Author Julie Casper, L. Ac., is a hTMA clinician and educator, she works with patients across the U.S. and internationally. In addition, she supports health professionals who are interested in adding clinical hTMA to their practice. Contact:


Author: Julie Casper, L. Ac.

The problems associated with milk may outweigh the benefits of drinking it. However, carefully sourced, raw dairy and lacto-fermented products provide excellent nutritional benefits.

  1. Problem(s) with Cow Milk
  2. Calcium and Osteoporosis
  3. Screening for Calcium Status
  4. Pasteurized Milk Concerns
  5. Homogenization, Pasteurization and Vitamin Fortification in Commercial Processing
  6. Raw Milk
  7. Kefir
  8. Resources

We recommend against the consumption of any dairy product that comes from conventional, industrial, confinement dairies, or from dairies which produce milk intended for pasteurization. Also, whole fat milk provides the best nutritional benefit, low-fat or skim raw milk should not be consumed because butterfat contains important protective factors.

milk cow

Problem(s) with Cow Milk

Cow's milk is an amazing nourishing fluid that results from the hormonal activity associated with pregnancy and birth. It's natural purpose is to feed her calf until the age when she weans it.

Modern agri-business has capitalized on cow's milk using hybridization methods to create a hyper-hormonal animal that is essentially being pushed far past her natural biological limits. To get this result, an overactive anterior pituitary gland is required since this gland produces the lactogenic hormone responsible for milk production. It also produces the growth hormone. More hormones are put into the cow's grain-based feed (as well as antibiotics and other harmful additives). And because grain is not the food that that cow evolved to eat, it causes inflammatory reactions in the animal. The glysophate (Round-up®) residue found in commercial GMO grain destroys the animal's digestive system (this is true for any animal, even us).

Calcium and Osteoporosis

The dairy industry promotes the claim that increased calcium intake will help prevent osteoporosis, and recommends three glasses of milk per day. Osteoporosis affects over six million people in the U.S. and has probably become the most widely recognized condition associated with calcium deficiency. Calcium supplementation is generally accepted as a course of therapy for this condition. However, research shows that calcium supplementation alone over extended periods can result in decreased calcium retention, or has only minor benefits.

Calcium is found in every cell throughout the body, over 90 percent is stored in the bones and teeth. The osseous tissues of the body serve not only as structural support but also as a reservoir for calcium and other minerals. These minerals can be drawn upon by the body as the need arises.

It is probably not coincidental that the incidence of ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ has risen simultaneously with the increased fervor of calcium supplementation for the prevention of osteoporosis. David L. Watts, Ph.D., F.A.C.E.P.

Osteoporosis has a multitude of causes. And there are many nutritional factors (other than calcium deficiency) that can contribute to the osteoporotic process. Calcium supplementation can even contribute to osteoporosis in the presence of other mineral deficiencies, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. For example, magnesium is deposited on the surface of the bone, and if a person's magnesium status is marginal, then calcium supplementation can further contribute to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency will produce cortical thinning of the bone with resulting fragility. When the neuroendocrine factors are included, we find that over 30 different mechanisms can be involved in contributing to osteoporosis. This may explain why the etiology of osteoporosis is controversial.

In some cases the resulting bone loss of calcium may be a nonspecific, secondary response to a specific underlying metabolic problem. Parathyroid hormone aids in the physiological response of other hormones dependent upon calcium for their activity. Calcium affects a number of enzymes and mediates the action and release of several hormones. For instance, if an increased amount of insulin is required by the body, parathyroid activity will increase, resulting in calcium resorption. This in turn will supply extra calcium for the release of insulin as well as other hormones, demonstrating the need for treating the patient instead of the symptom. If the patient is developing adult onset diabetes, then the treatment of his or her osteoporotic condition will not meet with much success until the diabetic condition is addressed.

