Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir

haldi turmeric ginger milk by Arun ShanbhagTurmeric is an ubiquitous indian spice and a common ingredient of pre-mixed curry or masala powders. Turmeric (haldi, Konkani; haridra, Sanskrit) is also an essential component of fish marinade.

While I take for granted the turmeric used in cooking, I distinctly remember my grandma preparing scalding hot, turmeric milk whenever we had a sore throat or cold. And grandma admonished us to sip it hot, letting it course its way down the back of our throats. Haaiiii! She had alchemized this common root, to a piping hot, golden elixir, which not only got us back to school the next day (unfortunately), but also back on the playground (v good). Something magical about that turmeric milk! If she only knew!

A few months ago when experimenting in the kitchen I had cut my palm. Having seen my aunts and mother for ages in the kitchen, I instinctively reached for the turmeric powder and dabbed it in the cut stanching the blood and forming a clot. Now scientists tell us that turmeric is anti-bacterial – preventing infection and also helping heal the wound! Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is responsible for its medicinal activity and pigmentation.

See related drinks:

Ensconced in multimillion dollar laboratories, western scientists are slowly catching up to what our grandmothers, armed with stone mortar and pestles have known for millennia. Something magical about that turmeric!

Scientists now tell us that curcumin is anti-inflammatory, in that it can reduce soreness and fever, much like tylenol or paracetamol. And it acts like those latest anti-inflammatory drugs called cox-2 inhibitors: Celecoxib and Vioxx. Both of these medicines have serious side effects and vioxx has been withdrawn by the FDA for safety reasons. On the other hand, turmeric as a dietary constituent is safe and well tolerated!

A host of scientific investigations have also looked at the ability of curcumin to fight cancer. Curcumin kills several types of cancer cells in the laboratory. In animals, curcumin prevents or slows cancer in the skin, breast, liver, fore-stomach, duodenum and colon. Curcumin also has anti-angiogenic properties; translation: curcumin seriously slows new blood vessel formation in tumors, causes asphyxiation of tumors and thus preventing their growth and metastases.

Without turning this into a scientific review paper, I hope you are convinced that turmeric is really good for you. Daily consumption of dietary turmeric in the form of added spices, or this turmeric milk can have near magical properties.

No wonder that in Hindu pujas, devas (Gods as crude approximation) and young brides are doused in turmeric powder!

Here is a really simple recipe for the magical turmeric milk (haldi dudh, in konkani). At the first signs of a sore throat, or feverishness, sip this hot milk drink and call it a night! Wake up fresh and ready to take on the world!

When you do try this recipe, I’d love to hear your experience.

Note: Ginger (adrak, Sanskrit) used in this recipe is well recognized in Ayurvedic and western medicine as having anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It is widely used to prevent motion sickness, to prevent nausea and most importantly suppresses cough. More on that in another recipe.


  • In a mug, place 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • jaggery turmeric ginger milk by Arun Shanbhag

  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • haldi turmeric ginger milk by Arun Shanbhag

  • Add a quarter cup water and twirl to mix in turmeric
  • Top off with milk. You can also skip the milk and do this in water!
  • Microwave ~ 2 min (depends on power rating of your microwave) bringing milk nearly to a boil)
  • Leave milk in the microwave for ~ 5 min, allowing the active ingredients of ginger and turmeric to seep into the milk
  • Add a teaspoon of jaggery. Alternately use honey, cane or regular sugar to taste. Mix well and reheat milk
  • Spoon out and discard ginger bits; turmeric settles to the bottom. If it bothers you, you can strain
  • Sip this very hot and feel the heat course over your gullet
  • Off to bed! Awake refreshed and energized!

turmeric ginger milk haldi

Update: Scientists have demonstrated that when curcumin is ingested along with a peppercorn extract, the ability of our body to absorb and utilize curcumin increases dramatically, upto 2000%. Thus the indian tradition of including peppercorn in this home remedy (as commented by readers) has a basis in science as well.

Selected science articles for further enlightenment (or treat insomnia):

  • Sharma and others, Curcumin: The story so far, European Journal of Cancer (2005) (PDF).
  • Villengas and others, New mechanisms and therapeutic potential of curcumin for colorectal cancer, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2008) (PDF).
  • Goel and others, Specific inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) expression by dietary curcumiin in HT-29 human colon cancer cells, Cancer Letters (2001) (PDF).
  • Tiwari, Ayurveda: Secrets of Healing, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, India (1995)

285 thoughts on “Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir

Add yours

  1. Arun, there is no mention of peppercorns in the ingredient list /actual recipe. Last time, I visited this page it was there.

