Glance next to you. What’s in your mug?
Likely, your toasty beverage of choice is caffeinated.
Let’s be honest. It’s coffee. Sweet, bitter, chocolaty, comforting rocket-fuel: coffee.
A dedicated coffee queen for years, I eventually admitted it was a trigger for my anxiety. Jitters, racing heart, trouble sleeping, the works. I weaned myself off the juice in 2015 and replaced the ritual with black tea. Still packing a punch of caffeine, black tea gives me a smoother buzz and perks me up.
I drink two cups of tea in the morning, and by the time I finish the second, I’m in the zone of focus. The craving for another hot, comforting cup sets in.
If I give in to a third, even tea, the jitters return. Why not switch to decaf? Unfortunately, the decaffeinating process for both coffee and tea involves unsavory chemicals I’d rather avoid.
Thankfully, I’ve found a delicious tea and coffee substitute that not only satisfies the rich beverage fix we writers crave, but also lifts the mood, reduces inflammation, and may improve memory and cognition, among other perks in a long list of health benefits.
The perfect coffee or tea substitute: Brain Fog Bustin’ Golden Milk
You’ve probably seen this healthful drink making its rounds on Instagram and wellness blogs. I initially thought: A drink made from turmeric? Won’t that taste like curry? Nope. Trust me. It’s delicious and a powerhouse of health benefits.
Ingredients for brain boostin’ golden milk:
Cinnamon: ½ teaspoon
Turmeric: ½ teaspoon
Black pepper: A pinch
Ginger: A pinch
Nutmeg: A pinch
Organic maple syrup: 1 tablespoon (reduce if you’re watching sugar or prefer a less sweet taste)
Almond milk or dairy alternative of your choice: 1 ½ cup
Optional – Coconut oil: 1 teaspoon
How to make it:
In a small saucepan, whisk all ingredients into the almond milk. Heat on medium-low until desired temperature (but don’t boil), whisking often.
Some folks add coconut oil for its benefits as a healthy fat, but I’m currently watching my cholesterol. Coconut oil adds a buttery richness, so adjust to your unique needs.
You can substitute almond milk with regular milk or your favorite dairy alternative like coconut or rice milk. The important ingredient is turmeric, so get creative and tailor to your taste and dietary needs.
Golden Milk + Writers: A Love Story
Not only will this golden drink satisfy your craving for something warm and rich in your “Write Like a Motherf*%#er” mug, but the benefits are tailor-made for writers. There’s a reason these spices have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, especially the key ingredient: turmeric.
Let’s jump in.
Turmeric Curcuma longa
This wonder spice is having its moment in wellness circles right now. But turmeric has been used in Ayurveda throughout South Asia for thousands of years. And for good reason. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory.
The terms “inflammation” and “anti-inflammatory” get tossed around a lot. But what does inflammation actually mean?
Inflammation is one of the body’s natural defenses. Whether fighting bacteria or recovering from a burn, inflammation helps the body heal. It’s a good thing! But in the high-stress, highly toxic environment of 2018, our bodies can become chronically inflamed.
As a writer, two issues that stand out to me are brain fog and depression.
I reach for a third cup of tea because I’m looking for an energy and focus boost. If one thing can sabotage my momentum and mood to write, it’s the rolling clouds of brain fog. As an anti-inflammatory, turmeric lifts me from the fog.
Another roadblock that stalls my writing flow is depression. Turmeric, it turns out, can have a positive effect on mood.
Clears up brain fog and gives me a leg up against depression? Yes, please!
Cinnamon Cinnamomum cassia
Mmm, don’t you love a dash of cinnamon in your latte or greek yogurt? But if you’re trying to cut down on sugar or manage glucose levels, cinnamon is a friend to writerly wellness. There’s evidence that cinnamon has anti-diabetic, and antioxidant effects.
Black Pepper Piper nigrum
Black pepper is a rock star in its own right. But black pepper and turmeric are more powerful together than they are separately. This is called “synergy,” and it means the same thing in herbalism as it does in art and business: The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Think David Bowie and Freddie Mercury in “Under Pressure.”
Remember all those impressive health benefits of turmeric? Well, they’re only helpful if the body absorbs it, and our bodies have a bit of trouble absorbing turmeric. Enter black pepper.
The active constituent in black pepper, piperine, increases the body’s absorption of curcumin, the beneficial constituent in turmeric that gives it those healthful actions.
In one study, piperine increased the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%. The researchers concluded, “piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin in both rats and humans with no adverse effects.”
So, yeah. Black pepper and turmeric are basically nutritional superheroes who––”WITH OUR POWERS COMBINED!!”––help us focus, lift the mood, and fight off chronic inflammation.
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans
Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices; I’m always adding a pinch to my chocolate chip cookies or pancakes. And the sweet, spicy flavor of nutmeg and cinnamon are a helpful combo if you’re trying to kick sugar.
To top it off, nutmeg is also a mild sedative, so it’ll chill you out after that second cup of coffee.
Ginger Zingiber officinale
Ginger can do more than add a snap to holiday cookies. It’s best known as a buddy to an upset belly, which is a welcome relief if you’re sensitive to the tannins in coffee and tea. Or, when you feel a swell of bubbling nausea at facing a blank page. Kidding... not kidding.
Golden milk is truly a gift to writers. With memory boosting, brain fog busting, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities, it deserves a sacred place beside us as we write our masterpieces.
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What’s in your mug? What are your strategies for beating brain fog or dips in mood? Let’s chat in the comments.
**Disclaimer** This blog post is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to replace medical advice or treat, diagnose, prevent, or mitigate disease. I’m not an herbalist or licensed healthcare practitioner––just a writer with a love for natural remedies and writerly wellness. Always check with your doctor or naturopath before using herbs or essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
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