There is a lot of arguments about the benefits and harmfulness of the cow’s milk for human health. We'll talk today about the qualities of the cow's milk from an Ayurvedic point of view. What do classical Ayurvedic texts say about milk? How we can use this information nowadays?
Vagbhata says: ‘Cow's milk promotes long life, is a rejuvenator, good for those emaciated after injury (especially to the chest), increases intelligence, strength and breast milk; helps the easy movement of the bowels and cures exhaustion, dizziness, toxicity, inauspiciousness, dyspnoea, cough, severe thirst, and hunger, long-standing fevers, dysuria, and bleeding disease.’
‘Cow’s milk has ten properties. It is sweet, cooling, soft, unctuous, thick, glossy, viscid, heavy, slow, and clear. Possessing these qualities which are common with those of the vital essence, is promotive of vital essence. Milk is said to be foremost among the vitalizers and rejuvenators.’ - Charaka Samhita. Sutrasthana 27. 217-218.
These all are also the qualities of Ojas. Ojas is our life force. When there's Ojas life is present. When we start to lose Ojas destruction happens. Loss of the Ojas leads to the loss of the body, even the loss of life. There's the reason Vagbhata says the cow’s milk promotes long life and rejuvenation.
It is heavy, thick, viscid, slow, cooling. These are qualities of Kapha Dosha. Therefore, we should avoid milk, when there're congestion, cold feeling, heaviness after food, stagnation, numbness, cough with thick white mucus, indigestion, etc.
On the other hand, it has opposite qualities of Vata (sweet, soft, unctuous, thick, glossy, viscid, heavy, slow) and Pitta (sweet, cooling, soft, thick, heavy, slow, and clear) Dosha. Hence useful for Vata and Pitta aggravation. It's beneficial for debility, emaciation, strength, cooling, and calming down. Highly useful in all cases, where we want to build tissues or increase unctuousness.
It is beneficial for kids because they're growing up.
Cow's milk promotes lodging and maintenance of pregnancy.
It vitalizer and rejuvenator hence useful for the elderly.
It helps to calm down and nourish after hard working or stressful day. Therefore beneficial for mid-age.
Everyone can have the advantage of drinking whole cow's milk. Remember about a few exemptions. Avoid using milk in poor digestion, obesity, Kapha aggravation, or allergic reaction on milk. And please avoid drinking cold milk in any case.
Come back to nowadays. Do we have the same milk Vagbhata and Charaka talked about? Not really. They talked about milk five thousand years ago. Pure cow's milk, whole, raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized. You're blessed if can drink that kind of milk and have all its benefits. Otherwise better to avoid white substance in a bottle marked as milk.
Some recipes for these lucky guys :)
Warm milk with honey and a pinch of turmeric useful for respiratory allergies.
Warm milk before bed has a mild laxative action and beneficial for constipation.
Milk boiled with Shatavari powder promotes the maintenance of a healthy embryo.
Warm milk with sugar or honey and ghee can be used by kids and adults to enhance vitality, strength, and vigor.
One more point to add, milk is not easily compatible with other foods. It doesn't go well with meat, fish, beans, yeast (bread), sour fruits, pickles, green leafy vegetables. Hence, these combinations need to be avoided.