Some health and wellness crazes seem destined to be passing fads. Others have a real shot at becoming part of your life. A nighttime drink called “moon milk,” which started popping up on blogs in 2016 but is thousands of years old, may be the latter.
Moon milk takes the pre-snooze warm milk routine to the next level with added ingredients proven to promote restful sleep. Based on Ayurvedic medicine tradition, moon milk recipes feature adaptogens, which are herbs protecting the body from stress by promoting a healthy adrenal system.
Adrenal glands do everything from regulating the metabolism, immune system and blood pressure, to managing stress responses. Essentially they balance the body and protect it from the damage caused by stress.
Most moon milk recipes rely on something called ashwagandha as the key adaptogen. This powerful restorative herb is known as the “Indian ginseng.” It reportedly helps alleviate stress and fatigue, though WebMD states that there is insufficient evidence about ashwagandha’s medical benefits. (You can read more about the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of herbal supplements here.)
To make moon milk, you blend ashwagandha with spices in your milk of choice. When mixed in with other calming ingredients, it’s advertised as a lullaby in a mug.
While I count myself as very lucky that I rarely have difficulty falling asleep, I began the year fighting a losing battle with a bad cold and also losing sleep. Desperate to reboot and feel rested again, I put a homemade moon milk recipe to the test.
I opted for a vegan recipe from Heartbeet Kitchen. This one caught my attention for a few reasons. Not only was it one of the simplest, containing a handful of effective ingredients, it was the prettiest. I couldn’t resist the pastel pink froth.
(If spice is more your cup of tea, this golden moon milk is a good option. It is packed with six potent spices: turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper. Nutmeg is another natural sleep aid. These spices, along with ashwagandha, help soothe restless mind into sweet slumber.)
As I had hoped, the pink moon milk was easy to whip up. I combined the tart cherry juice, which is a natural source of melatonin, with homemade hazelnut milk. Then, I used my espresso machine’s steam wand to warm and froth the mixture. Once heated, I whisked in the ashwagandha and honey. I used an ashwagandha liquid extract instead of the powder because that’s what I could find at my local Whole Foods.
I didn’t have rose petals on hand, so my moon milk wasn’t quite as photogenic as the one on Heartbeet Kitchen. However, it did feature an inviting rosy hue. Still, the taste is ultimately more important than appearance! The tonic turned out pleasantly tart with a relaxing sweet aroma.
I sipped and savored every last drop before turning in for the night. I didn’t toss and turn and I woke up feeling fairly rested. The real test of its effectiveness would be during and after travel to fend off jet lag. Still, I could get used to moon milk as a relaxing nighttime tradition.
You don’t have to pull out everything from the pantry and make it from scratch to get the stress-relieving and fatigue-busting benefits. Companies like Moon Juice sell adaptogenic blends aimed at curing or improving a variety of ailments. Similarly, Sun Potion stocks high quality herbs, algae, greens and mushrooms. All the ingredients you need for a variety of moon milks and more are available with a click.
The next time you’re looking for a night cap, turn to this lullaby in a mug for guaranteed zzz’s.