Turmeric Tea Is the Anti-Inflammatory Drink That'll Warm You Right Up (and It's So Easy to Make)

Turmeric tea and golden lattes are a delicious, cozy way to enjoy the health benefits of this vibrant spice.

Overhead view of turmeric milk and a spoon of ground turmeric, wooden surface
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You’ve likely heard of turmeric, a plant in the ginger family that’s native to Southeast Asia. Its root yields a yellow spice that’s commonly found in curry powder and has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years, thanks to its mighty antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its power comes from curcumin, a pigment that gives turmeric its distinctive, bright color. If you’re not already a turmeric fan, there are many reasons to give it a try.

“We know that inflammation plays a role in the development of many diseases, and turmeric may have the potential to prevent a wide variety of conditions,” says Julie Cunningham, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE, IBCLC, registered dietitian and Henderson, North Carolina–based author of 30 Days to Tame Type 2 Diabetes. Many health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, allergies, asthma, diabetes, and fatigue, are linked to inflammation.

One way to consume turmeric is by making it into tea, which provides all the spice’s nutritious benefits in a warm, tasty beverage (that’s pretty, to boot). While there isn’t any strong research comparing the benefits of consuming turmeric in a tea form versus in a curry or even taking a turmeric supplement, tea is certainly a pleasurable way to enjoy this antioxidant-rich ingredient, Cunningham says. Plus, she adds, “We do know the Japanese, known for their long [lifespans] and low rates of heart disease, as well as breast and prostate cancers, typically consume turmeric as hot tea.” 

So what exactly is turmeric tea good for? Read on for its healthy benefits.

Benefits of Turmeric Tea

It helps keep your joints healthy.

Turmeric is said to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, says Michael Green, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN with Winona based in Lake Arrowhead, California. Research shows that turmeric helps keep your cartilage—which forms the cushioning between your bones—in good condition. Some research has even found that taking 400 milligrams of curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, may be as effective as acetaminophen for controlling arthritis pain.

It can ease muscle soreness and menstrual cramps.

Due to turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a good idea to sip turmeric tea if you’re experiencing sore muscles from a workout, exercise-induced inflammation, or period cramps, as it can help ease the pain from both, Dr. Green says.

It can help lower total cholesterol and triglycerides.

Studies show intake of turmeric may help reduce cholesterol and prevent the narrowing of arteries, in addition to other heart health benefits, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

It can boost brain and mental health.

Turmeric’s antioxidant properties can help combat mental health conditions by reducing oxidative stress on brain cells and improving your mood, Dr. Green says. It may also play a role in managing symptoms of depression as well as Alzheimer’s. A word of caution, however: “For anyone looking to try this natural remedy, be aware that it won’t be a quick fix,” he says. “Just like pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs, it may take about six weeks to notice an obvious improvement.” (Remember you should always speak to your health care provider before incorporating any dietary supplement into your routine, as well.)

It can help prevent or even reverse metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that often lead to diabetes and heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, says Cunningham. Turmeric can help decrease the concentrations of serum cytokines, which are biomarkers of these diseases.

It may have anti-cancer properties.

More research is needed to explore this topic, but turmeric, and more specifically its content of curcumin, may have potential to help combat cancer: One study found that curcumin may be effective in inhibiting the growth of tumor cells.

Who should drink turmeric tea?

Although supplements are not federally regulated, turmeric is also on the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. “With all of its healing properties, most people can benefit from using turmeric, whether it’s in tea form or by adding it to foods,” Dr. Green says, adding that taking it as a supplement may also be beneficial for some (always talk to your doctor first before exploring a new supplement). Those with inflammatory conditions, as well as those with anxiety and high cholesterol, are most likely to benefit from regular use.

However, there are some who should consult with a doctor before drinking turmeric tea. This includes anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding or who has compromised liver or kidney function, says Cunningham. Be sure to monitor the amount, too: Ingesting more than 500 milligrams of turmeric per day may lead to symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, headache, rash and/or yellow stool. Dr. Green says anyone taking blood thinners should also steer clear of turmeric, as it can act as a blood thinner.

How to Make Turmeric Tea or a Golden Milk Latte at Home

Try this simple recipe from Cunningham to make turmeric tea at home. Combine 2 cups water, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring almost to a boil, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour into mugs and add honey to taste (if desired). If you’d prefer a creamy tea or latte, you can substitute a milk or milk alternative of your choice—almond or coconut milk—for the water to make a “golden milk” latte. You can also add more of your favorite spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or nutmeg.

You might be wondering why black pepper is involved here, but don’t skip it when making turmeric tea. This is because of a compound called piperine found in black pepper that helps your body absorb the full benefits of turmeric, Dr. Green says.

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