Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Ready for Raw Milk?

Do you think drinking raw milk is a good idea? If so, do I need to take a probiotic supplement or is the raw milk sufficient? 

Answer (Published 9/20/2011)

Drinking raw milk appears to be gaining in popularity, but I'm not sure that it's a good idea. Proponents of raw milk make extravagant health claims for it - that it cures thyroid deficiency, asthma, and allergies, for example. Most of the claims are anecdotal and the scientific evidence for such benefits is sparse. Essentially, these ideas are based on two studies, one published in June 2006 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and the other in May 2007 in Clinical and Experimental Allergy. Both suggested that children who lived on farms and drank raw milk had fewer problems with asthma and hay fever than did kids drinking pasteurized milk.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

Milk is pasteurized for a reason - to kill the organisms that can otherwise cause such serious diseases as listeriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. When they occur, these diseases are especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems.  In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, fetal death or illness or death of newborns, even when the mother doesn't get sick. 

Proponents of raw milk claim that pasteurization reduces the nutritional content of milk. I know of no evidence that supports this. If you want to drink raw milk, make sure that it is from a grade A dairy and that the milk is tested frequently by state inspectors. Be aware, however, that in the United States, interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal and that more than 20 states ban it. (Elsewhere, raw milk can be sold under laws that vary from state to state.)

I don't think probiotics would be protective against any disease-causing organisms in raw milk. I also suspect that lactose-intolerant individuals would find that raw milk is even less digestible than pasteurized milk.

If you're asking if I recommend raw milk over pasteurized milk, the answer is "no." And I'm not a big proponent of drinking cow's milk in the first place. Most adults worldwide are lactose intolerant and can't digest the natural sugar in milk. Beyond that, the milk protein (casein) can irritate the immune system and stimulate mucus production, worsening allergy symptoms. This is why milk consumption is associated with recurrent childhood ear infections, eczema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and sinus conditions. Even those who are not allergic to milk but have autoimmune diseases or digestive problems may find that their symptoms improve when they eliminate milk and milk products.

Andrew Weil, M.D

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here