Medical Theory

and Dairy Foods


  The ancient physicians who practiced traditional

Chinese medicine arrived at some startling

conclusions early  in the history of Chinese

medicine.  It was common practice for the

ancient physicians to travel from hamlet to

hamlet seeking patients.  They often packed

their needles and herbs and would treat patients

from a wide geographical area. 

  The ancient physicians were seeking to understand the etiology of the illnesses they observed.  In most cases their understanding of anatomy and physiology was inadequate to explain many of the disease processes we still struggle with.  On other hand, these physicians were astute observers.  As they traveled from one area to another they made correlations between the location of their patients and the type of illness they would expect to see.  For example those people living down by the shore or in swampy areas suffer from one type of illness while those living up in the mountain tops had other complaints. 

  The ancient physicians were also looking for correlations between dietary choices and disease processes.  The evidence that they gathered and the conclusions that they reached had a profound impact on Asian society as a whole. 

  One of the most striking correlations that we find in classical medical texts is the strong link made between dairy consumption and what the ancient Chinese physicians called phlegm.  We need to discuss the idea of phlegm in more detail in order to understand the implications for ourselves.  We tend to think of phlegm as the material secreted from the mucosal membranes located in our sinus cavities.  Phlegm is associated with sinus congestion, sneezing and headaches.  Phlegm can also affect the lungs.  This manifests as bronchitis or asthma.  It is still common practice for modern practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to inform patients with sinus conditions to forgo the consumption of dairy foods.  This approach is successful.  Many patients find that the consumption of dairy foods aggravates their upper respiratory conditions. 

  The ancient Chinese physicians did not understand the complete etiology of autoimmune disease but noticed a correlation between higher rates of incidence and dietary habits.  So the assumption was made that dairy foods cause phlegm to be created in the body.  The traditional medical literature describes other diseases of phlegm.  These are illnesses that were linked with dairy consumption.  Because the source of the problem was considered to be dairy, the manifestation of that problem was assumed to be phlegm even when the condition did not involved sinus congestion.  Phlegm, it was explained can manifest in various ways.

  The Chinese described a syndrome called phlegm nodules.  This condition manifests as painful bumps that grow on the joints.  The process of this disease involves pain, restricted range of motion, swelling redness and eventual debility. Lumps would appear on the knuckles or the knees as well as in other places.  Since the population that suffered from this condition was the same population that suffered from other phlegm based diseases this manifestation was linked to phlegm.  We believe that the ancient physicians were describing arthritis.  Almost 2000 years ago, in the bronze age of China the physicians of the day discovered a correlation between dairy consumption and arthritis.  Phlegm nodules represent a deeper, more serious phlegm condition than sinus congestion.  Phlegm nodules tend to spread to different areas of the body affecting many of the joints.  Because the etiology of the disease resulted from dairy, it was described as phlegm.  With or without the benefit of modern medicine this disease often results in complete disability.  Arthritis is a condition endemic in our culture.  A great number of people suffer from pain and debility on a daily basis as a result.  In the East, where dairy products are not routinely consumed, arthritis statistics tell a different story.

  Another more ominous condition was also described in great detail in ancient medical texts.  This is disease was termed toxic phlegm nodules.  Toxic phlegm nodules appear in the breasts of women or in between the legs of men.  Toxic phlegm nodules can grow quickly, spread across the breasts into other parts of the body causing death.  The description of toxic phlegm nodules exactly matches the pattern of breast cancer.  Again, because the etiology of the disease was assumed to be associated with the consumption of dairy foods, the the disease itself was described as phlegm even though it was really cancer.  2000 years ago, breast and prostate cancer was linked to the consumption of dairy foods. 

  As a result of these correlations, dairy foods were not encouraged in Asian cuisine.  If one visits an Asian restaurant, no dairy foods appear on the menu.  As a culture the Asians decided that dairy foods were unhealthful.  The same assumption was never made in the West.  We are constantly lectured as to the benefits of dairy consumption.  Any serious scientific investigation into the effects of dairy foods on human beings shows troubling conclusions.  I am unable to explain why we suffer from such wide spread and completely wrong assumptions.  Certainly, the industry has spent large sums of money in order to implant the concept that their products promote health but nothing could be further from the truth.

  The most startling evidence concerning the harmful effects of dairy consumption are found in modern epidemiological research.  This is the study of tens of thousands of people living in very different geographical locations, consuming very different types of foods.  We see that the rate of autoimmune disease is not consistent throughout the population of the planet.  Some societies suffer at much higher rates than others.  Multiple sclerosis, lupus, type II diabetes, eczema/psoriasis, arthritis, thyroid disease, colitis and many other manifestations of autoimmune disease tend to appear with greater frequency among certain societies.  The same is true for degenerative disease.  Cholesterol, blood pressure, high blood sugar and arteriosclerosis are all associated with the consumption of animal proteins.  These degenerative processes result in higher rates of stroke, diabetes, kidney and eye disease as well as Alzheimer's .  This is quite a list of things to avoid. 

  Probably the most frightening manifestation of risk associated with dairy consumption is the very high rate of breast and prostate cancer from which we suffer.  Nothing frightens us more than cancer.  There is nothing we wish to avoid more.  We have lost so many good people.  Almost every family has been touched.  Some rather well crafted studies, taking into account the genetic predisposition for cancer found that animal protein consumers could be more than 800% more likely to contract breast cancer than those who eat plant based foods. 

  Osteoporosis the disease of thinning bones, is not caused by a deficiency of calcium in the diet.  The acidic byproducts of protein metabolism encourage the use of calcium as a buffer.  The body does not wish to allow an acidic molecule to circulate freely in the system.  The acidic qualities damage adjacent cells and tissues.  Calcium is the body's most available alkaline substance.  The body attaches calcium to the acidic byproduct of protein metabolism so that it may safely be transported through the bloodstream and captured by the kidney.  The kidney is supposed to remove the calcium molecule and actively transport it back to the storehouse which is the bone.  With excessive consumption of protein, this process becomes backed up.  Small bits of calcium remain in the kidney creating a silt.  If several molecules of calcium stick together, stones can form.  Researchers commonly measure calcium in the urine of those patients who consumed excessive amounts of protein.  Calcium is a nutrient that is difficult to absorb.  Calcium is a nutrient that must be in the right place.  The body will not allow the absorption of excessive amounts of calcium.  Only medications can force the body to absorb more calcium that it's designed to. 

  Consuming more calcium in the form of dairy foods will not prevent osteoporosis despite assurances from the industry.  The consumption of dairy products is associated with the loss of calcium that results in osteoporosis.  Some of the poorest women living on the planet consume no dairy foods.  If they survive famine, wars and poverty their bones will retain their calcium.  Any human being that consumes excessive amounts of protein will find it impossible to maintain their bone structure without modern pharmaceutical intervention.  Increasing the consumption of calcium will not alleviate the process of osteoporosis.

  Is important to note that the correlations drawn between dairy consumption and the promotion of disease was first noted during the bronze age.  At this time no chemicals had been isolated.  No hormones had been fed to the cows.  The dairy foods consumed by the ancient peoples described above, were completely organic.  Even the food the cows ate was completely clear of all chemical contamination.  No air pollution or water pollution existed at that time.  No chemicals medications had even been invented yet.  The myriad of health problems associated with the consumption of dairy foods derives from the naturally occurring proteins, fat and sugar contained within those foods.  This means that consuming organic dairy foods is not safer than conventionally produced products.  The combination of traditional wisdom and modern research supports these conclusions.  The evidence is incontrovertible.  The promises made by the industry are not based on such solid evidence.