January and February are always the hardest months of the year for me. The cold, bleak weather combined with way too much time indoors brings me down. Irritability and insomnia take their toll, and I find I’m a major bear. Last week we had a few warm, sunny days—only to sink back into 30-degree temps this week. Brr. Grr.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about how turmeric is great for brightening skin, and I stumbled onto this amazing spice again when looking for natural scar remedies [source]. Sam nosedived into a table recently and got a few stitches on his forehead. I’m applying a turmeric paste to reduce the rather unsightly scar.
Turns out turmeric is not only great for healing scars, but it can also help with the winter blues, and many people feel it is also helpful for calming the nervous system and getting to sleep.
Turmeric is rich in curcumin, an antioxidant that helps your body produce more serotonin and dopamine [source], both of which are natural mood boosters. Even just adding a teaspoon of turmeric into your daily diet can reduce the blues.
In fact, a recent study by Baylor University showed that taking 1,000 mg of curcumin daily could have the same effects as taking an antidepressant [source]. You can buy curcumin supplements here to use when needed for those times when you feel a little down, or use the powder and whole root forms.
Apparently, turmeric is a lot like coconut oil—you can use it for just about anything. It’s naturally anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory and works on everything from acne to Alzheimer’s [source].
Dr. Sanjay Gupta drinks turmeric tea to calm his nerves before bed. Yep, this warm, spicy tea has some relaxing qualities for sure.
Curcumin has also been shown to counteract the effects of sleep deprivation [source]. So try using it for those times when you can’t seem to catch up on your sleep, like during the busy holiday season when there just isn’t enough time to get everything done in the day.
For the best overall effect, try using the whole root, which is known to increase by seven or eight times your body’s ability to use curcumin it provides [source]. You can chop it finely or grate it to steep in hot water or for use in your cooking.
My family drinks almond milk, but you can use whatever milk you like. Start out with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and work your way up to 1 teaspoon. Not only do you get the turmeric benefits, but I find the ritual of making the tea and drinking the warm milk to be really comforting.
My sleep and my mood have definitely improved. Plus, it tastes pretty darn good, which calms my nightly munchies cravings.
Take a look at this article to see how the addition of pepper enhances the beneficial effects of curcumin. Even just a pinch of pepper boosts the levels of curcumin in the blood, allowing it to do what it does best.
Have you tried turmeric for the winter blues?
3 Turmeric Teas & Lattes To Try
Chai-Spiced Turmeric Latte
- 1 cup plant-based milk
- 1/2 teaspoon chai spice mix
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 pinch black pepper
- To make your own chai spice mix, combine 1 teaspoon each cardamom, allspice, and ground cloves with 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 3 teaspoons powdered ginger in a glass jar. Give it a good shake to mix everything together.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1/2 teaspoon of the chai spice mix. Whisk to remove any lumps, and let it simmer for about a minute until the milk becomes nice and frothy.
- Remove from heat, and pour into a mug. Sweeten with raw honey, and sprinkle with extra turmeric and a pinch of black pepper.
- 8 ounces comfortably hot water
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1- to 2- inch piece fresh ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Pinch ground cayenne pepper
- Combine in a glass. Let steep for a minute or two, then sip.
Besides using the whole root whenever possible, another tip is to take your turmeric with a little fat, which increases the availability of the curcumin for use by the body. This recipe uses coconut oil to make a rich, frothy latte.
Energizing Turmeric Dandelion Latte
- 8 ounces boiling water
- 1 Traditional Medicinals Dandelion Leaf & Root tea bag
- 1 Traditional Medicinals Turmeric with Meadowsweet & Ginger tea bag
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½–1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
- Stevia to taste optional
- A grind of black pepper and a pinch of turmeric to garnish (optional)
- Steep tea bags in a cup of hot water for 10–15 minutes.
- Combine tea with other ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds until frothy.
- Pour into a mug and top with extra turmeric and black pepper.