Ahara Niyama : The Value of Desi A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda

One of the recommendations we make to improve hair and skin health is to include good quality, desi A2 Cow’s milk in the daily diet. This is an ayurvedic ahara (diet) recommendation which helps improve ojas, tejas, build good dhatu and improves the health and nutrient availability in the body.

Regular drinking of desi A2 Cow's milk is recommended in Ayurveda for health and vitality

However, there is a lot of confusion and issues linked with Dairy sourcing in India today. For one, what we freely get in India is processed, homogenized, pasteurized mixed milk which is predominantly A1. There is also a rise in the vegan movement where dairy consumption is rejected on environment, animal rights and health reasons. Also, many of us, have gotten used to drinking tea and coffee and have given up almost completely on milk.

So we wanted to write a detailed article addressing these issues, and also explain the many benefits behind drinking desi A2 Cow’s milk. This article expands on a shorter post already shared on the Krya Product Support Community on the same topic.

Isn’t Dairy bad and cruel?

A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda (Go Ksheera from a native cow) is considered an elixir. Obviously at the time the texts were written, there was no need to make a distinction between A2 and A1 and we ONLY had A2 cows in India. A1 Cows are a very recent addition (of about 50 years vintage) to Indian dairy farms.

The adoption of foreign breeds into India dairy farming is a new practice

Today we see a huge backlash against Dairy, some of it legitimately so. We are seeing disease condition of epic proportions and are handling certain forms of auto immune disorders, chronic skin conditions, allergic and respiratory conditions and cancers of various kinds. Desperate for answers and solutions, we latch onto every new theory / opinion that tries and explain the spread of such disease conditions.

There are 2 unfortunate reasons that Dairy, especially commercial dairy has taken such a huge backlash around the world:

One is the rise of commercial dairy farming with epic proportions of animal cruelty, all designed to treat the Cow as a machine and literally milk her to her death, shortening her Life span and treating male calves as fodder to the leather and meat industry in the bargain.

Commercial dairy farming is cruel and unethical

The second reason is linked to the first. Because of the huge , single minded focus on Milk , and Milk alone of a particular variety with a certain amount of Fat, India has joined the world of commercial dairy farming by exporting ad nauseum Jersey / Holstein breed cows that give higher fat, A1 milk .
Comemrecial dairy farming promotes A1 cow breeds over native A2 breeds

In the process, we have carefully ruined our indigenous dairy genetic strain and almost sounded the death knell for what Ayurveda terms as “ojas improving, dhatu improving and prana extending” – A2 milk.
Desi A2 cow breeds have been neglected in commercial dairy farming

Cow as Gau Mata – unique status in Indian Ayurveda, Krishi vigyan (agricultural science)

The Cow is revered and respected as “Gau mata” in the Indic civilization. This reverence extends beyond India to other lands where the civilization has reached like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, etc This high status comes not just from the way the Cow is revered in India’s temples, Agama, Puranas, iconography, etc, although the extent of the Cow’s reverence in these systems should be seen to believed.

Cow is richly revered in Indic civilisation

But, this particular status of the cow comes from the value of what the cow offers not just from her udder, but also the “Mala” she secretes, namely the Cow Dung and Cow Urine (Gau mutra). Gau gobar (Cow dunk) and Gau mutra are extensively used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Krishi vigyan (agricultural science in India).

Cow dung and Cow Urine are important by products that are used in traditional medicine and agriculture

Go-bar (cow dung) is used in ritual purification, in homas and yagnas, and also to purify various kinds of Rasa (metals), minerals and poisonous herbs.

Gau mutra is also used in Shodana of certain Metals and Minerals. Treated cow urine is a very powerful “drug of choice” in certain aggravated disease conditions like kidney disorder, splenomegaly , certain kinds of cancers etc. Skeptics notwithstanding, there are very powerful testimonies to how well these therapies worked, when undertaken in the right Ayurvedic method.

In Krishi vigyan, Go-bar and Gau mutra are invaluable to a farm. This is why in Indian traditional systems the value of  a cow cannot be economically measured simply by the milk she produces. In fact, the Urine and Dung are of far greater value in a farm helping give good quality produce, arrest the growth of unwanted weeds, keeping down predatory population of insects that can destroy the crop, etc.

Cow is indispensable to healthy soil

Today, the Indian organic agriculture movement has access to ONE such formulation: Panchagavya – made from the 5 by products of a cow – gobar, gaumutra, milk, curd and ghee, . Virkshayurveda as a science is as old as Ayurveda – the texts talk of numerous such formulations that are designed scientifically on Ayurvedic principles to improve crop yield, nurture soil, keep down predatory insects and animals, improve quality of produce, etc.

And Gaumutra and Gobar is integral to many of these traditional farming practices and concepts.

We can go as far as to say that the Indian Cow is integral to many aspects of our health and well being, according to traditional wisdom. There is nothing better than cow dung and cow urine for improving soil, produce and yield. Cow dun and Cow urine are integral to Ayurvedic science both directly and indirectly to either enhance the qualities of the herbs, metals and minerals we work with or consumed as a drug.

Similarly, the direct fruits of a Cow, i.e Cow’s Milk , and by products made from it like Ghee, Butter, Buttermilk, and in some cases Curd are all considered Elixers. Cow Ghee is and should be an integral part of every Indian’s diet.

So for this wide reaching improving effect the Cow has on every sphere of our food, health, harmony and well being, she is rightly called Gau Mata – the Mother of us all. In fact , the Mother of all Mothers.

Gau Mata - the mother of All Mothers

Ayurveda analyses all Milk, not just A2 Cow’s milk:

The Ayurvedic Nighantus and Samhitas are extremely detailed and deep. So it should come as no surprise that the Acharyas have analysed the properties of different kinds of milks – both from animals and human beings and have given us when each of these can be consumed.

Not content with this, they have also analysed the qualities of the by products of these Milks like ghee – so the texts lay out in detail the qualities of ghee made from human breast milk, from sheep milk., from camel milk, etc , and finally from A2 Cow’s milk.

The qualities of each of these milks differ according to the basic nature of the animal, the gunas and mano gunas within the animal, where the animal is found, and finally, how the animal is treated and how these products are extracted and processed.

Properties of Go Ksheera (A2 Cow’s milk) according to Ayurveda:

Ashtanga Hridayam calls “Go Ksheera” (cows milk) “ Jeevaniya” (restores life /jeeva), and “Rasayana” (regenerative / anti aging). It is extremely useful in “Kshatksheena” or conditions of emaciation and extreme injury to slowly build and restore strength.

Kshatakhseena is a condition that is no existent among most of us today – it refers to emaciation caused by injury on the battle field. Today, this is probably applicable to soldiers and those in the defense cadre and also to those of us recovering from illness and long stays in a hospital.

Cow's milk is indispensable to recover health, vitality and strength

Apart from this, A2 Cow’s milk is referred to as improving “Medhya” or intellect, improving “Balya” or strength. It is a galactalogue and is also considered a dravya that is slightly laxative in nature (sara).

A2 Cow’s milk relieves “shrama” (fatigue), “bhrama” (giddiness), “mada” (intoxication), svasa (asthma /breathing / respiratory disorders), “kasa” (cough based disorder), trishna (excessive thirst). Ksut (excessive hunger), jeerna jwara (fevers brought on by indigestion / toxin buildup), “Mutrakrucha” (painful urination / dysuria), vitiated disorder of Rakta + Pitta (anemia, bleeding and circulatory disorders, etc).

Most importantly Milk is considered both Mangalyam and as a remover of “Alakshmi”. This explains its deep significance in auspicious events like going to a new home, during festivals like Lohri, Pongal, etc.

Personally, I have experienced both of these qualities first hand: the Mangalyam brought in by Milk and the “Alakshmi” brought in by rejecting Milk.

A2 Cow’s milk – benefits for Women, Men and Children

Go Ksheera is an elixir for Women as it pacifies Rakta, Pitta and Vata aggravated disorders. women are very sensitive to disorders of both Rakta and Vata . One Rakta disorder that many Indian women have is anemia and post partum women and working women are very affected by aggravated Vata dosha.

A2 cow's milk is an indispensable nutritional supplement for Indian women.

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu says that those who are weak, emaciated, suffer from chronic jwaras (malaria, dengue, chikungunya), emaciation are advised to have Milk. It is especially suitable for those who suffer from vata disorders like vertigo, anxiety, spasms, and pitta disorders like anemia, burning sensation, excessive thirst.

For women suffering from infertility / reproductive issues, , UTI, vaginal discharge, etc , Cows Milk is ideal. Women who suffer from repeated miscarriages are much benefited by daily consumption of Milk.

Also children, old people, those who suffer from “Kshata-kshina” (translated as emaciation and fatigue due to battle – in today’s context overwork) are suitable candidates for Milk drinking.

Sexually active adults are also advised to drink Milk regularly. Reproductive tissue like ova , semen are considered the very last dhatu to be formed in the body by Ayurveda, just before Ojas. So when we are sexually active, there is a chance that we lose vital dhatus in the body, especially Men. So a common practice suggested in Ayurveda is regular Milk drinking in sexually active adults to continually re-charge the body and ensure vital energy is not depleted.

Self care through Ahara: How to prepare and drink A2 Cow’s milk everyday

The simplest, and easiest and most potent form of self care you can do for yourself is to drink a glass of good quality A2 Cow’s milk every morning.

The Ayurvedic Samhitas give us some rules for preparing and consuming Milk:

  • GoKsheera must be freshly boiled, preferably within 4 – 5 hours of Milking. Once boiled it should not be heated / re-boiled in any way as the samhitas tell us that this enhances its kapha and mucous clogging properties.

A2 milk to be drunk freshly boiled

    • Many of us in India consume pasteurized milk which we re-boil at home. So we are re-boiling already “cooked” milk. As per this rule, we are all automatically subjecting ourselves to a Dravya which is guru (heavy to digest) and kapha aggravating.
    • Hence, we advise sourcing raw, fresh A2 Cow’s milk which we can boil at home
      Milk should be soruced raw, and whole without pasteurisation
  • The Go Ksheera we get should be whole and taken directly from the cow – this means it should not be altered / changed in any way.
    • Commercial milk has fat extracted/ added back to suit standard trade definitions like low fat, medium fat, full fat etc
    • Whole milk has its own proportion of fat which depends upon desha, kala, cow species, etc.
    • The properties we have described of A2 Cow’s milk only hold if this milk is unaltered in any form – so we advise sourcing fresh, whole Raw A2 cow’s milk
  • Go Ksheera must be boiled with 25% water. The Milk has to be boiled until the water completely evaporates. This makes the milk lighter, and more easy to digest.
    • When milk is boiled this way, it is processed to ensure that no Kapha aggravation results.
    • The milk is lighter, more easy to digest and is absorbed much better as well.
  • Freshly boiled, warm milk is ideal to drink. It should be flavoured with the right spices that suit each one’s prakriti

A2 Cow's milk should be flavoured with correct spicces for your prakriti to enhance absorption

What can be added to make the taste of Milk more appealing?

We have a detailed post that talks about what flavouring is beneficial for each prakriti to make A2 Cow’s milk better absorbable by the body. Please take a look.

In Greeshma (summer) , Milk drinking is very vital . As excess heat drains the body and depletes Ojas – Milk is sweet, cooling and nourishing and ideal for this weather.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with Milk. As a child, I refused to drink warm Milk. I also disliked the sight of plain Milk. So I would demand addition of chocolate flavoured Milk additives.

The addition of such commercial Malted beverages is virrudha ahara. Many of the synthetic preservatives added to such drinks have a salty taste, and salt is virrudha ahara with Milk. Similarly adding sour substances is also virrudha ahara – citric acid and such preservatives added to these commercial Milk additives is also Virrudha Ahara.

Malted milk and other commercial milk additives are viruddha ahara

Hence: Do NOT add any commercial Malted beverage , chocolate or any flavouring agents to Milk. Please use the spices I have suggested in my post, and add good quality, unbleached, sulpharless sugar to your Milk.

I drink A2 Cow’s milk in my tea / coffee: is this good enough?

Many times I hear a response that Milk is consumed with Coffee / Tea. Please note, this is NOT Milk. Any substance added to Milk, changes / alters its properties. This is why we add certain spices to Milk like Turmeric, black pepper etc, to reduce its “Snigdha” (oil) guna, reduce its “Madhura” (sweet ) rasa and vipaka, etc.

Both coffee and tea strongly alter of the properties of Milk. So when we add these to Milk, we get a milder version of Coffee / Tea and not a slightly altered version of Milk.

Milk based coffee and tea is not milk.

This is good if you habitually consume Coffee and tea – both beverages are too strong and acidic to be consumed black / without Milk. You will do your gut lining a great favour by adding Milk.

But you will not get any of the good properties of Milk  in this manner.

Some other Issues with dairy farming: Commercial dairy practices and Going Vegan

As with all things that are good for us, we must learn to love and respect Cows Milk. It is important to choose a dairy farm where cruelty free diary practices are followed and the cows are respected and looked after well. Drinking hormone laced, antibiotic full Milk is harmful to health. It is also critical to choose milk from a dairy farm that contains desi, indigenous Indian cow breeds.

Ayurveda tells us that the Milk of the Gho (cow) is ideally suited for us. The Acharyas describe the Cow’s love, Compassion and kindness and intelligence and conclude that such Milk can ideally add to the human diet and enhance Medhya and Buddhi in the body, especially when enhanced with select herbs. Such a Divine Animal must not be mistreated. If we drink Milk from an abused Animal, it does us more harm than good and we accumulate Paapa (sin) according to Ayurveda.

Even small amounts of well sourced, cruelty free A2 Cow’s milk can act as an elixir to us. On the other hand, even high amounts of cruelty filled, antibiotic A1 Milk will do no good for us.

My experience with going vegan and why I do not recommend a vegan diet in general:

There is a whole, separate post waiting to be written about my experience with going vegan. As a lifelong vegetarian and wanting to live a more ethical life, I was horrified by commercial dairy farming practices.

So on the strength of my conviction, I went vegan in 2010 along with my partner, Srinivas Krishnaswamy.

We were committed and strict vegans until 2015 for 5 years. In 2016, on the consistent advice of my Vaidya and seeing disastrous health issues with being vegan, I switched back to a Vegetarian diet. At that time, I was suffering from severe anemia, and nutritional deficiencies. All of these were slowly corrected through Ayurvedic treatment and Ahara Niyama including drinking Milk.

In the case of Srinivas, his health issues were MUCH more severe. He developed a form of gout, described in Ayurveda as Vata Rakta. This is a SEVERE and aggravated increase in vata Dosha leading to extreme weight loss, extreme degeneration of bone, joint and teeth , and severe, constant pain while using the bones and joints. So for 2 years, Srinivas suffered from loose and shaky teeth, severe weight loss, reduced appetite, insomnia, anxiety and swelling of bone and joints – all signs of aggravated and imbalanced vata dosha.

Again in his case, it took Ayurvedic treatment of nearly a year with special medications, restricted travel and addition of good quantities of carefully sourced Milk and Ghee to make up for the nutritional deficiency.

When we begin to follow Ayurveda, we come to the realisation that Ayurveda and veganism do not co-exist. Go Ksheera , carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk is a panacea in Ayurveda.

It is consumed extensively during pregnancy, post partum, as a child, as an adult and in old age. It is only restricted in a few disease conditions.

All the modern milk based foods that we consume are not advised in Ayurveda. So there is no over dosing on cheese, curd, high amounts of paneer etc. We are advised to have some milk, small amount of buttermilk (obtained after making butter) and decent quantities of ghee.

There is a huge, disastrous, un-thought through urgency in the Vegan movement today, especially in India. Buoyed by a few studies like the China Study and limited success in a few disease conditions like diabetes (where Ayurveda anyway advises to follow a largely vegan diet), many Medical professionals, Nutritional experts and Vegan concerts are urging people to drop Dairy completely.

Nuanced debates on A1 vs A2 milk, on the benefits of a small amount of carefully chosen dairy, or even the differences between different Milk by products are not discussed in this wave. Ayurveda does not treat A1 and A2 milk as the same. Neither are the properties of Milk and curd the same nor is butter and ghee interchangeable.

Most importantly, enough is not being said about the issues many Vegans continue to face after many years of giving up on the beneficial aspects of Milk. I have shared my issues and my partner’s issues in detail here.

However, We are far from being the only Ex Vegans with health issues.

In my work, I have met many Vegans with extremely high vata aggravation, bone and joint disorders, restricted Menstrual blood flow, oral issues like loose and falling teeth  etc. At a simple level, many of the Vegans who have come to us at Krya complain of loose and brittle and falling hair, very high skin darkening and joint and bone issues like gout. All of this is linked to aggravated Vata dosha DIRECTLY affecting asthi dhatu (bone ) which is a key seat of Vata dosha in the body. Asthi Dhatu has a direct and immediate correlation with bone and joint health and the health of hair.

The aggravation in Vata dosha in the Vegan diet can be attributed to 2 key causes: Dropping Milk and ghee from the diet which potently bind aggravated Vata dosha in the body. The second reason is ADDING on a high amount of nuts, seeds and lentils and attempting to substitute Dairy with modified forms of Nuts , seeds and Lentils.

