Turmeric, the golden yellow spice has gotten some extra love in the last few years with Instagramable drinks like “golden milk” and dessert recipes calling for a teaspoon or two for taste, color, and its magical properties.
Turmeric, which has been used as a health supplement for over 4,500 years, originated in India where it was used in cooking and most likely religious practice. Historians found powder residue, dating back to 2,500 BC, in ancient pots that proved people living in New Delhi frequently used turmeric. It was found that around 500 BC was when turmeric became a key ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine.
According to research, the use of turmeric traveled to China by 700 AD, East Africa by 800 AD, West Africa by 1200 AD, and Jamaica in the 18th century. Even back then, word was getting out about the health benefits of turmeric. Today, India produces and consumes most of the world’s turmeric, but the U.S. especially is catching on to this superfood.
These days, we’re looking for healthy and natural ways to boost our immunity and stay healthy (especially during flu season), and turmeric is a tried and true go-to for millions of people around the globe.
What is turmeric, exactly? Turmeric forms and curcumin explainer
Turmeric comes from a plant, whose botanical name is Curcuma longa. Turmeric, which is a rhizome, looks like a root and produces flowers — in fact, turmeric is part of the ginger family and looks very similar to the ginger plant.
Turmeric can be consumed in many forms, which includes powder, capsules, extract, and the whole root. In the kitchen, it’s easiest to incorporate turmeric by using turmeric powder, which you can find at the grocery store or online.
What makes turmeric such a powerful supplement is compounds called curcuminoids that have medicinal properties. Of those curcuminoids, curcumin has been identified as the main active ingredient researchers found has proven health benefits.
How to use turmeric
Turmeric is a versatile spice, and can be added to soups, stews, curries, and even desserts. It’s also used as a way to marinate proteins, like chicken or tofu. Since turmeric is a mellow spice, adding a little bit to your dish won’t overpower the main ingredients. Turmeric has been used as a coloring agent in dairy products (like cheese, butter, and yogurt), desserts (cakes, ice cream, icing, and sauces), and snacks like popcorn and chips. Turmeric can also be pickled (like ginger).
Another simple way to incorporate turmeric into your diet is by making turmeric tea or “golden milk.”
How to make turmeric tea or golden milk
Turmeric tea, unlike golden milk, is similar to ginger tea. It’s not watered down by milk, so the taste is much stronger (turmeric has a spicy, bitter taste to it). Various recipes exist and there’s no one “right way” to make turmeric tea, but here are the basic ingredients you’ll need for a version of this beverage: hot water, turmeric powder, honey, lemon, and ground black pepper (the latter is optional, but it does give your drink a nice kick).
Golden milk, on the other hand, is a sweet and creamy drink that requires a few more ingredients (but is still easy to make at home). You’ll need coconut milk, almond or oat milk, turmeric powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, coconut oil, ground black pepper, and a sweetener (like honey or coconut sugar).
But if you’re looking for a more hassle-free route, you can always buy premade golden milk, like Tea Drops’ Turmeric Tea. No need to worry about a tea bag, either. Tea Drops are dissolvable pods that just call for some hot water or milk if you’d like your tea creamy. Tea Drops’ Turmeric Tea is made with just two ingredients: organic turmeric and coconut palm sugar. It only has 5 calories, less that 1 gram of sugar, and is caffeine-free. It’s an easy (and delicious) way to get your daily dose of turmeric.
What are the health benefits of turmeric tea?
Many people choose to consume turmeric tea daily, either in the morning as a substitute for coffee, or at night as a nice way to wind down. There’s no wrong time or place to make yourself a cup of turmeric tea (and you can totally have it with your favorite coffee too, if that’s what you prefer). Turmeric tea is easy to make, and its warmth makes for a cozy pick-me-up.
Why daily? Some folks use turmeric tea as part of their health regimen, since it’s been shown turmeric can mitigate and even alleviate many types of health problems.
Curious? Here are the proven health benefits of turmeric tea.
