Often referred to as lactose and casein on food packaging, milk with its derivatives is given many different names. Physicians refer to it as ‘white-blood’ due to its similarity to plasma in composition.
Milk is commonly obtained from the udders of cows, sheep, buffalos, goats, camels, reindeers or yak; other rare animals from which milk is also derived and drank include horses and donkeys.
The Arabic name for milk is labn although often mistakenly referred to as haleeb (a yogurt-like drink) it is one of many dairy products. Milk is best drunk raw as soon as it is extracted in order to acquire the full and maximum benefits – thus the benefits mentioned in this article mainly refer to raw milk. It provides useful moistures to the body, and there is no such liquid more beneficial after water than milk –it is no wonder that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wsalam) encouraged supplicating on drinking it ‘Allahummah barik lana feehi, w zidna minhu’ – ‘O Allah, bless it for us and give us more of it’.
This palatable pure liquid is rich in whiteness and flow, and acts as a wholesome food, often leaving milk residue in the mouth.
Sheep milk is the most watery and potent in smell; it is also known to be quicker in quenching the thirst and cooling the body.
Goat’s milk is considered mild and light, lower in fat than cows’ milk and works as a mild laxative.
The thickness and fat in cow’s milk is between that of sheep and goats milk, and it is has been reported to be one of the best forms of milk. The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wsalam): “Drink cow milk because it grazes on all types of plants.”
Reference made to milk can be found in the Quran: “And verily! In the cattle, there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from between excretions and blood, pure milk; palatable to the drinkers.” (16:66)
As for its mention in the Sunnah there are many, one such narration as has been authentically reported from the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wsalam) is his saying “…And whomever Allah gives milk to drink should say: Allahummah barik lana feehi, wa zidna minhu’ – ‘O Allah, bless it for us and give us more of it’ for I do not know of a more complete food or drink than milk. [At-Tirmidhi 5/506, Saheeh At-Tirmidhi 3/158]
The nutrients and chemical components contained in milk are numerous – those most commonly known are protein, energy, carbohydrates and fat. Other nutrients contained within milk include calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, protein, vitamin A (9% of GDA is found in whole milk, with a smaller amount found in semi-skimmed and skimmed milk), Vitamin D (in trace amount), Vitamin C, E, K, B (B1, B2, B6), niacin, folate, iodine (winter milk contains slightly higher level of iodine than summer milk), zinc, potassium and low levels of selenium and iron.
Although the tremendous benefits of milk are possibly endless we will only mention a few:
Milk contains the protein called casein which prevents the loss of calcium and phosphate in the teeth’s enamel by forming a protective thin film, thus helping to prevent decay. Its nutrients of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and protein are all essential for the development and growth of healthy bones. The vitamins contained within milk are vital in producing, maintaining and promoting a healthy growth of tissues and cells as well as preventing damage to cell membranes due to the vitamin E it contains.
Milk acts as a coagulant (correctly clotting blood) which is vital in healing wounds. It contains anti-inflammatory properties due to CRP (C-reactive protein) values – which if in high levels indicate inflammation, a common ailment in allergic reactions; milk reduces inflammation by opening up passages in the head and other openings in the body. It also acts as an anti-oxidant and immuniser by preventing damage to cell membranes, thus it is said to reduce the risk of cancer if drunk daily.
In addition to these benefits it provides wetness to the body and is a nutritional food.
It is said that the first usage of milk as a medicine initiated in the early 20th century, although its mention has been made by Hippocrates. At the very least to say, we know that the prescription of milk as a medicine goes far back as the era of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wsalam) as we can see from a report that mentions “Some people of 'Ukl or 'Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk…” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 4, Hadith No.234)
There are many studies made on milk, as well as campaigns in many countries including America for the drinking of ‘real’ raw milk due to its beneficial findings.
The following studies illustrate the protective factor of calcium found in milk:
In a survey of 5000 residents The American Heart Association found that men with normal blood pressure drunk twice as much milk than sufferers of high blood pressure.
At the University of Pittsburg middle-aged women were interviewed regarding food habits and those who recalled regularly drinking milk from childhood to the age of 35 had more solid and healthier bones than those who drank less.
A 20 year study by Dr. Cedric Garland and others found that those who drank no milk were almost three times more at risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who drank milk daily.
Findings by the company ‘Organic Pastures Raw Dairy’ mention that 90% of people suffering from lactose intolerance with pasteurized milk or dairy products could drink raw milk with no problem at all. Furthermore their findings in relation to raw milk suggest numerous benefits such as helping respiratory problems and allergies.
From soaps, bath and shower gels to moisturisers and eye cream, milk extracts are used in products to obtain the benefits contained within.
1. Skincare – apply on the skin and leave for 15 minutes and wash with water, this should help with removing dry skin, making it soft and smooth. It is famously known that the ancient queen Cleopatra is reported to have bathed daily in milk and honey for smooth and healthy skin. Concentrated milk formula is now made readily available in the shops for the same usage.
2. For healthy bones and teeth – drink milk daily.
The side effect related to milk (only for some individuals) is called lactose intolerance (sensitivity to the sugars in milk products). Sufferers of lactose intolerance usually find that drinking milk is accompanied with wind, diarrhoea, pain or a bloating within four hours, and although they will not obtain the same benefits as cows’ milk are advised to drink soya milk as an alternative.
Doctors suggest that over-consumption can lead to anaemia due to the lack of iron it contains. Due to milk being wholesome nourishment one may not have an appetite for other foods, and thus lack a good iron intake, this can also lead to becoming underweight. However, if milk is over consumed alongside a healthy balanced diet this can lead to becoming overweight. Excessive drinking of milk can also be harmful for the teeth and gums hence on one occasion the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wsalam) drank milk, rinsed his mouth and said, "It has fat." (Book 4, Hadith No.210)
Milk is not recommended during sickness.
© R Khanom