  2. Why microwave when you have such great ingredients! I think it’s better to just heat it up in a pot. Microwave, though debatable, can destroy all the goodness in food.

    1. Yes, when I am in a rush, doing it on the stove top just doesn’t cut it. Its better than not drinking it at all.
      BTW, I have adapted my recipe to cut out the milk and can now just add hot water.
      Will post that soon. Thanks

  3. Thanks . I just made with fresh turmeric and powderd and added 2”of fresh ginger
    Boiled it with tea spoon of honey.it is very good.
    I wonder if it is good as I already take jusprin 81mg .
    How will it effect me.

    1. Glad you tried it.
      Not sure how it will work in combination with the aspirin, but will not certainly hurt. Besides, if you were trying this for sore throat, aspirin does nothing for that.

      Thank you and hope you feel better.

  4. Tumeric is not water soluable and should be mixed in to a fat such as coconut oil or almond milk… and NEVER use a microwave… it anialates anything heated in it!

  5. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading
    it, you can be a great author. I will always bookmark your
    blog and will often come back down the road. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts,
    have a nice holiday weekend!

  6. Hi arun
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
    Will this assist in preventing my keloid from spreading on my chest, also I have vitiligo. The doctors prescribed dovate cream but I stopped because I can taste it when I apply it ! It makes me dizzy. Would appreciate your help. Thank you, Heidi

    1. Thank you Heidi.
      You can try applying a simple turmeric paste (mix turmeric powder in a tiny bit of water). It is currently used by indian women for healthy skin. I think this is primarily because of its antiseptic effects. I am not sure if it will work on keloids, but there is no harm in trying.

      But it would have helped by applying turmeric when the skin was originally healing.
      Best to you.

  7. Just discovered, made & sipping! This is YUM, & if it cures my sore throat, sinusitis & overwhelming fatigue I’ll be v happy but is sooooo tasty, I’d make this as a treat on a cold Scottish day! Thanks!!

  8. I am 52 years old woman and drinking always one big glass of milk with 1/2 tea spoon of turmerik power since was 25 year old and its been my long time experience that it helps to my skin and my skin gets glow reason for that turmerik make pore our blood and all blood related problem, almost didnot get cold in long experience and many more benifits. I like your article !!!

  9. I gave this to my husband last night but he couldn’t cope with the ginger component. My daughter made it for him this morning without the ginger and he said it tasted better for him. Is it just as good for you without the ginger??

  10. This looks fantastically soothing and good for you! I would heat it over the stove though, as to not damage the nutritional content of those good ingredients!

  11. Please dont use a microwave oven. These things kill so many good things in our food. A oven proof glass saucepan is much better on a cook-top. Thanks for the recipe !

  12. Thank you SO much! I’m going to make some and crunch up the ginger too. I just read an article previously (that’s why I googled curcumin) that says it reverses aneurisms. It is a scientific paper. It equates curcumin and tumeric the same. Do you agree they are the sams?

    1. Curcumin is the active ingredient extracted from the turmeric root.
      Scientists always love to use the active ingredient as it is easier to standardize and control.
      But I always go for the natural stuff.

      To your health,

      1. (please) tell your readers to just use a safe pan on the stove. I make a ginger tea like this: Smash up a finger of ginger, bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5. Adding some peppercorns and ginger will rock it! It’s SO potent and helpful. Just take out the microwave part. Microwaved milk? Really? I’m an advocate for raw milk, anyhow, so will opt to just make a tea with water. Maybe a little room temp milk on the side, but it’d be raw.

    1. I completely agree, The recipe is wonderful and I will be making it for my boys tonight, Thank you!! but I STRONGLY suggest, encourage and wish that the advice given didnt tell people to use a microwave, microwaves nuke your food and kill all nutrients, vitamins and life force that is in the food…. Microwaving your medicine is killing it… This is so easy to make on a stove top there is no reason to suggest a microwave….

  13. The great thing about curcumin is that it helps the immune system and also hastens the healing ability of the body.

  14. I am using turmeric gingel milk from last 10 days inplace of coffee flavoured milk and im feeling better with this recipie..from cold and cough. Like to know more..if any side effects comes at later stage..becos ginger and turmeric both are warm in nature..pls tell me.

    1. If you can tolerate drinking the turmeric ginger milk, then you are likely not overdoing it.
      But generally, moderation is a good thing.

      We use turmeric in our cooking every day; I add ginger to my chai every morning. There are no known side effects from drinking this.
      But scientifically, if you take pills which have turmeric extract, then there is a possibility of overdoing it.

      To your health.

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