snack known as “Tumeric Milk”, aka “Golden Milk,” so those without a palate for curry don’t miss out on the incredible health benefits that come along with this spice.
Tumeric Milk Deliciousness
Before we take a closer look at the benefits of Tumeric Milk, let’s talk about how to prepare this delicious snack in under 10 minutes. For greater detail, check out this post by the Minimalist Baker.
Recipe for Tumeric Milk
1.5 cups light coconut milk
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1.5 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 pinch ground black pepper
Maple syrup (or honey) added to taste
Pour all contents into a small saucepan. Whisk and warm at medium heat for 4 minutes, and, in the words of Emeril Lagasse, “Bam,” there you have it, a healthy, delicious nighttime treat.
Make sure you don’t skip the pinch of black pepper. In animal studies, it was concluded that black pepper significantly enhances the bioavailability of tumeric. 
4 Health Benefits of Tumeric Milk
Now that we know how to make delicious Tumeric Milk, let’s take a look at its potential health benefits.
1) Antioxidant Activity:
A number of studies have confirmed that curcumin, found in turmeric, is a potent antioxidant. [2-4]. Antioxidants help combat free radicals, which cause significant cellular damage throughout our body by stealing electrons from healthy tissues.
2) Anti-inflammatory Activity:
Inflammation plays a pivotal role in our body as part of the healing process when tissues are damaged, however, chronic inflammation over time can cause additional damage. We see this in the development of osteoarthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and a variety of other disorders.
As you can see, it’s important that we keep inflammation in check. In one of the most widely cited articles on tumeric published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, entitled “Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: A component of tumeric,” researchers reviewed five different studies that showed the anti-inflammatory effect of tumeric by inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes including phospholipase, lipooxygenase, COX-2, leukotrienes, collagenase, and tumor necrosis factor. 
3) Possible Anti-cancer Causing Effects:
There are a number of clinical trials being conducted at present time evaluating the potential benefits of tumeric for individuals suffering from multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes and colon cancer. Unfortunately, this research is still in its early stages. [6-8]
4) Anti-viral Effect:
A number of studies have also shown the anti-viral effect of tumeric. For instance, an article published in the journal, Nanoscale, in 2017 showed that en vitro, curcumin was found to inhibit respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a known pathogen responsible for lower respiratory tract infections.  Therefore, it might be a good idea to increase your tumeric intake during the cold and flu season of winter months!
5) Anti-aging Effect:
Tumeric is also believed to combat the aging process of skin. Through its anti-oxidant effects, tumeric is believed to help combat the damaging effects of UV rays. This supports the view that tumeric can be useful in combating the aging process of skin. For more information about how to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays check out our post entitled, 1 Simple Habit for Wrinkle and Cancer Prevention.
Is Tumeric Right for Everyone?
Tumeric is believed to have a blood-thinning effect and therefore may not be safe in individuals on blood thinners or those with blood disorders. It may also act as a uterine stimulant and may not be safe during pregnancy. Before deciding to add tumeric to your diet, it is always important to consult with your doctor first to find out if this spice is right for you.
How about you? Have you tried Tumeric Milk? What other recipes do you have for incorporating more tumeric into your daily diet?
Rinwa, P., & Kumar, A. (2012). Piperine potentiates the protective effects of curcumin against chronic unpredictable stress-induced cognitive impairment and oxidative damage in mice. Brain research, 1488, 38-50.
Wright, J. S. (2002). Predicting the antioxidant activity of curcumin and curcuminoids. Journal of molecular structure: theochem, 591(1-3), 207-217.
Dutta, S., Padhye, S., Priyadarsini, K. I., & Newton, C. (2005). Antioxidant and antiproliferative activity of curcumin semicarbazone. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters, 15(11), 2738-2744.
Ak, T., & Gülçin, İ. (2008). Antioxidant and radical scavenging properties of curcumin. Chemico-biological interactions, 174(1), 27-37.
Chainani-Wu, N. (2003). Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 9(1), 161-168.
Kunnumakkara, A. B., Guha, S., Krishnan, S., Diagaradjane, P., Gelovani, J., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2007). Curcumin potentiates antitumor activity of gemcitabine in an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer through suppression of proliferation, angiogenesis, and inhibition of nuclear factor-κB–regulated gene products. Cancer research, 67(8), 3853-3861.
Selvendiran, K., Ahmed, S., Dayton, A., Kuppusamy, M. L., Rivera, B. K., Kálai, T., ... & Kuppusamy, P. (2011). HO-3867, a curcumin analog, sensitizes cisplatin-resistant ovarian carcinoma, leading to therapeutic synergy through STAT3 inhibition. Cancer biology & therapy, 12(9), 837-845.
Sreekanth, C. N., Bava, S. V., Sreekumar, E., & Anto, R. J. (2011). Molecular evidences for the chemosensitizing efficacy of liposomal curcumin in paclitaxel chemotherapy in mouse models of cervical cancer. Oncogene, 30(28), 3139-3152.
Yang, X. X., Li, C. M., Li, Y. F., Wang, J., & Huang, C. Z. (2017). Synergistic antiviral effect of curcumin functionalized graphene oxide against respiratory syncytial virus infection. Nanoscale, 9(41), 16086-16092.
Lima, C. F., Pereira‐Wilson, C., & Rattan, S. I. (2011). Curcumin induces heme oxygenase‐1 in normal human skin fibroblasts through redox signaling: Relevance for anti‐aging intervention. Molecular nutrition & food research, 55(3), 430-442.