Food Intolerance


From Milk




     Food intolerance is any unwanted reaction from food and includes food allergies.  Definite allergies to milk will be considered separately.  A food intolerance to milk is caused by inability to absorb, digest, or handle the chemical components in milk.  It can be caused by a chemical in compatibility between various parts of the milk and human chemicals.


     One type of such disease in humans is that of rectal bleeding due to milk.  A 38-year-old woman with a persistent seven year history of rectal bleeding stopped drinking milk and her rectal bleeding stopped.  When she was challenged with a test dose of milk on several occasions, her rectal bleeding promptly returned.

 British Medical Journal  1955


     Milk has been associated with ulcerative colitis at least since 1926.  One 12-year-old girl had the disease approximately two years, and cleared entirely after stopping the use of milk.  Her symptoms would become painfully evident by even the occasional use of a small quantity of milk.

     Our experience with many patients with ulcerative colitis supports the findings of other physicians that ulcerative colitis patients get along much better, and many have hope of complete cure if the diet is carefully controlled.  Milk is number one on the list of foods which may cause trouble for persons with ulcerative colitis.  Dr. I. Dodd Wilson believes that a reasonable approach to patients having acute attacks of ulcerative colitis might be to ban milk.  We have given a diet free from all dairy products to our ulcerative colitis patients for years, and find that their remissions are longer, relapses are fewer and some are entirely cured. 


     A 57-year-old man with peptic ulcer was placed on a diet consisting of milk and cream every hour on the half-hour and one gram of calcium carbonate every hour on the hour with 2.5 grams of magnesium oxide daily.  After three weeks he became drowsy, vomited, and had epigastric pain.  Blood chemistry determination showed abnormal blood urea, creatinine calcium (16mgs. %), phosphorus and carbon dioxide.  It was found that he had been eating from one-fourth to one-half pound of cheese daily, which contains the amount of nutrients equivalent to that contained in from one pint to one quart of milk daily.  He was found to have renal damage, which apparently returned to normal after his treatment routine was changed.  Southern Medical Journal  February 1955


     Among the childhood disorders associated with milk drinking are loss of appetite, anemia, fretfulness, bedwetting, constipation, bloating, abdominal pains, and diarrhea.

     Bedwetting can often be successfully treated by putting the child on a diet free from milk.  In one study, 110 children with bedwetting were placed on a diet containing no milk.  At least half of the children stopped bedwetting with the change in diet.  Of the others forty responded partially, but the remaining ten apparently did not respond to the milk-free diet.  In Chapter Ten the subject of the nerve depressing influence of certain amino acids of milk is discussed.  It may be through this mechanism that milk causes bedwetting.  It is speculated that milk may lower the child’s voiding reflex threshold because of an inhibition of certain centers in the brain stem, resulting in involuntary voiding.

     Because of the influence of milk or milk sensitivity on the central nervous system, a milk sensitivity or intolerance can present a number of symptoms of irritation of the nervous system in children, such as learning disability, head ache and just plain feeling bad.  Cases have been described in all these categories.  Multiple sclerosis is related to milk production and consumption in a way not fully understood.  Some investigators believe drinking milk during the period of most rapid brain development, and past the normal weaning age is detrimental, and that studies should be directed toward investigating the roll of milk, or some infectious or toxic agent contained in milk, in causing multiple sclerosis.  The Lancet  November 2, 1974


     Dairy milk has been associated with infantile colic, even in breast-fed infants; the mother drinks the milk and the baby develops infantile colic.  When the mother is put on a diet free of dairy milk protein, the colic disappears promptly.  If the mother starts drinking milk again, as many as twelve out of thirteen cases of infantile colic in breast-fed infants can be expected to reappear.  If an infant who has shown infantile colic through the mother’s milk drinking is challenged directly with the milk, four out of five  usually will react promptly by developing a bout of colic.  The treatment of colic in breast-fed infants should begin by removing milk from the diet of the mother.

