Milk, By Henry G. Bieler M.D.

From his book "Food is Your Best Medicine"

  • Milk is the most nearly perfect of any one food

  • Milk can be a good source of protein for adults, children, and infants.

  • Mother’s milk is preferable to cow’s milk for human infants.

  • Raw milk is a fine nutrient protein that can rebuild body tissues.

  • Deteriorated milk products (buttermilk, dried milk powder, cheese, and concentrated, pasteurized or homogenized milk) show reduced value as foods and can contribute to poor development in mammals.

  • Raw milk is always preferable to any other forms.

In antiquity, priests of certain cultures made offerings of milk to their gods, in a heaven that was thought of as a cow with full udder.  Mankind’s oldest food has a unique place in nutrition: it is the most nearly perfect of any one food, and the best source of protein for adults as well as for infants and children.  However, because it tastes so good and goes down so easily, we often take it in excessive amounts.  Certainly, milk should not be used merely to quench one’s thirst. Milk is a food, not a drink.

If the chemistry of the liver is normal, raw milk causes no harm when taken as food, for the milk proteins are easily synthesized into our own body proteins.  (You will note that I said “raw”—not pasteurized.)  However, when the secretions of the liver are toxic and the bile is acid in reaction, trouble begins.  Remember that milk is primarily the food for the growing calf, which doubles the weight of its bones every month for the first three months of its life, whereas the human infant needs six months to double its birth weight.  To make this growth possible for the calf, cow’s milk must and does contain a much higher calcium content than human milk.  Dr. Henry C. Sherman of Columbia University, in his exhaustive studies of milk, found 58 grains of calcium to a quart of cow’s milk.  He also demonstrated that the growing human child could not use more than five grains a day. Again, for the calf’s rapid growth, a much larger percentage of protein is needed; it is found in the casein of milk.  This large amount of protein gives much energy to the calf. It can get along with a small amount of milk sugar, but the human baby needs less protein and calcium and more sugar. These proportions are found in human milk.  When we modify cow’s milk for the infant, we must keep this in mind. But why modify cow’s milk? Isn’t it time we rediscovered the mother’s breast as the most perfect food source for her baby?

The average daily amount of cow’s milk given to a baby up to six months should be one pint for each 24 hours.  From six months until six years of age, one and one-half pints are adequate.  But when other proteins such as eggs, cheese and meat are used, the amount of milk should be reduced accordingly.  Another important fact to remember is that the liver is relieved of great strain if only one protein is taken as a meal.  For instance, it is harmful to use milk or milk products at a meal where meat, fish, or fowl is served.  I cannot stress too highly that one protein at a meal is the best rule.

If the liver secretions and bile are toxic and acid, the curd of the milk, usually formed in the stomach, instead of being soft and flocculent, becomes as hard and tough as rubber, and leads to much indigestion and constipation.  The whey, being alkaline and full of calcium, neutralizes the acid bile, resulting in urate of lime, a muddy white substance which can clog the bile ducts, settle in the gall bladder and easily give rise to gallstones. This same substance gives the white coating to the tongue as well as the disagreeable odor from the mouth.  (The strong odor of Limburger cheese comes from the putrefaction of the whey.)

Remember that the tongue is the barometer of the liver.  The type of coating, the edema, the inflammation of the various kinds of papillae and their eventual atrophy all indicate certain stages of liver damage.  In liver disease, we must be carefully, therefore, how we use milk as a dietary protein, especially in older people. Dr. Leonard Williams of London made a sound observation when he remarked that a great many old people were floated into their coffins on milk.

Raw milk (or its constituent parts), when properly used, is one of the best nutrient proteins that can be offered as a rebuilder of body tissues.  Hippocrates prescribed it for the treatment of tuberculosis. Dr. S. Wier Mitchell accomplished wonders in his practice. and much of his therapy consisted of the milk diet combined with plenty of rest.

Many of the clinical states now classified as hypoadrenia (adrenal exhaustion) respond perfectly to the milk diet.  And most milk-diet sanatoria stress the importance of much rest while taking milk at half-hour intervals. Four and a half to seven quarts are given daily.  The milk is always fresh raw milk with most of the cream removed.

Dr. Charles S. Porter, who has given the milk-diet cure to thousands of patients, describes the subject response of this diet:

Within two hours after commencing the diet, the action of the heart will be accelerated and within twelve to twenty-four hours, there will be a gain of six beats to the minute.  Within two or three days there will be an increase of about twelve beats to the minute; the pulse will be full and bounding; the skin flushed and moist; the capillary circulation quick and active . . . . There is an increase in the general warmth of the body . . . . The stimulation of a full milk diet is very similar to the effects of alcoholic stimulation of the circulation, but the after-effects are entirely different . . . . The voluntary muscles of the body become firm and solid almost like an athlete’s limbs . . . . There is an increased power of the intestinal muscles, resulting in several copious bowel movements per day.

