Study: Raw Milk Can Reduce Asthma and Allergies

drinking raw milk

Story at-a-glance

  • Children who drank raw milk had a 30 percent lower risk of respiratory infections and fever
  • School-aged children who drank raw milk were 41 percent less likely to develop asthma and about 50 percent less likely to develop hay fever
  • Bill AB697, which would allow consumers to purchase raw milk directly from a farm, has been introduced in Wisconsin


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

By Dr. Mercola

Breastfeeding is known to be protective against respiratory infections among infants in early life, so researchers with Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, Germany decided to test whether another type of milk, cow’s milk, might also be protective.

Nearly 1,000 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland were followed for the first year of life, and their consumption of different types of cow’s milk was analyzed, along with rates of common respiratory infections.

Children who drank raw milk had a 30 percent lower risk of respiratory infections and fever compared to those who did not.1

Milk that was boiled at the farm had a diminished protective effect, and milk that was ultra-pasteurized, which is heated to about 135°C (275°F) for a few seconds, showed no protective effect, likely because the protective compounds are being killed off or otherwise damaged by the heat processing.

Study author Georg Loss, Ph.D., epidemiology, told Science Daily, “Compounds that are sensitive to heating seem to play a particularly important role in protection against respiratory-tract and ear infections.”2

Raw Milk May Reduce the Risk of Infection, Fever and Inflammation in Infants

Multiple benefits were seen among the infants consuming raw milk. Loss explained:3

“Among children who were fed on fresh, unprocessed cow's milk the incidence of head colds and other respiratory infections, febrile and middle-ear inflammation was found to be significantly lower than in the group whose milk ration consisted of the commercially processed ultra-pasteurized product.”

The researchers further concluded that the public health impact of minimally processed raw milk might be “enormous, given the high prevalence of respiratory infections in the first year of life and the associated direct and indirect costs.”4 It’s not the first time raw milk has shown a benefit to children.

The PARSIFAL study, published in 2007, also found the consumption of raw milk was inversely associated with asthma and “may offer protection against asthma and allergy.”5 That study involved data from 15,000 children.

The GABRIELA study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2011, included data from 8,000 children.

It found school-aged children who drank raw milk were 41 percent less likely to develop asthma and about 50 percent less likely to develop hay fever than children who drank store-bought (pasteurized) milk.6

Whey Protein in Raw Milk May Offer Protection Against Asthma

The GABRIELA study noted that the protective effect of raw milk consumption on asthma might be associated with the whey protein fraction of milk. According to Mark McAfee, the founder of Organic Pastures Dairy:

"… [T]wo huge studies were done in Europe — the PARSIFAL study done in 2006, studying 15,000 kids, and the GABRIELA study done in Basel, Switzerland.

Peer reviewed, internationally published, wonderful documentation showing that whey protein in raw milk stabilizes mast cells and actually makes asthma get a lot better, and in some cases, completely gone.

What we have is this polarity, these polar opposites between pasteurized milk, which has lots of dead bacteria … which actually trigger inflammation in your body because your body doesn't recognize these waste products …

Your body then reacts by mast cells breaking open, histamines being released, and things like asthma and inflammation flaring like crazy; mucus being laid down, which causes ear infections.

Raw milk does exactly the opposite … [T]he milk is alive [with beneficial] bacteria and your body recognizes it … [These beneficial bacteria] colonize and become part of your immune system."

Demand for Raw Milk Is Surging

Interstate sales or distribution of raw milk is illegal in the U.S. because of the U.S. Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, which requires milk crossing state lines to be pasteurized. While Congress has never outright banned raw milk, it's the only food banned from interstate commerce.

This makes it challenging for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines.  As noted by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:7

Raw milk laws are a hodgepodge in this country; due mainly to the federal ban on raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce, the laws are different state to state.”

While some states allow sales of raw milk in retail stores, others allow sales directly from the farm. Still others allow raw milk sales via herdshares, in which members of a co-op each purchase a share of the cow, or only when it’s sold as “pet milk.”

In other states, such as Iowa, Hawaii and Louisiana, the sale of raw milk is illegal. Despite these hurdles, demand for raw milk is surging. As noted by Food Dive:8

The reasons for the consistent demand increase for raw milk … are varied. Consumers report everything from fewer allergic reactions and a better taste to cures for a variety of illnesses …

Consumers also point out that raw milk tends to come from family farms rather than ‘factory farms,’ — the same problem major food manufacturers face.”

The dairy industry, which is dependent on pasteurization to kill pathogens in the milk produced by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), has long been a primary opponent of raw dairy.

Major milk producers are a primary lobby within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. food system revolves around money. What we have is not a "free market" but a massive collusion between government and big business, which is facilitated through lobbying.

