Milk: Highly Venerated Vedic Food

According to Maharishi Ayurveda, milk provides special and unique nutrition that cannot be derived from any other type of food. Milk, when digested properly, nourishes all the tissues, promotes balanced emotions, and helps to balance all the doshas. It is one of the most important foods to promote ojas.

Ojas is a refined substance the body produces from the most subtle level of proper digestion. The ayurvedic texts say it brings strength, strong immunity, happiness, and contentment. Therefore, milk is a very important food to ayurveda, and valuable to include regularly in the diet — even more so if you follow a vegetarian lifestyle.

First of all, always use organic milk, free of rBGH, chemicals and pesticide residues. To digest milk properly, avoid drinking it cold right out of the refrigerator. Milk should always be brought to a boil. Allow it to foam up briefly and then bring the heat down so the milk slowly boils for 5 to 10 minutes. Heating the milk changes the molecular structure, making it much easier to digest. Preparing it this way reduces its inherent Kapha quality, making it lighter to digest. While cooking milk you can add a pinch of ground turmeric, a pinch of ground black pepper, a cinnamon stick, or a few pinches of ginger to reduce the heaviness of the milk and reduce any mucus-causing side effect.

If you have trouble digesting milk and haven't taken it for a time, then start again in a gradual fashion. This will help your body re-adjust to it. Drink less at first, starting with ⅛ of a cup of the boiled milk with ginger. Then gradually increase the amount to about a cup over a ten-day period.

Milk should be organic, whole, non-GMO and non-homogenized. Homogenized milk is very difficult to digest and can easily clog the finer channels of circulation. It is probable that milk that is not certified organic may contain rBGH. These are hormones that artificially increase milk production in the cow. The only way we know to avoid rBGH is to purchase organic milk, because currently the FDA does not require labeling on milk products that may have come from cows injected with the hormone. Cow's milk is considered to be the best, but raw goat milk is fine to use too.

Milk should not be mixed or eaten with sour, bitter, salty, astringent, or pungent tastes.

The old American tradition of drinking a glass of cold milk with dinner should be avoided and the milk replaced with pure drinking water or juice. When combined with incompatible tastes, milk becomes indigestible and causes the build-up of harmful toxins (ama) in the body. Meals cooked with milk, and also fish or meat, should not be eaten with milk. However, warm milk may be consumed with sweet tastes such as rice, cream of wheat, dates, mangos, and almonds. If you've just eaten and you wish to have warm milk, it's best to wait at least one hour after you have eaten a meal.

Warm milk consumed 30 minutes before bed can aid in falling asleep. Warm milk with a little natural sweetener makes a great afternoon snack for children when they come home after school.

Milk is a powerful healing food in Maharishi Ayurveda. Used smartly, it can become a delicious, effective tool for both nourishment and creating balance.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.