Say good-bye to ibuprofen! Or at least, see you later.
A few years ago, I needed something to treat this nagging tendonitis in my arms that kept creeping up time and time again. How could I stay active when simply opening a door sent shooting pain up my forearm and elbow?
Massage, ice, anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy – you name it, I tried it. And they all worked, sometimes, for a brief time anyway. That’s the price, I figured, with overtraining!
Enter the unfortunate-sounding name of Golden Milk! Yay!
It’s a TURMIRACLE!
By now, you’ve already seen the plethora of posts in your Facebook feed espousing the many health benefits of turmeric. If you haven’t, I’ll sum them up for you: Take Turmeric or DIE! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but just ever so slight. According to <insert-generic-alternative-medicine website here>, turmeric – and, more specifically, curcumin, its main active ingredient – is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, painkilling, bone loss-preventing powerhouse. Since we know we shouldn’t blindly trust health information given to us in a meme or flashy video on social media (right???), I did a quick search on PubMed and, indeed, found 3,794 scientific research papers on turmeric examining these and other claims. A brief review of several studies shows that the only thing they agree on is that more research is needed before coming to any conclusion on its use and/or benefits. Big surprise.
But I had read some anecdotal stories about using turmeric to treat arthritis successfully, so I thought, why not give it a try!
At first I tried things like sprinkling dried turmeric on buttered toast. Yeah, I’ll save you the effort, it’s revolting. I tried it in sandwiches. You just can’t mask that bitter, chalky taste! I tried juicing the turmeric root in with my fruit and vegetable juices. Made the whole thing taste like horse feed. After it leaves the horse.
After many attempts at finding a palatable solution, I settled on one that has me looking forward to it every day. And the results? A yummy, frothy, chai-tasting latte that, I kid you not – and I state here for the record that I have no ties to any turmeric manufacturing companies, though if any are reading this, I’m open to negotiation! – actually works. I wouldn’t say it’s as potent as ibuprofen, but taken regularly, it definitely keeps the inflammation in my tendons and joints at bay which allows me to continue training unabated. The dull, low-grade pain is gone without any medication at all. I still have to be very conscious of overtraining, though, as the tendonitis can still flare up if I’m not careful. But the difference, for me, is remarkable enough that I’m pushing a popular Indian spice when I don’t even like curry.
Without further adieu, here’s my “turmiracle” potion!
Chocolate Turmeric Tea
The first step is creating the “paste.” (Ugh, way to make alternative medicine sound even grosser.) This is a common method offered by many (and this great video) to both make the drink easy to prepare every day and to concentrate the turmeric of which the really beneficial curcumin is only about 3-5%. While the pepper is necessary for this recipe (its key compound, piperine, aids in the bioavailability of the curcumin, meaning that your body is going to absorb a lot more of it), and can be varied according to how spicy you like your drink, the cinnamon and ginger are optional but still very healthy (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulation) and tasty additives.
Paste (YAY! Gotta change that name. Any suggestions?)
4 Tbsp dried turmeric
1/2 Cup – 3/4 Cup water
1/8-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp dried ginger
Combine in a small saucepan and stir frequently over low heat until the mixture thickens (5-7 minutes). In keeping with alternative nutrition, you’re really going for that baby-poop consistency, so adjust water accordingly. Cooking it lightly aids absorption of the curcumin (apparently, but I’m sure that, according to the 3.794 papers noted above, further research is probably needed). Allow to cool and keep in a covered bowl in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
1 Cup chocolate non-dairy milk (I like chocolate almond milk)
baby poop turmeric paste
1/2-1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
Whisk the milk and paste in a saucepan over low-medium heat until it reaches that nice drinking temperature that warms your soul (you think I’m sounding cheezy but you know exactly what I’m talking about). You can then either pour it through a sieve into a cup to get rid of the solids or just pour straight into a cup. Then add the coconut oil (the fat in the oil also aids absorption, and the coconut tastes yummy), stir, and enjoy! At first, you may want a lower amount of paste in case the taste is too jarring. I like to keep the whisk in the cup and stir as I drink it so the sediment doesn’t collect at the bottom and the oil doesn’t separate. Yes, there will be some solids like the pepper, and the turmeric may not completely dissolve, so it may take some getting used to as it’s not your typical smooth latte. And of course, you can use vanilla milk as well, but if you use unflavoured, you’ll want to add some sweetener like maple syrup.
OR, if you want to add some caffeine to this, which I often do in the morning, change it slightly to:
2/3 Cup chocolate non-dairy milk
baby poop turmeric paste
1/2-1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
1/3 Cup brewed tea
Boil water and make the tea separately. I normally let the tea sit and brew while I stir the milk and paste and then discard the tea bag and pour the milk into the teacup. Then add the oil and enjoy!
You may be asking yourself, Why add actual tea, and why use flavoured, processed, nondairy milk which are both inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory drink? Well, my answer is the same to many quandaries in life: balance. I’m not going to sit and suffer through a bitter sludge just because it’s good for me. Ok, actually I probably would, but I don’t want to. I want it to taste good, so if I have to sacrifice some of the benefits so that I can get the immense psychological benefit of enjoying the bitter sludge, I’m going for it. Plus, the fact that this has worked for me tells me I’m doing something right. It may not work for you, and of course, you’ll want to clear it with your doctor so it doesn’t interfere with medications/treatments you may be taking, but I do think it’s worth a try. If you do give it a go, let me know!