Does Milk Cause Mucus?

Dairy and Phlegm

Allright, if you’re not grossed out by the title of this post you are probably a fellow sufferer of a condition I’ve dealt with my entire adult life. What’s that you ask? Excess phlegm production … yuck! You’ve most likely been on the receiving end of the most frequently heard advice for those with chronic runny noses, sneezing and coughing … never drink milk or eat any dairy products. This well-meaning advice comes from many alternative medical practitioners, your sister-in-law’s personal trainer, the guy in the cubicle next to you and your kids :-). So it passes for common sense in many circles, it is so widely known. And I did try it for a good long while. My personal experience has been the exact opposite though … adding raw dairy to my diet relieved me of 90% of my troubles with sneezing, coughing and phlegm just in general. And I think it can help you too!

What Happened When I Removed Dairy from my Diet

For years I’ve had trouble with sniffles, sneezing and coughing in addition to my asthmatic wheezing. For me the sniffles started in middle school and I was promptly put on a years worth of allergy shots. Didn’t help. Then came the antihistamines … didn’t help. By the time I was twenty my sinuses were basically swollen shut most of the time. Had not one but two sinus surgeries … didn’t help. So I took matters into my own hands and read every book I could get on alternative health and diets. I decided a vegetarian diet was the way to go. I learned from these books that dairy frequently causes excess mucus. I thought, so here’s my problem! It also helped convince me that I had an anxiety reaction when I had milk. So I went without dairy for about 3 years … didn’t help. I could go on about the things I’ve tried, but it’s such a long list that I’ll have to save it for about another 10 other posts ;-).

So what did help?

Two things really, raw unpasteurized milk and celtic sea salt.

Right after I discovered Nourishing Traditions one of the first things I did was switch our household salt from Morton salt to Celtic Sea Salt. We were having an exceptionally hot summer and I was drinking a ton of water. And my mucus/sneezing condition got much worse than normal. Normally, I might have sneezed for about a half hour every morning with a few sneezes every hour accompanied by a runny nose. This was far, far worse. I was now spending HOURS every day sneezing. I was having trouble getting things done I sneezed so much! It just so happens that I read a little reminder that your salt intake needs to keep up with your water intake, so a pinch of salt for each glass of water. I started eating a pinch of salt off-and-on throughout the day. This helped keep the sneezing fits somewhat under control.

Next, I found a farmer nearby selling raw milk! I was so excited to try it … we had kept goats and milked them for a few years, but since we weren’t very methodical about it we didn’t get any sizable quantity of milk. Now we bought many gallons of whole, raw milk. We chugged it morning, noon and night for months. And almost immediately the sneezing fits that had plagued me for years went away completely. The runny nose that had forced me to carry around handfuls of tissues everywhere I went was greatly reduced. And that from that much demonized milk!

Would this work for you too?

Raw milk was a great help to me, as you can see. But note that it was raw milk that helped me, not pasteurized milk from the store. It’s entirely possible that pasteurization is the source of the mucus myth and not the milk itself. Many people who are intolerant of pasteurized milk and cheese can eat raw milk and cheese without any problem. This was true for me definitely. In my early 20′s I was very sensitive to milk with all the typical symptoms of digestive troubles along with high anxiety after having some, no matter how small the portion. I grew to where I feared milk and I replaced it in my diet with rice milk. But mostly I just stopped having it. Now I drink about a quart of raw milk each day along with a good helping of raw high quality cheese without problems.

I don’t doubt that there are many people who have true allergies to milk and certainly a switch to raw won’t help them. But there are many with a simple intolerance to dairy and I’d like to encourage those folks to give raw milk a try and see if it is of benefit to them. I hate to see those with a problem with pasteurized milk bypass this most excellent nutrient dense food when it’s possible that pasteurization is the true source of the trouble. The only way to know for sure is to try it out for yourself. Of course, if your reaction to milk is very severe or serious, like anaphylactic serious, a trial run seems ill-advised.

How Does Pasteurization Encourage Allergy and Mucus?

In pasteurization milk is heated to one degree or another. This can vary by quite a bit but most grocery store milk is heated to the higher end of the scale. What this does is cause damage and distoration in the proteins in the milk. Your immune system then reacts to these proteins it cannot identify. Livestrong sums it up pretty well with:

This heating process can cause milk proteins to change shape, which inhibits their absorption through the small intestine and causes them to be absorbed instead by Peyer’s patches in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby inducing allergies through a cascade of molecular events.

So your immune system overreacts to what it sees as foreign invaders, leading to inflammation and your bodies response to help protect your tissues and sooth that inflammation: mucus.

What Would Granny Say?

Here on Granny’s Vital Vittles we always want to consider Granny’s point of view on drinking milk. Just what would she say about the controversy over whether or not milk causes mucus?

She would tell us all to quit being so silly and get back to doing something useful :-)! People have drank raw milk since the beginning of recorded time and they were not coughing, sneezing, snotty-nosed wrecks! That would be proof enough to satisfy her.

Am I Completely Cured?

Basically, no. But I am so greatly improved that my quality of life has risen markedly. No more sneezing fits, no more sniffling and wiping my nose in meetings with relative strangers, no more severe sinus headaches from all the congestion. I do still have some sinus congestion along with my asthma, but no more sinus infections! How long I have longed for just that! Raw milk has been great medicine for me, sweet delicious medicine that I can no longer go a day without missing.

The Untold Story of Milk

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This post is shared at Homestead Barn Hop, Thank Goodness it’s Monday, Sunday School, Weekend Gourmet, Fat Tuesday, Make Your Own Monday, Party Wave Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday and Fight Back Friday.

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lives just outside of Austin with her husband of 20 years Barry, youngest son Jake, three cats and about a dozen chickens. She has another older son and a beautiful daughter-in-law who live in Austin. While not a Grandma yet, with two grown kids she remains hopeful. Kathy wants a world where everyone has fresh wholesome food and feels that cookin' like a granny woman is the surest way to get there.


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Granny LOVES a great discussion! A thoughtful, in-depth look from all angles benefits us all. If you disagree let us know! But please remember you're in Granny's house and be respectful of that. If you wouldn't say it in your Grandma's hearing please don't say it here! No name-calling or foul language. Those comments that don't respect Granny's home will be deleted.

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