The Legalities and Benefits of Drinking Raw Milk
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on September 29, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
It is important to remember that while pasteurization does kill off harmful microbes, it also removes many positive health benefits as well. It is interesting to note that raw milk has all eight essential amino acids in it as well as a wealth of proteins. The proteins, in turn, are easy to digest and about twenty percent of them are classified as whey proteins, meaning that they play an important role in your physiological health. You will also find that milk is high in lactic acid, which allows you to absorb nutrients more effectively and to stop harmful bacteria. Similarly, there are also many vitamins in raw milk that are removed through pasteurization, and these vitamins are essential for maintaining good health.
In comparison to pasteurized milk, which actually minimizes the bioavailability of several nutrients including calcium, raw milk naturally contains more of the following:
Calcium – 26.6%
Iron – 194%
Selenium – 10.7%
Zinc – 227%
Vitamin B1 (otherwise known as thiamine) – 25%
Vitamin B6 – This is totally eradicated by pasteurization, and so it is fully available in raw milk
Vitamin B12 – 11.1%
Vitamin C – 335%
Vitamin E – 17.6%
The Need for Pasteurization
We are taught that pasteurized milk is much safer for us and that drinking unpasteurized milk or raw milk, as it is often called, can make us ill or even cause fatalities. There is emerging evidence, however, that pasteurization was a process that dealt with bad dairy processing that was present at the time; these processes have been significantly improved, and some argue that pasteurization has no place in a modern set up.
Every single enzyme in raw milk is destroyed during the pasteurization process, which heats the milk to about 161 F. Commonly known as enzymes that are destroyed are:
Phosphates – This enzyme helps with calcium absorption
Lactoferrin – This enzyme helps with iron absorption
Lactase – This enzyme is needed to help digest the milk sugar lactose
It is quite common these days to meet people who are lactose intolerant, meaning that they cannot drink milk whatsoever. However, since raw milk has naturally occurring lactase, it can be drunk by lactose intolerant people.
Other health benefit claims of drinking raw milk include stomach and digestion issues clearing up, allergies going away, and some people even claiming that they feed raw milk to their dogs to help eliminate flea infestations.
Something else to consider is that most store bought milk comes from the modern Holstein cow which is only bred to produce insanely large quantities of milk, by being fed special feed, grains and antibiotics. Therefore a modern Holstein cow’s milk contains high levels of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, even if the cow has not been injected with the genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone which is used to ‘help’ a cow increase her milk production.
The Legality of Drinking Raw Milk
If you are curious about raw milk, it is important to remember that there is actually no legal bar from drinking raw milk. However, it is worth noting that there are restrictions on selling raw milk that vary from state to state. The sale of raw milk is legal in 28 States in the USA. However, most States do not allow it to be sold to the general public and in some cases it cannot be sold as anything besides pet food!
There are a few stores in California, New Mexico and Connecticut that do sell raw milk on their shelves.
Both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that unpasteurized milk has the potential to carry foodborne bacteria such as Listeria and E. coli, and have therefore deemed raw milk to be unhealthy and have therefore placed a variety of bans on the sale of it throughout the USA.
However, the more people who want the option of buying and drinking raw milk, the higher the possibility of the US government giving more leeway to small dairy farmers to allow them to sell raw milk.
Photo Credit: iLoveButter
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan