Milk of the cow is an opaque, white or yellowish white, very slightly alkaline fluid that is chemically termed as an emulsion which is a colloidal suspension of fat and other particles. It is just a little more viscous than water. In taste it is sweet or bland and it also has a faint but an unique odour. If kept for long it ferments and gets sour. Specific gravity of the ordinary milk is between 1.027 to 1.034. This is lower in a milk that has a higher fat content. If a drop of milk is inspected under microscope, numerous minute globules of fat can be seen to be floating as an emulsion.
It is not easy to specify as to when man began using the milk of animals as his food. Domestication of cow for this purpose must have taken place very early in his civilization. Buffaloes, goats and the camels were the few more animals that became added to this list, also quite soon but in some restricted regions of human society. However, cows and then buffaloes constitute the most prevalent animals utilised for this purpose.
The most important element in milk is calcium whose non- availability to an adequate degree in the body makes it progressively weak; the deleterious effects are seen in nerves, blood vessels and bones; and, on the intestine and the stomach. To keep the body strong and healthy, milk is essential on many other counts as well. For health, beauty and long life there is nothing like milk. It is advisible that every one should consume milk daily as much as possible.
There are many other types of milk products available in modern times.
Some rnilk products were mentioned above. They and the Sanskrit names of a few of them are as follows: cream (santanika), butter [navanila], skimmed milk, butter milk [takra), curd or curdled milk [dadhi), whey (mastu), cheese, ghee (ghrita) and milk sugar containing the lactose sugar alone.
Milk is usually considered as cooling, nutritive, strengthening and infact a very vitalising food. It Is also demulcent (soothing) and emollient (softening).
To appreciate the action of milk in the body, it is relevant to enquire as to how bacteria act upon the milk. Bacterial action destroys milk by fermentation and putrefaction. Fermentation or what is usually called as souring is the usual change and this consists in breaking down of the lactose sugar of the milk to lactic acid which on its turn precipitates and thus separates casein.
As a food milk is unique. It has all the food factors:
(1) Proteins. The milk proteins are: casein, lactalbumin and lactoglobulin. Casein, the chief protein occurs combined with calcium as calcium caseinogenate. Milk from cow, buffalo and goat has three times of protein compared to the human milk. The ratio of casein to albumin is nearly 1:1 in the human milk; it is 7:1 in animal milk. Milk protein has all the essential amino acids for body building.
The following comparative table of the contents of milk will serve as a good aid to estimate the value of food as an excellent nutrient food.
(i) A comparative table of the average food content in percentage of the different types of milk:
As an article of food milk is uniquely and incomparably suited to all types of individuals – the infants, the children, the youth and aged; the emasiated, the starved, the convalescent; the exhausted, the weak and those who become weak due to sexual excesses; for sucking women; and, for persons suffering from varied diseases, such as chronic fever, mental diseases, gastric or stomach discharge, ulcers and cancers of the stomach, gastric disorders like dyspepsia or indigestion, intestinal disorders like diarrhoea as well as dysentery, urinary disorders such as albuminuria (i.e. discharge of albumen along with urine, as in diabetes) and also ascites (or collection of morbid fluids or dropsy and abdominal swellings) and anasarca (dropsy—in the skin and the layers beneath the skin). Sushruta, a very respected classical author on Ayurveda however cautions that milk should not be given for drinking in cases of low fever as it might even cause death.
The qualities of the different types of the milk products are as follows:
Butter Milk is astringent, light for digestion, cooling, appetising, nutritive and is a general fortifying tonic.
Diseases of the Head
(i) Headache due to heat: This affects those who consume too much of heating substances or those who wander too much in sun. For this, take half a ser of cow’s milk and take also three tolas of tamarind that is washed well with hot water. Add sugarcandy, cool it down and then drink. 3-4 days of its use would definitely stop the ache in the head. Massaging the head along with this procedure will ensure non-recurrence of the pain also.