Golden milk — also known as turmeric milk — is an Indian drink that has been gaining popularity in Western cultures.
This bright yellow beverage is traditionally made by warming up cow’s or plant-based milk with turmeric and other spices, such as cinnamon and ginger.
It’s touted for its many health benefits and often used as an alternative remedy to boost immunity and stave off illness.
Here are 10 science-based benefits of golden milk — and a recipe to make your own.
1. Key Ingredients Are Loaded With Antioxidants
The key ingredient in golden milk is turmeric, a yellow spice popular in Asian cuisine, which gives curry its yellow color.
Curcumin, the active component in turmeric, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries due to its strong antioxidant properties (1).
Antioxidants are compounds that fight cell damage, protecting your body from oxidative stress.
They’re essential to the functioning of your cells, and studies regularly show that diets rich in antioxidants may help lower your risk of infections and disease (2, 3).
Most golden milk recipes also include cinnamon and ginger — both of which have impressive antioxidant properties as well (4, 5).
Golden milk is rich in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage, fight off disease and infections and contribute to your overall health.
2. May Help Reduce Inflammation and Joint Pain
The ingredients in golden milk have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic inflammation is thought to play a major role in chronic diseases, including cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. For this reason, diets rich in anti-inflammatory compounds may reduce your risk of these conditions.
Research shows that ginger, cinnamon and curcumin — the active ingredient in turmeric — have potent anti-inflammatory properties (6, 7, 8).
Studies even suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin are comparable to those of some pharmaceutical drugs with none of the side effects (9, 10).
These anti-inflammatory effects may reduce joint pain from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
For instance, one study in 45 people with rheumatoid arthritis found that 500 grams of curcumin daily reduced joint pain more than 50 grams of a common arthritis drug or a combination of curcumin and the drug (11).
Similarly, in a 6-week study in 247 people with osteoarthritis, those given ginger extract experienced less pain and required less pain medication than those given a placebo (12).
Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, the main ingredients in golden milk, have strong anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce inflammation and joint pain.
3. May Improve Memory and Brain Function
Golden milk may be good for your brain, too.
Studies show that curcumin may increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a compound that helps your brain form new connections and promotes the growth of brain cells (13).
Low levels of BDNF may be linked to brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (14, 15).
Other ingredients may provide benefits as well.
For instance, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is an accumulation of a specific protein in the brain, called the tau protein. Test-tube and animal studies show that compounds in cinnamon may prevent this buildup (16, 17, 18).
What’s more, cinnamon appears to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve brain function in animal studies