1. Turmeric is found to boost the immune system.
Research has found that curcumin, the powerful compound in turmeric, can boost the immune system and possibly even help those with immune disorders. This 2007 study which was published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology states that curcumin is a “potent immunomodulatory agent” that is capable of modulating the activation of “T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells.” The study went on to suggest curcumin could be used as a form of therapy for those who have an immune disorder. If you have an already compromised immune system, or even if you feel like you’re experience some early symptoms of the cold or flu, make yourself some turmeric tea in the morning or at night. Tea Drops’ Turmeric Tea is so tasty that you’d forget that you’re treating your body to some vital, medicinal goodness.
2. Turmeric can be used as an anti-inflammatory supplement
Inflammation due to oxidative stress (which is caused by an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your system) can be caused by various chronic illnesses like MS, heart disease, allergies, asthma, colitis, psoriasis, and even cancer. Certain mental illnesses like depression can also cause inflammation in the body. Research shows that curcumin in turmeric can suppress inflammation, and is considered an anti-inflammatory agent.
Chronic inflammation has been shown to negatively impact the immune system, which is why you might notice you’re getting sick more often if you, say, are struggling with depression, or are dealing with a psoriasis flare-up.
3. It can help uveitis symptoms
Uveitis, which is an inflammation that occurs in the section of your eye between the white part and retina. Uveitis can ultimately lead to blindness, so it’s important to treat this right away. While healthcare professionals do recommend medical treatment, it’s been found that turmeric as a supplement can help bring down the inflammation and help reduce uveitis symptoms.
4. Turmeric can lower cholesterol
The studies that have been conducted (albeit, mostly on animals) have shown that turmeric can successfully bring down cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels). In the study, animals that were fed a high-fat diet showed improvement with their cholesterol after being given doses of turmeric. However, one study done in 2008 concluded that, after administering turmeric to (human) patients with high cholesterol, those patients experienced lower total cholesterol levels across the board.
5. It can helps with ulcerative colitis symptoms
In one study published in 2012, researchers tested two seperate groups — 45 patients were given curcumin and 44 were given a placebo. The curcumin was administered twice a day for six months. The results? The ulcerative colitis patients in the first group were found to relapse and show symptoms. Only 4 percent in the first group relapsed after six months versus the placebo group, where it was found 18 percent relapsed. This study concludes that, if taken regularly, turmeric is an effective supplement to help minimize ulcerative colitis symptoms (which can include abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, and more).
6. Turmeric may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s
Interestingly, it’s been found that India has an extraordinarily low percentage of patients with Alzheimer’s — and some believe that’s because turmeric is the main ingredient in most Indian food. While more studies need to be done, researchers have discovered that for animal test subjects, turmeric lowered inflammation and oxidative stress (both of which might be contributing factors to developing Alzheimer’s). Other studies claim that it’s possible curcumin stops brain cells from breaking down, along with the formation of plaque in brains.
7. Turmeric could help with the development of arthritis
In a 2016 review, eight clinical trials were analyzed and it was found that taking 1,000 milligrams of curcumin every day for eight to twelve weeks helps with pain and lower inflammation due to arthritis. The doses taken may possibly be as strong as taking NSAIDs, so turmeric may be a natural, healthier alternative. In 2018, a study showed that curcumin did decrease joint inflammation in rats by blocking a signaling process called the mTOR pathway.
8. Turmeric can help prevent heart disease
Although many of the studies are specific to patients who have recently undergone heart surgery, researchers have found that by taking turmeric as a supplement (before and after the surgery), there was a decrease in myocardial infarction by 56 percent compared to a group which took a placebo bill.
There is one study that shows curcumin can mitigate the risk of developing clogged arteries. Though the test involved mice, the results were promising nonetheless. Mice who were given curcumin in their diet had a 26 percent reduction in fatty deposits in their arteries compared to the mice who weren’t given curcumin.
9. It protects liver damage from occurring
A 2016 study found that turmeric extract and curcumin “significantly” protected liver injury. The data collected informed scientists that turmeric “protects the liver from chronic [liver injury] by suppressing hepatic oxidative stress.” This once again shows that oxidative stress is a culprit for many illnesses and turmeric is a powerful supplement that helps fight it.
10. Turmeric can help treat or manage lung illnesses.
While more needs to be researched on this topic, the initial connection between turmeric and lung illnesses like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute respiratory distress disorder (and more), shows promising results.
If you’re feeling inspired to incorporate turmeric into your life, Tea Drops’ Turmeric Tea is a delicious (and easy) way to start. Cheers to a healthier you!