Milk, in general is considered cooling, nutritive, strengthening and vitalizing. The properties of the milk of various animals are described in great detail by Sanskrit writers. Some of them are as follows:
Cow’s milk is pleasant to take and very wholesome. It promotes memory, strength and longevity and increases the secretion of semen.
Buffalo’s milk is said to be sweeter, heavier and more cooling than cow’s milk. It induces sleepiness, spoils the appetite and brings on cold.
Goat’s milk is sweet, cooling and astringent. It promotes the digestive power and is useful in haemorrhagic diseases, phthisis, bowel complaints, etc.
Ewe’s milk is salty, disagreeable and not easily digested.
Mare’s milk is salty, acidulous and easily digested.
Ass’s milk is salty, easily digested and useful in debility and urinary complaints.
Camel’s milk is light, sweet, salty, laxative and useful in dropsical affections.
Human milk is light, cooling, nutritive, strengthening and useful as a collyrium or wash in eye diseases.
All milk except human milk should be taken boiled.
Benefits of Milk and its Products
Milk is considered demulcent, laxative, and especially adapted for children, old men, consumptive people or those reduced by debauchery, for women who are suckling and for patients suffering from chronic fever, mental diseases, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, urinary complaints, ascites and anasarca. A pure milk-diet is often prescribed in the later stages of anasarca, ascites and chronic bowel complaints.
Dose of Milk and its Products in Medicine
Along with milk diet, some sort of medicine, such as Dugdhavati, Svrnaparpati or Manamanda, is usually prescribed. Milk and its products used as medicine are as follows:
Takra or butter-milk: Four sorts of butter-milk are described, namely ghola or pure butter-milk without admixture of water, takra or butter-milk with one-fourth part of water, udasi or that mixed with half its bulk of water, and chhachchhika or very dilute butter-milk. The second form called takra is used in medicine and as an article of sick diet. It is regarded as astringent, light, cooling, appetizing, nutritive, tonic, and useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, dyspepsia, urinary diseases, ascites, poisoning, etc. It is not suited to the weak or consumptive, or to those suffering from fever and nervousness. The habitual use of butter-milk is said to be conducive to health and a preservative against disease.
Dadhi or curd is prepared by adding some acid or a little curdled milk as a ferment to milk previously boiled. It is considered agreeable, digestive and cooling, and is much used as an article of diet by all classes of natives. Taken to excess it causes biliousness and catarrh. It is useful in fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, urinary disorders and disinclination for food.
Mastu or whey is said to have properties similar to those of curdled milk. In particular it is said to favour the circulation of the animal fluids and to be useful in constipation.
Kilataka or curd of milk (Chhena in Bengali) is hard for digestion, but is nourishing, tonic and suited to persons with strong digestive powers.
Santanika or cream is also hard for digestion but nourishing, agreeable and demulcent.
Navanita or butter is tonic, astringent, invigorating, stomachic and useful in phthisis, piles, facial paralysis, etc. It suites best to the old and young.
Ghrita or clarified butter is much used both as an article of diet and in pharmacy. Clarified butter obtained from cow’s milk is considered superior to that prepared from the milk of the buffalo and is preferred for medicinal use. Clarified butter is considered cooling, emollient and stomachic. It increases the fatty tissues and mental powers, improves the voice, beauty and complexion and is useful in eye diseases, retained secretions, insanity, tympanites, painful dyspepsia, ulcers, wounds, etc. Purana ghrita or old clarified butter is used externally. It is regarded as cooling and emollient and is much used in nervous diseases such as insanity, epilepsy, neuralgia, paralysis, cephalalgia and asthma, in rheumatic affections, stiff joints, burning of the body, hands or feet, affections of the eyes, etc.