     When a child has repeated colds,” or other respiratory diseases, the mother should always think of milk allergy.  A small Canadian boy having his eighth attack of pneumonia at twelve months of age was merely taken off milk and dairy products; he recovered and had no subsequent attacks.  Many children who suffer repeatedly from bronchitis and pneumonia turn out to have milk allergies or sensitivities to other common foods (citrus fruits, juices, eggs, pork, coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, artificial coloring and flavoring agents, spices, cane sugar, tomatoes, strawberries, breads and cereals, etc.  Consultant January 1968

     Childhood hypertension is associated with high intake of sodium and a high intake of calories.  By restricting both salt and calorie intake, any predisposition that a child may have to develop hypertension can be controlled.  Reducing salt intake to small amounts of diets of persons with high blood pressure almost always produces a favorable blood pressure response.  In some individuals, however, it is necessary to eliminate entirely both salt and oil.  It is certainly prudent to avoid heavy salting and the large intake of high fat foods common among children.  Since milk naturally possesses a high sodium content and is a high calorie food, its use in childhood hypertension is contraindicated.  Ideally, children should not even become acquainted with milkshakes, commercial candies and ice cream, fried snack foods and other concentrated and calorically dense foods.

     The presence of digested blood in the stools (stools have a black, tarry color) has been described in children as a result of milk drinking.  A 19-month-old infant whose stools were “pitch black” had anemia with a hemoglobin of eight grams, which completely disappeared on the withdrawing milk.  European Journal of Pediatrics 1979.  Any child with chronic diarrhea, bloody, or black stools, an increase in the number eosinophils in the blood, eczema, hives, asthma, or other signs of allergy should be investigated for milk intolerance.  If the symptoms continue when switching to soy milk, the diagnosis is still not ruled out, as at least 20% of patients intolerant to milk are also intolerant to soy protein.  Weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea, associated with chemical abnormalities in the blood are also found with soy protein intolerance.

     During infancy and childhood exposure to milk is usually most common.  Infancy and childhood are also the periods in life when the immune mechanism is as yet under developed.  Protection of children from infections may need to include protection from milk.  Caseine the principle protein in milk is especially likely to injure the lining of the first portion of the small bowel in young infants who have acute infectious enteritis.  It is recognized that babies recovering from enteritis should not be given a diet containing milk or foods containing lactose (milk sugar) or caseine (milk protein).  Archives Of Disease in Childhood  1979


     it is quite likely that infantile diarrhea is transmitted to babies through dairy products.  Outbreaks of diarrhea in children often follow the geographical area served by a single dairy.  When calves at the dairy are suffering an epidemic of diarrhea, it is not uncommon to have and epidemic of infantile diarrhea in the babies of the corresponding community at the same time.  This indicates that both outbreaks are due to the same virus.  Infantile diarrhea is sometimes life-threatening for a baby.  With the production of fifteen to twenty watery stools within a few hours, the infant becomes dangerously dehydrated.  To prevent diarrhea in infants, usually the only thing needed is to insure breast-feeding, and another serious disease of babies is eliminated.

     I well remember the case of a friendly, good-natured, black nurse who worked in the pediatrics department during my internship.  She had had her first child after twelve years of marriage.  Shortly after the birth of the baby, it was discovered that the mother had a urinary tract malformation, and must never have another pregnancy.  This premium baby was the mother’s pride and joy.  Unfortunate circumstances forced her to return to work when the baby was nearly three months old.  She reluctantly put the baby on formula and left the baby with the grandmother during her work shift.  One day the baby became sick with diarrhea and fever.  That night, the baby had several stools during a short time, and became moribund before morning.  She rushed the baby to the hospital, burst into the pediatrics emergency room with the unconscious baby in her arms.  I worked with the pediatrics staff over the baby for several anxious hours before it died.  The poor mother was inconsolable.  The distressed mourning of that mother is a painful memory, which constantly encourages me to educate all mothers everywhere to breast-feed their babies.  Many milk-borne infections that might snuff out the life of some infant or cause much suffering and grief, may be avoided thereby.


     A child may develop a chronic feeding problem because of too much milk, with an aversion to breakfast, a preference for soft carbohydrate foods that require little chewing.  The child may develop a problem with constipation, and may seem always to have a cold.  He may be over weight or underweight.  The parents may be anxious about his getting “enough milk” which they have been educated to believe is “nature’s” most nearly perfect food,” He is often a poor sleeper.

     Milk is a common cause of constipation, or of alternating diarrhea and constipation.  To get rid of constipation, milk should be eliminated, and fruits and vegetables, and whole grains should be added in generous quantities to the diet.  Many times if such an individual adds even a small amount of milk the constipation returns immediately.  This person may be tempted to believe that a small quantity of milk could not possibly be instrumental in bringing on his constipation, but faithful attention to total elimination of milk from the diet will often be very rewarding.

A. & C. Thrash