Turmeric, an anti-inflammatory herb that helps with joint pain and how to incorporate it into golden milk

A tasty new beverage featuring the golden spice, turmeric, that is making its way into coffee shops and health cafes.  Learn why golden milk is considered a health beverage.

Turmeric is the main ingredient in this milk recipe that is responsible for the golden-yellow colour.  Turmeric root has many curcuminoids which are the active constituents and provide the health benefits that this herb is known for.  The major curcuminoid, curcumin, is responsible for the yellow colour turmeric creates when added to food/drinks.

Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory properties and works by inhibiting leukotriene (1) and prostaglandin (2) formation.  It does this through decreasing the activity of lipoxygenase and cycloxygenase 2 (COX2) enzymes respectively (2).  Prostaglandins and leukotrienes trigger inflammation in the body and while they are needed for acute situations to help trigger the inflammatory cascade to fight infections, prolonged synthesis of prostaglandins and leukotrienes can create chronic inflammation in the body often seen in chronic diseases.  Inflammation affects many areas of the body such as the brain, organs, and joints and turmeric is just one of many herbs that can help decrease inflammation.  As an aside, ibuprofen works in a similar manner but may have stomach related side effects and the risk of stomach ulcer formation.

Turmeric also helps with liver detoxification and enhances your digestion as well.  In chinese medicine, turmeric is considered a warming food that aids your spleen and stomach (chinese medicine organs responsible for digestion) to digest food and transform it into energy or ‘qi’.

You can use turmeric powder or purchase curcumin in capsule formulations.  With either option, if you want to use it medicinally, you do have to take a large dose because it is rapidly metabolized by the liver within a couple hours (2).  Also, whichever option you choose for taking your turmeric/curcumin, since it is fat soluble, it is a good idea to take it with a healthy fat meal.  The addition of coconut oil to this golden milk elixir is a great healthy fat to help increase the absorption of the turmeric powder.


  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp unpasteurized honey (if you want some sweetness)
  • 1 tsp ashwagandha powder (for sleep)


  1. Add all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat on low-medium heat until coconut oil is melted and milk is a bold yellow colour and warm.  Don’t let it boil or else the milk will precipitate and look gross (especially non-dairy milk).
  2. Enjoy as a perfect hot drink before bed as a replacement for black tea or coffee!

Please Note: If you have chronic inflammation, an autoimmune condition, or joint pain and are interested in taking a natural anti-inflammatory supplement, feel free to contact me and book an appointment as there could be multiple factors triggering the inflammation and just adding a supplement may be a “band-aid” approach rather than addressing the root of the problem.

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(1) Godfrey A, ND, PhD & Saunders PR PhD, ND, DHANP, CCH.  Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine.  Toronto ON: CCNM Press. 2010; p.371-372

(2) Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of curcuma longa: A review of preclinical and clinical research.  Alt Med Rev. 2009:14(2);141-153.


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