This is a perfect picture of what is called “adrenal response.”  However, remember that a milk diet is not the “cure” for everyone.  The response will depend upon the condition of the liver as indicated principally by the examination of the tongue and urine.

The following case history describes my own clinical results with a patient suffering from advanced hypoadrenia.  The patient, a 64-year-old Missouri farmer, was too weak to sit up; he suffered greatly from cold, and even with six hot water bottles, his rectal temperature refused to go above 93 degrees.  There was a pallor of the skin, cyanosis of the fingernails, moderate dyspnea, advanced auricular fibrillation, pulse 72, blood pressure 100/90. There was also a great deal of intestinal gas, with such frequent eructations from the stomach that his rest was disturbed, and a moderate edema of the legs and feet was evident, even when resting.

Treatment consisted of a diet of the curd of sweet raw milk mixed with finely chopped green lettuce—a teaspoonful every fifteen minutes the first two days and nights.  Then the dose was gradually increased and given every half-hour during 14 hours of the day. His weight was 122 pounds. In two days, he began to sleep and his heart was more regular, but he was still intensely cold.  In five days, he was warmer and the cyanosis was gone. In 11 days, his edema had disappeared and his weight was 114, far too low for a man six feet two inches tall. In 18 days he felt stronger, much warmer, and had no vertigo when erect.  His nails were pink and the irregularity of the heart was almost entirely disappeared. Thirty-two days after the treatment started, he returned to Missouri feeling well and strong. His weight went up to 121 pounds. In one month on the same diet he gained 27 pounds; a month later he weighed 153 pounds.  Two years after treatment began, he was able to resume his farm work. The amount of curd had been gradually increased until he was taking the curd of seven quarts of milk daily. No other food was given except the lettuce.

When first seen, this patient was in a far-advanced state of adrenal exhaustion. To whip what was left of his poor adrenals by giving salt solutions, stimulants, or digitalis would have resulted in myocardial collapse.  The protein colloids of the casein acted as a heart stimulant and simultaneously offered elements that the liver could use for general body repair. The adrenals gradually became recharged with phosphorus, and he made a complete recovery.

Raw milk is a good food and sometimes a good cure—that is, when used wisely.  The Swiss, whose main protein is from milk and milk products, and the Masai, whose diet contains practically nothing else but milk and raw blood (they bleed as well as milk their cows) are among the healthiest and strongest people in the world.

Nature has taken great pains to insure the freshness of milk by the “nipple to mouth” delivery system.  Indeed, the very chemical instability of milk makes for its easy digestibility. The Old Testament writers knew about this ease of digestion and exceptional nutritional qualities of milk when they said, “Such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Hebrews 5:12).

Unfortunately, man’s various attempts to preserve milk have all resulted in altering or breaking down the complex molecule and reducing its value as a food.  Far removed from the original formula are such deteriorations as buttermilk, dried milk powder, cheese, and concentrated, pasteurized, or homogenized milk. When the chief protein of the diet is composed of degenerated milk or milk products, the result is a mal-developed mammal.

I have always prescribed raw milk and in my half-century of practice have never seen a case of so-called “undulant” fever.  Pasteurized ilk putrefies in the intestines, whereas raw milk merely ferments. Indeed pasteurized milk will putrefy in the bottle, when placed in a warm room, and will be a smelly mess in four or five days.  Raw milk will only ferment and be edible as clabber.

It has always been known that the fresher the raw milk, the more valuable its quality as food.  Mr. Richard Dawson, a California dairyman, reported an experiment illustrating this fact. When cows gave birth to twin calves in his dairy, one calf was allowed to suckle the mother and the other was “bucket fed.”  The bucket milk was raw but had been chilled and was from 12 to 24 hours old. As the calves developed, the difference in growth was plainly apparent. As much as four inches difference in height was noted, and the bucket-fed calf was less vigorous and lacked the glossy coat of the former.  Dr. Pottenger showed that pasteurization of milk could result in deterioration fatal to animals in his cat experiments. John Thomson of Edinburgh reports another test with twin calves, one suckled and the other fed on pasteurized milk. The first was healthy but the second died within 60 days.  This experiment was repeated several times.

The statement of Hippocrates, “Thy food shall be thy remedy,” is as applicable today as it was centuries ago.  In view of the milk processors and innovators of new forms of preserving milk by powdering or concentrating it, another aphorism of Hippocrates is equally timely:  “For they praise what is outlandish before they know whether it is good, rather than the customary which they already know to be good; the bizarre, rather than the obvious.”