With vitamins and minerals, rarely does a single nutrient deficiency develop alone. Usually, other deficiencies co-exist. The same is true of endocrine disturbances. Overactivity or underactivity of a single endocrine gland rarely occurs. As an example, when overactivity of the parathyroid gland develops, associated low thyroid is usually found. Patients with hypothyroidism frequently have elevated parathyroid hormone levels. Increased thyroid activity apparently decreases parathyroid activity. Therefore, support of the thyroid gland is warranted in patients who develop osteoporosis with hyperparathyroid involvement. On the other hand, osteoporosis caused by hyperthyroidism, which usually accompanies increased adrenal activity, may improve with parathyroid support.

As with other minerals, calcium is best evaluated in relationship to its other cofactors, whether it is tested through urinary excretion studies, blood, or tissues. When the synergistic and antagonistic nutrients relative to calcium are taken into consideration, fewer conflicting and more fruitful results may be forthcoming with the nutritional treatment of calcium disorders, particularly osteoporosis. Improving overall health rather than treating a disease, or a single nutrient imbalance, may be more beneficial to those afflicted with osteoporosis. Fuller Albright, M.D., stated, "Osteoporosis is a decreased production of osteoid by the osteoblasts, and is a defect in tissue metabolism."

Screening for Calcium Status

Results from hTMA tests have demonstrated that osteoporosis can be found in patients with elevated levels of calcium and also in those with decreased levels. This has led to the typing of the different osteoporotic conditions (type I and type II).

Osteoporosis (Type I)
Type I is the type of osteoporosis associated with negative calcium balance due to low calcium intake, decreased absorption, or increased excretion. Elevated urinary calcium excretion is usually due to resorptive hypercalciuria (excess urinary calcium due to the breakdown of tissue such as bone and elimination via the urine).
Osteoporosis (Type II)
Type II is the type of osteoporosis associated with adequate calcium intake, decreased or normal excretion with metastic soft tissue calcification. If urinary calcium excretion is elevated, it is often due to absorptive hypercalciuria (excess urinary calcium due to increased absorption by the intestines).

Since minerals are both synergistic and antagonistic, relative excesses and deficiencies can readily be determined from the hTMA and patient history. Because the endocrine glands govern trace element metabolism and trace elements affect endocrine function, trace mineral patterns found in the hair can serve as an acceptable screening tool for determining body mineral ratio stores and endocrine status.

For example, elevated tissue sodium and potassium relative to low calcium and magnesium suggests increased cellular retention of sodium and potassium as a result of increased adrenal function. Increased epinephrine levels will produce cellular potassium retention, which is mediated by Na+/K+-ATPase, which pumps sodium out of cells, while pumping potassium into cells. Sodium retention occurs as a result of increased adrenal cortical production of aldosterone due to increased potassium retention. Elevated glucocorticoids and aldosterone both increase calcium and magnesium excretion. Excessive aldosterone secretion is known to induce magnesium loss, but it is also possible that a magnesium deficiency will promote aldosterone production. This is due to the hyperplasia that develops in the adrenal zona glomerulosa in the presence of magnesium deficiency. Increased thyroid activity also promotes magnesium and calcium loss due to the synergistic, reciprocal relationship between the thyroid and adrenal glands. The adrenal steroids, particularly glucocorticoids, antagonize the effects of parathyroid hormone.

Understanding of the importance of ideal calcium levels, and ideal levels of the interacting minerals is very helpful in determining whether calcium-rich foods will benefit a particular individual.

Pasteurized Milk Concerns

Pasteurization allows commercial dairy operations to sell milk from diseased cows, because pasteurizing kills harmful bacteria. It's integration was made possible by large-scale, well funded lobbying efforts. One problem with this is that milk is a living food, and pasteurization damages the bio-availability of calcium and protein. It also destroys most of the omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients. As a consequence these commercially processed milk products often cause allergic reactions for susceptible individuals. When you set pasteurized milk out on your counter, it quickly goes rancid. In contrast, clean raw milk begins to ferment and turns into healthy, edible curds and whey.

Pasteurized milk is difficult to digest. Pasteurization destroys lactase in the milk. Lactase is an enzyme in the small intestine that is essential to the complete digestion of whole milk. Lactase breaks down lactose, a sugar which gives milk its sweetness. People who lack lactase often experience digestion problems when drinking milk (a common symptom of lactose intolerance).