As we can guess, Nuts , Seeds and Lentils are already high in Vata Dosha and have dramatically different properties from Milk, ghee and other dairy products in Ayurveda. For example: Cashew milk can never be a substitute to A2 Cow’s milk – to think that something that looks and tastes like Cow’s Milk IS Cow’s Milk is absurd.

Nuts and their derivatives can strongly aggravate vata dosha

I share my Vegan story and my concerns around this movement to sound a warning bell. If you do intend to make such sweeping health changes, please consult many more health professionals, especially an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can examine you and ascertain if your body can handle this transition.

Do remember: We never miss good health until we lose it!

I haven’t drunk A2 Cow’s milk in a while: how to start?

 Most of us have an aversion to Milk. I did too.

At first it was extremely difficult for me to drink Milk. Milk is dense and slightly heavy to digest. It takes getting used to. It also has a subtle taste, especially if it is drunk without additives like chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.

I started with a small glass of Milk. I was slowly able to increase the volume of Milk drunk as my system got used to it. I am still unable to drink Milk twice a day as is advised for my stress level and activity. But I am able to drink 1 glass of Milk in the morning everyday and it is a good start.

Silver enhances the properties of Milk:

The Ayurvedic texts advise that Milk is ideally stored and drunk in a silver vessel. Metals are extremely important to enhance health as per Ayurveda and we are advised to eat and drink out of glasses and plates made with silver and gold. This ensures very minute quantities of these metals enter our body via the ghee and milk we consume in these vessels.

silver enhances milk properties

Milk drinking procedure to be followed:

Keep a separate silver glass / tumbler for each family member if possible. This is the case with all personal eating utensils, as the metal interacts with your lips, fingers, etc as you mix your food and drink your milk. The body the  absorbs whatever is appropriate for it from your glass / plate.

As soon as the milk is boiled, pour the appropriate amount into your silver tumbler and mix your sugar, spices, etc into the tumbler. Allow the milk to cool in this tumbler until it reaches a temperature you are happy with. Milk should be sipped warm, but everyone differs in how much warmth they can handle.

When should you be drinking Milk, ideally?

Ayurveda advises that you give yourself time to slowly enter the day when you wake up. This contemplative time is ideal for Milk drinking. Find a comfortable spot and look outside at trees / birds, etc while you slowly sip your milk.

Milk should be had only on an empty stomach. Morning is best as it gives your body time to absorb the Milk slowly. If this is not possible, evening time (around 4) is ok, but the stomach should be clear and empty.

Night Milk drinking is ONLY advised for old people, patients, people who are very emaciated, small children etc. Here too, in the case of Adults, Milk should be drunk on an empty stomach and enough time should be allowed for the body to digest the Milk – one must not go to sleep immediately. For these reasons, I suggest drinking Milk only in the daytime.

To Sum up: Benefits and Properties of A2 Cow’s milk

I hope this article gave you an insight into the great esteem with which Ayurveda holds carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk and its by products.

We write this article after a great deal of personal experimentation, harrowing health issues, and after experiencing the painful process of building our health one step at a time. We hope our experiences helps you make the right health decisions for you and your family. We also hope this article gives you insights into the importance of dairy and how you must include it for good health benefits.

If you have any questions on this, please write to us or call / whatsapp us (0-75500-89090)

4 thoughts on “Ahara Niyama : The Value of Desi A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda

  1. In a city like mumbai where to get A2 cow milk?
    Will Modi government take note of your article and instruct Animal husbandry Ministry to develop centres across country for breeding A2 milk producing cows
    Can a movement be started at National level to bring back desi glory?
    Many more

  2. The article is very simply, beautifully , logically articulated. I am experiencing the benefits of not only the Milk & its other derived products but also the agri produced from the soil nourished by using Dung & Urine . Also experiencing the Energy of the cows & the calming benefits from the ambience created by burning dung cakes with Ghee & Rice….we are so blessed to even experience the benefits of the ash left after doing our daily homa…..God bless you for explaining the theory, philosophy & the importance of Cow per se in our lives .

    1. Sanjay – thanks for sharing. It is great to know that in this day & age you are a Nitya Agnihotri – remarkable! Your farm and neighbors are indeed lucky to have the benefits of your agnihotra homa. The integration of farming with vedic living is perfectly symbiotic.

  3. thank you for share with us this very useful information….

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