Many cultural practices across the globe say that a plain glass of milk before going to bed aids in a good night’s sleep. The recent trend amongst individuals is “moon milk”, which is said to boost your hormones like melatonin and serotonin that help in sleeping better. Experts say that moon milk is made of a mixture of spices and herbs — and adding nutmeg to it gives the perfect drink to get good quality shut-eye.
What is moon milk and what are its benefits?
Widely gaining popularity in the world of wellness, “Moon milk is a frothy pastel-colored mixture of spices, herbs, and warm milk,” says Dr Veena G Rao, professor and HOD, department of Panchakarma, JSS Ayurvedic Medical College, Mysore. Moon milk helps in sleeping as milk promotes relaxation by its natural sleep-inducing contents like tryptophan and melatonin, she says.
Moon milk is a calming elixir that not only reduces the cortisol levels but also promotes sleep, says Dr Delvin T Robin, associate professor, department of swasthavritta (preventive and social medicine), Amrita School of Ayurveda, Kochi.
Explaining the ingredients of moon milk, Dr Robin said that it contains ayurvedic herbs. “Moon milk consists of herbs like turmeric, nutmeg, ashwagandha, and honey — and each herb comprises a specific benefit. The star ingredient of moon milk is nutmeg,” he added.
What is nutmeg?
While nutmeg tree or Myristica fragrant is an indigenous evergreen tree of Indonesia, the nutmeg seed has outer, red arils called mace and an inner, brown kernel called nutmeg, both of which are used as a spice.
“Nutmeg is known to contain various phytonutrients which help to increase the serotonin levels, thus, promoting relaxation and sleep quality—simultaneously,” says Dr Suhas H S, consultant- pulmonologist, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru.
He adds, “Warm milk consists of tryptophan and is usually suggested to be consumed at night-time. Tryptophan acts as a precursor to the production of both melatonin and serotonin which can help to enhance sleep and quality of sleep.”
Furthermore, he added how adding turmeric to your moon milk also helps improve sleep quality as it contains a major component called curcuminoids which is known to have sedative action. However, excess of any of these can also result in harm to the body, he said.
How to make moon milk?
“Take 1 cup milk (dairy milk, almond milk, coconut milk), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ashwagandha, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon honey. Warm the milk, add all the ingredients, and bring it to a boil. Make sure it is not over-boiled. Add honey at the end. Strain the spices and add it to a cup,” says Dr Vidyashree M, assistant professor, SVYASA (deemed-to-be) university, Bengaluru.
A word of caution
Nutmeg, if taken in excessive amounts, has been documented to cause liver toxicity, say experts. “Even though nutmeg in milk may help in inducing sleep to a certain extent, if a person faces long-standing sleep deprivation or is diagnosed with insomnia will be required to seek medical attention and further help from the doctor to decide on what is the best course of action to maintain sleep,” says Dr Suhas H S.
According to the journal, “Assessment of Nutritional and Medicinal Properties of Nutmeg”, by Scientific African, Nutmeg has been reported to show hallucinogenic effects due to the presence of hallucinogenic phenyl-propane, which are hepatotoxins and are considered harmful if used frequently and in excess amounts.
- Moon milk is a beverage that is best known for promoting better sleep due to its natural sleep-inducing ingredients.
- Nutmeg—a primary ingredient in moon milk, can increase serotonin levels and enhance relaxation and sleep quality.
- Individuals on medications should exercise caution, as nutmeg, especially in large amounts, may interfere with the medications.
- Nutmeg in large amounts can be hallucinogenic.
- If you have a sleep disorder like long-standing sleep deprivation or insomnia, then it’s best to consult a doctor.