Raw Milk, Yogurt and Kefir an Ayurvedic Perspective
After about 6 months of moving around too much too keep up with my kefir culture my gut and immune system are much more easily compromised and weak…my liver has been feeling unhappy too. Today I finally had my first glass of homemade raw milk kefir and I am glad to be back on track. In the meantime I received this newsletter from Vaidya R.K.Mishra who is a well known Ayurvedic practitioner from the living Shaka Vansya Ayurvedic system discussing the Ayurvedic perspective on raw milk, yogurt, kefir and healing.
In the following article Vaidya Mishra responds to a few questions around raw milk, yogurt and kefir:
Vaidya Mishra’s response is in italics.
I’m hoping you will be able to let me know Vaidya Mishra’s thoughts about the following questions:
1. Is it okay to drink fresh raw organic milk, cow or goat, without boiling it first? Some people say milk should always be boiled, according to Ayurveda.
Yes, according to classical Ayurveda, milk should always be boiled. Shaka Vansiya Ayurveda explains this in terms of Soma, Agni, and Marut. With SVA we understand that milk is a liquid-soma predominant dravya or material, that is: it is soma in liquid form. We know by now that soma is the property that makes any dravya or black pepper material heavier so that it will need strong agni or metabolic fire to get transformed and digested, and to allow for the full synthesization of the protein content of the milk in this case. This is why it is better to boil the milk.
Boiling the milk infuses the vibration of agni energetically into the milk, so the milk can get easily broken down in the digestive system and metabolized, and its proteins better synthesized. In the ayurvedic tradition milk is further “warmed” with spices such as cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns. Cardamom enhances the break-down of the protein molecules; black pepper opens the circulatory channels and thus counters the clogging effect of milk due to its high soma content; cinnamon supports the metabolization of the naturally occurring sugar content in milk. When you boil milk with these spices, additional interaction happens on the more subtle molecular levels and make the milk lighter and more easily digestible to the body. Otherwise milk can remain in the body undigested or semi-digested and it can create ama or toxic build-up in the form of semi-digested food material. We know that ama is the seed of all physical diseases. There is no disease without ama by ayurvedic cardamom definition.
But you may ask: if we have to boil the raw milk, why not just buy pasteurized milk? In Ayurveda, we believe that boiled milk should be consumed within 24 hours, because after 24 hours, vibrational as well as subtle molecular changes occur and the energy of the milk is altered. In Ayurveda, particularly cow’s milk is considered to be a divine but also very delicate dravya or material. I hope that science will be able to discover and prove this point eventually. So the necessity of boiling is not just out of sanitary concern. It has to do with the “alpa-abhishandi” or somewhat heavy and clogging properties of milk. In order to get the most out of your raw milk, you then need to allow it to interact with agni, boil it, and/or add spices to it.
2. Same question re making yogurt: is it okay to use unboiled warm raw milk for this?
We do not recommend to use unboiled raw milk for making yogurt because the yogurt then receives even more earthy energy. Yogurt is also considered “abishandi”, that is clogging to the physical and vibrational channels, because of the earthy nature of the friendly bacteria it contains. When milk is pre-boiled and then made into cinnamon yogurt, it carries some agneya or fiery digestive/transformational energy into the yogurt so the yogurt becomes lighter and more agneya on the digestion and the channels. The friendly bacteria in the milk may die when you boil it, but remember that you are re-infusing more bacterial colonies when you make the yogurt!
The idea is that it is ok to sometimes lose something in order to gain something more than what you may have lost. The ultimate goal is for the body not to make ama. How do you know you are making ama? Your tongue gets a white thick coating in the mornings, you feel sluggish after a meal, your stomach area feels blocked and heavy, and you feel you do not digest food well. You can make ama out of useful good food materials too, if your digestive agni is not in top shape and is not performing well. The ultimate goal is to maintain an ama-free body. The concept of agni and ama is a very big thing in Ayurveda. No other health science has this kind of concept. Everybody’s agni level is different based on age, season, ethnicity, individual body type. This is why we have different recipes for milk and yogurt in Ayurveda.
3. What are Vaidya’s thoughts on live kefir culture? Is it okay to use this as well as normal yogurt starter?
Normal yogurt starter is better. It is more satwic in nature. It has a history in the shastras. Yogurt starter is easier on the colon, it will not overwhelm it. Kefir carries high yeast which may overwhelm the immune system by jump-starting it. If an individual has a sensitive immune system they can experience complications or additional symptoms when ingesting kefir. Also: yogurt and buttermilk are not contraindicated for pregnant women, or different medical conditions, unlike kefir.
4. Also is it good to use the yogurt making system with coconut milk (i.e. water blended with coconut flesh and strained) as well as with coconut water?
SVA recommends making the coconut yogurt only with the coconut water. Coconut is also considered a heavy fruit, in that it needs proper metabolic fire. When you make yogurt out of its flesh it becomes too heavy for most individuals to be able to consume without making some ama out of it. But just using the coconut water is good. You get the health benefits of the coconut without the clogging properties of the physical coconut flesh.
More info and discussions on health benefits of kefir, raw milk and coconut water kefir: