Hot Milk + Turmeric for a Sore Throat

hot milk with turmeric

It may seem strange to post a sore throat remedy during the first days of Spring. But just as I was beginning to enjoy the warmth and the extra hours of sunlight, I was hit by another bout of allergies. They’ve been acting up recently, and without rain to clear the air, this season has been especially bad. This morning I woke up with a dry, scratchy throat that even a good dose of Claritin couldn’t stop. 

My aunt passed down this recipe for an Indian sore throat remedy to me years ago. I’ve been using it ever since.  A mug of this turmeric-spiced milk first thing in the morning or shortly before bed brings almost instant relief. I like to make this drink piping hot, and sip it slowly. It soothes sore throat symptoms for 30 minutes to an hour after you drink it, depending on how bad symptoms are. Sometimes even longer, as in the case of these allergies. (I was cough-free for a full two hours after I drank this tonic.) When you’ve been suffering from a sore throat for few days, a simple hour or two of complete relief can be remarkably relaxing.

black pepper and turmeric

After browsing the modern-day research, my aunt’s recipe makes perfect sense. Turmuric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been linked to lowered Alzheimer rates in certain countries, and researchers think it may be effective against cancers and arthritis. Compounds in black pepper (pipeline) help with the absorption of turmeric and curcumin, it’s main medically active component.

Regardless of the health claims, one thing’s for sure— it’s soothing and does the body good. Combined with honey to sooth the throat and black pepper to clear congestion, it works small miracles.

turmeric powder

If you don’t have powdered dry turmeric root at home, you’ll be able to find it at Indian grocery stores or health food markets.


I use plain, local honey from my grocery store. Almost any honey works for this.

slurry of milk, honey, and spices

If you’re avoiding dairy, this can be made with soy or almond milk instead. It’s best to make this with a milk that contains some fat, though. Even a 1% milk will do, but the fat is thought to improve bioavailability of the curcumin.

Start with a slurry of hot milk, honey, turmeric, and black pepper. Once everything is dissolved together, pour in the rest of the milk.

hot milk + turmeric

And heat until steaming.

hot milk + turmeric + black pepper + honey

Hot Milk + Turmeric Sore Throat Remedy
makes 1 cup
1 cup milk (almond, rice, or soy milk can be substituted)
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon turmuric
pinch ground black pepper
  1. Place a couple of tablespoons of the milk in a microwave-safe mug. Microwave until steaming hot, roughly 30 seconds.
  2. Add honey, turmeric, and black pepper to the mug. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Add the remaining milk, stir again, and microwave until hot, 1-2 minutes but varies by microwave.

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