A Recipe for Rest


First came the turmeric latte and ghee. Now, another Ayurvedic marvel has made it onto Westerners’ radars: moon milk. Sometimes known as the ‘superfood latte’ or ‘mermaid milk’, Ayurvedic moon milk is eminently instagrammable and offers time-tested health benefits along with its hashtags. It blends milk with turmeric, ashwagandha, cinnamon, honey, and many potent herbs and spices—the ultimate bedtime drink that unwinds your mind, calms your body, and lures you to the land of blissful sleep. It’s often touted as a natural insomnia remedy, and among those looking to live a natural, healthy lifestyle. 

But while it may be new to Pinterest boards and cafe menus, Ayurvedic moon milk has been a pre-bedtime tradition for centuries in India. Ashwagandha—among its key ingredients—is an age-old Indian herb that can help in treating a range of disorders, and is an Ayurvedic staple, mentioned in the 400 BC texts Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita for its potent medicinal properties. It has a healing effect on the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety. Milk is rich in protein and the carbohydrate lactose. It also contains melatonin and tryptophan—two natural substances with calming properties, proven to boost sleep. 

Ashwagandha contains powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and antioxidant effects. It boosts immunity by increasing natural killer cells; alleviates stress; and enhances sleep. From fighting fatigue and strengthening muscles to improving mood, ashwagandha has a whole range of proven benefits.

The additional spices aren’t just for flavor: turmeric, for example, contains curcumin, whose long list of benefits is well-documented. Other ingredients like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg also add to the immune-boosting and stress-busting effects. 

The benefits of drinking Ayurvedic moon milk aren’t limited to its soothing properties. In addition to promoting restful sleep and fighting the effects of stress, it also acts as a natural hormone-balancing agent; enhances the immune system to protect against infections; and may help to relieve pain and inflammation—from joint soreness to menstrual cramps. Its antioxidant benefits can also help to boost cell health from the inside out. 

Moon milk is another precious gem from the Ayurvedic books that feels more vital than ever. Stress, anxiety, isolation, news cycle and changes to our daily routines: it all takes a toll on our physical and mental health, which can impair our immune systems. This makes Ayurvedic moon milk the perfect bedtime ritual—especially since most of the ingredients are sitting on your kitchen shelf. I say it’s time we take the lead and stop waiting for Western validation when it comes to our indigenous traditional remedies! 

Looking at the pretty palette of pastel pink, lavender, and blue, preparing a cup of Ayurvedic moon milk might seem like too much work before bed. But this simple recipe takes only fifteen minutes. 

Heat milk in a pan and bring it to a semi-boil. Add the herbs—ashwagandha, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg— stir for five minutes, and let it cool. Stir in some coconut milk. Pour it into a glass, and add turmeric and honey to your taste. 

The recipe varies across India according to the climate and season: in winter, warmer spices can be added, while in summer, people like to keep it light and cool. Try different combinations of spices and find your perfect moon milk.

A few other tried-and-true sleep improvers include wind-down aromatherapy; a warm foot bath and oil massage—and, of course, limiting caffeine and screen time. Poor sleep is often a symptom of stress: sometimes slowing down our day-to-day is the best cure.