What Is Golden Milk? The Scientific Truth Behind the Cult Beverage

Updated on November 19, 2017
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Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.

What is Golden Milk?

Golden milk is a traditional recipe from India called Haldi Ka Doodh. The combination of milk, turmeric, and a range of other ingredients has been used for hundreds of years as a home remedy for coughs and the flu.

In the past little while, this beverage has exploded in popularity across the West and has acquired somewhat of a cult following. When I learned about this drink, I decided to give it a try as I’ve heard about the health benefits of turmeric and have been looking for ways to consume more of it without relying on curry. Curry’s delicious, but how much of it do you have to eat to ingest enough turmeric to make a difference?

So golden milk seems like the perfect choice.

And ever since the first sip passed my lips, I was hooked. The creaminess of the milk, the unique spicy combination of turmeric and black pepper, along with the hint of sweetness from the honey, was heavenly.

But deliciousness aside, what I wanted to know was, how much good is this drink doing to my overall health? There are many health food blogs out there touting numerous health benefits of the spice that range all the way from curing common colds to cancer. But how much of the hype is true?

Let’s take a look at the hard science behind this so-called miracle spice.

Poll:

Have you tried golden milk before?

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By Ajale. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Ajale. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

Health Benefits of Golden Milk (Specifically Turmeric): Scientific Evidence

Here are a few solid scientific studies that support the most common health claims made about turmeric.

1. Anti-inflammatory and weight loss

In a study with in vitro animal models, researchers have found that the primary active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, exhibited a strong antioxidative effect. This means that curcumin has been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects on these in vitro animal models.

Because of this anti-inflammatory effect, some may also experience weight loss as well.

2. Prevents bowel disease

Preclinical studies in animals have shown that curcumin is effective in preventing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by sweeping up disease-causing free radicals and increasing antioxidants.

Clinical studies have found that administration of curcumin along with conventional drugs is a safe way to maintain remission and prevent relapse for those diagnosed with IBD.

3. Promotes good skin

Since turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, it makes sense that turmeric improves inflammatory and bacterial skin conditions. In fact, clinical trials have indeed shown turmeric to be effective against acne.

4. Improves brain health and prevents Alzheimer’s

A study has also found that those who consumed some amount of turmeric occasionally presented with better results on a standard cognitive function test (MMSE) compared to those who had never consumed turmeric.

Curcumin has also been proven in epidemiological studies to delay degradation of neurons and improve overall memory in patients with Alzheimer’s.

Take the Evidence With a Grain of Salt

Those health benefits sound amazing, but here are some caveats to consider.

1. Not easily absorbed by the body

Despite many studies published about the positive effects of curcumin on the human body, a recent review from the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry has found that the body does not easily absorb curcumin. If the primary active compound in turmeric isn't absorbed by the body, any potential health benefits don’t mean much.

2. Flawed studies

Some of the most pertinent studies of curcumin were done in vitro, which means that no live organisms were tested on - everything was done in a test tube.

3. No reliable evidence

There has yet to be a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study done to support the health claims made by the many preliminary studies conducted on curcumin.

By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

Golden Milk Is Still Delicious

In the end, no single food can cure everything under the sun. As with all “superfoods,” there is no definitive science behind its health claims. Something that is good for you today could be bad for you tomorrow. Just look at how quickly vegetable oil fell from grace.

But don't give up on the spice completely. Turmeric does have some proven health benefits even if it’s not exactly a miracle spice, and golden milk is a great way to put more of it into your body. Nutritionists advise combining turmeric with black pepper to boost the absorption of curcumin.

Poll: The Miracle Beverage

What do you think of golden milk?

See results

So How Do You Make Golden Milk?

The two main ingredients in golden milk are turmeric and your choice of milk. Everything else is up to you. This is how I make my golden milk.

Photo by tracy benjamin. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/]
Photo by tracy benjamin. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/] | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 11 min
Yields: Serves one person
5 stars from 1 rating of Golden Milk

Ingredients

  • 400 ml milk, cow's, soy, nut, etc
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch black pepper, ground
  • 1/8 tspn cinnamon powder, or one cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 tspn honey

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients, except honey, into a small pot.
  2. Heat and leave to simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  3. Sieve into a cup.
  4. Stir in honey and enjoy!

© 2017 KV Lo

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    • profile image

      Marie 3 days ago

      Thanks for sharing. I've never heard of Golden milk before. Milk is usually known to cause skin problems so it's interesting to see that the turmeric is reversing it negative effects.

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      Ajay chander 3 days ago

      wow wonderful information with good pics . I'd like to tell you that turmeric a.ka. curcuma paper is having good medicine effects . we do add in our foods too.

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      Jennifer L 2 weeks ago

      Wow I've heard of golden milk, and have been tempted to try it especially as I do suffer from bronchitis from time to time. I think with many remedies like these there is usually a hit or miss that may work for some and for others its just placebo.

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      Sreekar 2 weeks ago

      Ya. We Indians do love a lot of turmeric in our milk. Nowadays there is even a turf war going on between major Indian brands over the rights to call their product the true turmeric. I know funny!!!!

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      Ana De- Jesus 3 weeks ago

      Its like you said, like all 'superfoods' there is often flawed research because they test 'in vitro' although that being said I have found tumeric has helped me when I have had a cold . Nevertheless golden milk is delicious and so warming especially during winter!

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      Our Family World 3 weeks ago

      My husband says it does take away some of his joint pains. I have not tried making Golden milk, but we do make turmeric tea and add a little lemon juice and honey. It is delicious too!

    • profile image

      Sara 4 weeks ago

      I love golden milk smoothies. I've never been a fan of hot drinks but this stuff is so wonderful I knew I had to find a way to make it work ^^. Thanks for sharing!

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      Ann 4 weeks ago

      This is a must try! It looks delicious plus the turmeric content which is good for the body! Will def try this! :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the recipe and all the health information. I have three of the ingredients for your recipe in my home at the moment. I'll get the other two tomorrow and then make some golden milk. I'm looking forward to trying it!

    • Kaitlyn Lo profile image
      Author

      KV Lo 4 weeks ago

      @Ghunjain And thank YOU for reading! :)

    • profile image

      Ghunjain 4 weeks ago

      Thanks for sharing

    • Kaitlyn Lo profile image
      Author

      KV Lo 4 weeks ago

      @poppyr Thank you! And do try it - very interested to see what you think of the taste. :)

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 4 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Great article, very detailed and well presented, and you've obviously researched a lot about the topic. I'd never heard of golden milk before but it seems pretty tasty. I have all the ingredients for it at home so I might make some tonight.