A little over a year ago, I had a series of huge, agonizing panic attacks. I’d experienced them before in my life, but not with the same level of intensity. When the attacks finally subsided, I was left feeling weak, prone to tears, exhausted, spaced out, and generally anxious.
It was a tough time, needless to say, but a week-long visit from one of my best friends was just the support I needed. The first evening she stayed with me, she came into the living room, where I sat huddled under blankets on the couch and handed me a warm, frothy, saffron-colored beverage. It smelled spicy, vibrant, and rich.
“What is this?” I asked. She explained that it was a wonderfully-named concoction called “golden milk” (some people call it golden tea or turmeric lattes), made of canned coconut milk, honey, and turmeric. She’d read about its delicious taste and possible health benefits over at Nourished Kitchen, and decided to make a version of their recipe for herself.
She came into the living room where I sat huddled under blankets on the couch and handed me a warm, frothy, saffron-colored beverage.
Golden milk is usually made with some sort of turmeric mix (some, like Garden of Life mykind Golden Milk, contain spices such as cinnamon and black pepper), which you can stir into warm milk. She stirred her version together in a pot over the stove.
I nervously took a sip of this beautiful mystery drink, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the taste. It had a deep flavor, satisfying on all parts of the tongue—sweet and heavy in an unfamiliar but enticing way.
I drank the entire cup of golden milk, and felt a deep sense of peace settle over me. Perhaps it was simply the magic combination of a warm drink and her friendship, but it made me feel better. So, when my friend left, I began making it for myself as part of a nightly ritual before bed.
Golden milk may be surging in popularity today, but it’s not a new-fangled idea at all. Turmeric has roots in Ayurvedic medicine that date back nearly 4000 years, I learned after doing some digging around. According to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, it is known to reduce inflammation and promote healthy immune system function. And curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to provide effective and safe mood stabilization, according to the journal Phytotherapy Research.
In India, turmeric milk (called haldi doodh in Hindi) has been enjoyed for centuries.
I adopted the recipe for myself, making it into a ritual: I’d stand over the stove, pour the coconut milk into a pot and stir it until it bubbled. Then, I’d add the turmeric and honey, and then pour the steaming drink into a mug. This whole process became a relaxing part of my evenings. I even started to look forward to it.
I nervously took a sip of this beautiful mystery drink, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the taste.
In the hour or two after drinking my turmeric and coconut milk concoction each night, I felt a sustained feeling of relaxation. My body, so tight with stress, would become loose as I moved from tension to calm. The thoughts in my mind that were frantic and uncomfortable would slow, and I found that I was able to be where I was.
After a few weeks I realized I was having some surprise benefits that I associated with the golden milk. My digestion became regular (a study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that turmeric may help improve digestive function) and I had less bloating after eating. My skin was clearer, my eyes brighter.
I also have a bum knee that I broke in an unfortunate (and very stupid) trampoline accident when I was a teen, which often ached. In the weeks after drinking the golden milk, my knee felt better. Coincidence? Maybe. But maybe not.
After 30 days of drinking golden milk, I was in a very different state of mind than I had been at the start of the month. Sure, I knew this drink could not solve my issues with panic and anxiety, but there was no question that I felt calmer and more focused.
Since that time, I’ve gone through periods where I don’t drink golden milk very often, but every now and then, when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I sink right back into the routine of nightly golden milk.