There are so many different ways to spice up your tea routine. One of them includes literally, “spicing” it up! The spice turmeric is poking its nose into the tea world. Prominent in Indian and Asian cuisine, it usually does not get the praise and appreciation that it deserves. Not only does the flavor work very well with delicate green teas or full-bodied black teas, but the health benefits make it worth the mixture.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a yellow powder made from the turmeric plant. Its main use is in seasoning and coloring curry, but it is also used universally as medicine. Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, and the health benefits and properties of it are seemingly endless. The chemical has been used to treat everything from arthritis to kidney stones, diabetes to lupus, jaundice to IBS. (1) It truly is a medicine and spice worth keeping on hand.
Turmeric originated in the south of Asia, but has come to be grown in many different humid climates. It is similar to ginger in that the shoots of the root, (or “rhizomes”), are what are used for consumption. The powdered Turmeric you get in grocery & health food stores today is made by boiling the roots, letting them dry, and then grinding them down into powder form. (2)
How do you use it in Tea?
The first and most prominent way I was introduced to turmeric was solely by sprinkling a bit of the magical powder and stirring it into my tea with a spoonful of honey to complement. But then I saw the light with the addition of Turmeric Tea, also known as ‘Golden Milk’. This drink is a great way to incorporate the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin.
How to Make a Golden Milk Latte?
Golden milk blends together a few different spices, which work together to boost immune system, aid digestion, and load you up with antioxidants. (3) All these spices are inexpensive, and odds are you already have them on hand. (NOTE: This recipe yields roughly 4 servings of tea).
- Small pinch of black pepper
- Small pinch of cayenne pepper optional
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon plus a pinch more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 small piece of peeled ginger OR a quarter teaspoon of ginger powder
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon of honey
Blend together all ingredients in a processor until completely smooth.
Transfer to a small saucepan and put on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You want it to be hot, but not boiling.
Pour into mug slowly, creating a froth effect atop the milk.
Garnish with a touch of cinnamon and enjoy.
You may be asking yourself why the recipe calls for black pepper. Curcumin is hard to absorb into the bloodstream by itself. Black pepper contains a substance called piperine, which increases the absorption of curcumin by a staggering 2,000%! (4) Take caution when handling turmeric, as it can stain certain surfaces. Mixing water and baking soda to make a paste and scrubbing the area will quickly eradicate any stain.
Ginger-Turmeric Tea Recipe
If you’d like to make a turmeric and ginger tea, the anti-inflammatory power will be through the roof! To get started, here is a simple recipe on mixing the two:
- 1/3 tsp turmeric
- 1/3 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- honey to taste
- lemon to taste
Boil one cup of water in a saucepan. Turn the heat off, and then add ⅓ teaspoon of turmeric and ⅓ teaspoon of ginger.
Steep with the lid on for 5 minutes. (If you put a lid over it, less of the chemicals and compounds are lost through steam.)
Strain the tea, allow it to cool, and then add honey. Adding honey to hotter tea blunts some of honey’s benefits..
Add ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to help the absorption of turmeric.
Add lemon to taste, and enjoy!
What are some of the Benefits?
Working together with other spices brings out the best of turmeric, but even alone it is an impressive preventive medicine.
Curcumin not only helps fight off free radicals and other immune ruining cells, it helps repair the damage already done. High doses of curcumin are just as powerful as medicinal drugs and lacks the harmful side effects. (5) The anti-inflammatory properties are also helpful in reducing the risk of arthritis. In fact, larger doses of curcumin are said to be more helpful in fighting inflammation than ibuprofen and aspirin. (6)
Promotes Healthy Brain Growth
The growth hormone BDNF is responsible for helping neurons flourish within your brain. Studies show that curcumin has helped increase the levels of this hormone, which in turn may play a role in preventing degenerative brain diseases. The other byproduct of higher BDNF levels is helping your logical faculties function, making you feel smarter! (7)
Promotes Healthy Heart
When the lining of your blood vessels (endothelium), becomes too thick, it’s harder for your heart to pump blood throughout them. Curcumin helps improve the functionality of these vessels, making it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.
The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric help procure a healthier gut environment, which can alleviate Crohn’s disease or other IBD’s. (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases).
Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis has been linked to over 250 million people throughout the entire world. Turmeric and curcumin can help prevent and alleviate bones and joints from inflammation. It also helps treat the pain of arthritis, reducing the need for ibuprofen or other pain medication. With an intake of 1000 mg of curcumin a day, there was a noticeable decrease in pain for arthritis sufferers. (9)
Good for your Skin
Curcumin has been used traditionally to treat such irritants as acne, burns, and itchy eyes. In India, the spice is used to treat dry and/or itchy skin. There is much emerging research proving the beneficial effects of curcumin for psoriasis, vitiligo, and dermatitis. Curcumin has been used in skin care products as well as soaps for these reasons. (10)
Offers Digestive Relief
Turmeric has long been a staple of culinary & medicinal use in Asia, and dates back even to the Vedic cultures of India 4,000 years ago. In an Ayurvedic text dated around 250 B.C., it was mentioned that turmeric helped ease digestive distress caused from eating expired food. (11)
Allergies and Asthma
Curcumin helps treat asthmatic symptoms by opening up the pathway which becomes narrowed by asthma, making it easier to breathe. It also decreases the production levels of IgE antibodies, which cause the initial allergic reactions given off by histamines. (12)
In a small study, 60 people were split into three groups. One was given Prozac, one group took curcumin, and one took both. The group that took solely curcumin had similar results to the Prozac group after 6 weeks of usage. The group that took both had the best results, proving there is promising ground for turmeric on the anti-depressant front.
Use in Traditional Chinese Medicine
People in China have been using turmeric as traditional medicine for thousands and thousands of years. The Chinese herb Yu Jin is the tuber root of turmeric, and has many health benefits. The herb helps move stagnated blood around, improving circulation and oxygen flow. It is used for pain relief, especially due to menstrual distress. It also keeps the organs healthy, including the stomach, spleen, and liver by fighting liver cirrhosis. (13)
Is it better to consume turmeric than taking a turmeric pill?
Yes! Your body is more able to absorb the curcumin and keep it in your system longer when you eat turmeric root. But since the supplements do have a higher count of curcuminoids, it may be worth it to take a supplement as well, especially if you don’t’ have turmeric regularly.
Are turmeric supplements safe to take?
Turmeric extract and curcumin have both been investigated for toxicity, and have been found to be safe.
What is the best amount of turmeric to take?
Since different studies have all conducted different studies, there is not a set standard for a dosage. A hearty teaspoon in teas and dishes is a good starting point.
Is it safe for pregnant and nursing women?
Absolutely! It actually helps fight any bacteria that may have been a threat to a mother’s milk supply. And although there is no supporting research, in India it is believed to stimulate the production of breastmilk.
With so many benefits to health, it’s no wonder this herb has been used as medicine for centuries. Turmeric has often been called nature’s cure, due to the many illnesses it helps ward off. But if at first you aren’t the biggest fan the flavor of turmeric, try adding small amounts of turmeric to green or black tea, and working up to a larger amount. Although it may take time to get used to, the health benefits surrounding this herb are more than worth their weight in gold.