Regulators often take their power and influence and join private lobbying firms in return for big paychecks, going from regulating an industry to working FOR that industry, and then back again, like a perpetually revolving door.

Laws are adopted behind a public interest veneer — such as protecting your health by restricting raw milk sales — but underneath they are products of negotiation between industry leaders and government officials to eliminate the competition and enhance their economic status.

The Coalition for Safe Milk Tries to Defeat Raw Milk Bill in Wisconsin

Perhaps no other state is as synonymous with milk as Wisconsin, “the Dairy State.” With a $43.4-billion dairy industry, Wisconsin also has the most to lose should small farmers selling raw milk steal away too many of Big Dairy’s customers.

Still, in December 2015, Rep. David Murphy, who grew up on a dairy farm, introduced legislation that would allow consumers to purchase raw milk directly from a farm in Wisconsin. Murphy told the Journal Sentinel:9

I have always been a supporter of people being able to buy raw milk ... to me, it's a matter of freedom of choice. It plays to my libertarian side … I think a lot of consumers would prefer to go to a farm that they trust and buy their milk.”

The bill, AB697, was assigned to the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, but will require legislative lobbyists to register their intent to either support or oppose the bill. The opponents are many, primarily those in the dairy industry.

To date, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products, Wisconsin Grocers Association and others in the dairy and health industries have voiced opposition to the bill.

The Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition, a group of dairy farmers, health professionals, public health officials, dairy processor groups and veterinarians, was also formed in an effort to keep raw milk from becoming legal in Wisconsin. The Coalition is among those voicing opposition to the AB697.

As of mid-January 2016, 15 Assembly Representatives and three Senators have signed on to co-sponsor the bill (the more co-sponsors the bill has, the better chance it has of making it through a floor vote in the Senate and Assembly).

If you’re a Wisconsin resident and you’d like to get involved, especially if you live in Assembly District 96 (Crawford, Vernon and Monroe counties), the Wisconsin Raw Milk Association is asking for your help to call Assembly Representative Lee Nerison, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, to request the scheduling of a public hearing on AB697.10

More Health Reasons to Drink Your Milk Raw

Many people should not consume dairy, as they are allergic to the milk proteins, whether it is raw or pasteurized. Additionally, many who are seeking to lose weight, or have high blood pressure or diabetes would likely be better avoiding milk as it contains the dairy sugar lactose.

However, if you are healthy and want to drink milk then it makes more sense to drink it raw, assuming it comes from a high-quality source. Pasteurized milk is often contaminated with agricultural chemicals, like glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.

This is because many dairy farmers feed their cows genetically engineered (GE) corn in lieu of their natural diet, grass. Their cornfields, in turn, are sprayed with Roundup. Raw milk, on the other hand, often comes from grass-fed cows, which is healthier from both purity and nutritional standpoints.

While pasteurized milk has few, if any, redeeming qualities besides being readily available at every convenience store, raw milk from grass-fed cows has a number of health benefits you simply will not obtain from drinking pasteurized and homogenized CAFO milk. For example, raw grass-fed milk is:

Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract High in omega-3 and low in omega-6, which is the beneficial ratio between these two essential fats
Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies). These enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, making pasteurized milk much harder to digest Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live Lactobacilli
Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and boosts metabolism Rich in healthy unoxidized cholesterol
Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible It also contains phosphatase, an enzyme that aids and assists in the absorption of calcium in your bones, and lipase enzyme, which helps to hydrolyze and absorb fats

Support Raw, Grass-Fed Milk Products

Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. They are far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, safer, too. While many believe that milk must be pasteurized before it can be safely consumed, it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for thousands of years before the invention of pasteurization.

It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk, specifically that from cows raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions, which is what you find in CAFOs. Your milk really needs to be pasture-raised, NOT pasteurized. Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk.

Their living conditions promote and maintain their health and optimize their milk in terms of the nutrients and beneficial bacteria it contains. The fight over raw milk stands as a symbol of the much larger fight for food freedom. If the FDA and other government agencies are allowed to impose their view of "safe food" on consumers, raw milk won't be the only thing lost — all food could potentially be pasteurized, irradiated, and genetically engineered.

The effort to reclaim your right to buy and consume raw milk is leading the way for everyone who wants to be able to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice. So please, get involved! Getting your raw milk and other food from a local organic farm or co-op is one of the best ways to ensure you're getting high-quality food.

You can locate a raw milk source near you at the Campaign for Real Milk Website. California residents can find raw milk retailers by using the store locator available at As with all foods, the source matters, and this is just as true with raw milk as any other food. If you’re interested in raw milk, here are tips for finding high-quality raw milk sources.


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