Homogenization, Pasteurization and Vitamin Fortification in Commercial Processing

Most commercial milk is intensively processed. This industrial processing alters the natural qualities of whole milk. Often, milk is "fortified" with synthentic vitamins A and D. Most people are unaware that vitamin D3 is not a vitamin, but a hormone precursor. It iniates the hormone release in the body that causes vitamin D to be released into serum. Vitamin D is naturally produced in the body as needed if you get enough sun and eat a nutrient-rich diet. Vitamin D supplementation is contraindicated for most patients we see clinically due to calcium and potassium imbalances.

Pasteurization is a heating process used to kill the harmful bacteria found in the milk harvested in industrial dairy operations. Homogenization usually follows pasteurization because the enzyme lipase, if not first heat deactivated, can begin digesting the ruptured fat globules, leading to rancidity in the milk.

Homogenization is the term for emulsifying fat with a mechanical process that breaks the fat globules into smaller droplets so that they stay suspended in the milk rather than separating out and floating to the top of the container. Homogenization is usually a two step process. The first stage pushes milk through small, tapered tubes or pores. The diameter shrinks but the flow of milk remains constant, so pressure builds up and fat globules break apart in the turbulence. The higher the pressure, the smaller the particles. Typically the pressure is 2,000-3,000 pounds per square inch (psi), although some super homogenizers work at over 1000 times atmospheric pressure- 14,500psi and higher.

Before homogenization, fat globules range in size from 1-10 microns (a micron = ~0.00004 inch). After, the size range is reduced to 0.2-2 microns. As the much smaller fat globules begin to reassemble, they include fragments of whey and casein in their walls. Some are completely surrounded by a layer of protein. The tendency is for these new, chemically altered globules to clump together. Stage two of the homogenization process breaks up this unwanted assembly and makes sure everything stays in solution.

Some researchers believe that these protein-heavy fat globules can potentially increase homogenized milk's ability to cause allergic reactions. Numerous studies confirm this, at least with rodents as test subjects. Other known effects on milk quality include increased viscosity (the milk is thickened in consistency) whiter appearance, lowered heat stability, increased sensitivity to light-triggered oxidation and less pronounced milk flavor. Because of the incredibly high pressures to which milk is now being subjected, very high heat is generated, resulting in what is, effectively, a second pasteurization process.

Raw Milk

Raw milk contains lactase that can help to repopulate the gut flora, improving digestion. Safety concerns around harmful bacteria in raw milk are valid. Raw milk should only be purchased from dairies that follow strict health and safty practices and test their milk regularly for bacterial content. If you can find a reputable source for high-quality raw milk from pasture raised, grass fed cows, a small amount of milk is okay. However, if you can find raw goat milk that would be preferable. Goat milk is a better human food than cow milk because the balance of fat to protein is more appropriate, it is naturally homogenized (fat doesn't separate like milk) so the fat is easier to digest — and it is lower in sugar. Raw, non-pasturized dairy products from pastured, grass-fed animals including plain kefir (unsweetened), full-fat plain yogurt (unsweetened), cottage cheese, and cheese provide excellent nutritional benefits.


An excellent way to improve the nutritional qualities of milk is to make your own kefir. It's easy, fun, and inexpensive.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that you can easily make yourself. The word kefir is said to have originated from the Turkish word "Kefir" which means good feeling. Kefir dates back many centuries to the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains who carried milk stored in leather pouches where it would ferment into fizzy sour yoghurt.

kefir seeds

Kefir grains. Kefir is something you can make at home, no fancy equipment is needed. All you need is a glass jar, a source of good milk, and some real kefir grains. Real kefir grains never need to be reordered. With proper care they last forever. You can even share them with friends and family — because they are alive and always growing!

Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (1845 – 1916), a Nobel-prize winning biologist at the Pasteur Institute, first suggested that lactobacilli might counteract the putrefactive effects of gastrointestinal metabolism in 1908. He attributed the long and healthy life of the people of the Caucasus Mountains to their consumption of soured milk. There is increasing interest and research into probiotics and the health promoting properties of fermented milks like kefir.

In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are important minerals for a healthy nervous system. Kefir in the diet can have a calming effect.

Kefir's ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.

Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body's assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.

Kefir Resources


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