This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
When a patient's digestion is very weak, if living in the country, or keeping a cow, he should make a dietetic trial of "strippings," that is, the milk obtained by re-milking the cow soon after it has been already milked. The supplementary milk will flow in quite a thin stream, at the end of the first milking, being rich in cream as fattening food, but containing very little casein, or more heavy proteids, and being thus less difficult of digestion than the first milk. In acute disease of the kidneys, a milk-diet is found to increase the output of urea (poisonous, if retained) and of other solids, whilst diminishing the amount of morbid albumen in the urine. If the patient grows tired of new milk, then butter-milk will make a welcome change; or the "skimmed milk" from which the cream has been first separated, and in which, if left to itself and not too cold, is developed through bacterial action lactic acid, with a formation of the casein into curds, leaving a liquid whey, suitable as a change from the butter-milk. This whey will contain sugar of milk, and some of the mineral salts, though with a tendency to constipate; in which case, nevertheless, the swarms of putrefactive microbes, which commonly occupy the large intestine, producing poisonous alkaloids, toxins, and fatty acids, will be prevented from doing mischief by the lactic acid of the whey.
A similar curative effect will follow the external use of butter-milk, or whey, in cases of chronic skin disease, such as persistent eczema, by destroying the noxious microbes which infest the affected skin. Amongst the normal symptoms exhibited by a patient on a purely milk diet, are a certain amount of drowsiness, and the passage of a large quantity of urine of a pale greenish colour; the tongue becomes coated with a white fur, and there is often a sweetish taste in the mouth. A moderate degree of constipation is favourable, orange-coloured stools being passed at intervals of two or three days. But if this symptom becomes too pronounced, then a little coffee or caramel may be added to the morning's milk, or a small plateful of stewed fruit, apples, figs, or French plums, may be eaten once a day.
Again, an unaltered pure albumen, capable of being taken up readily into the system by easy digestion, and such as cannot be had in any meat extract (as Liebig felt bound to confess), exists in what is known to-day as Plasmon, the albumin of fresh milk, and with the original salts, phosphates, etc., all retained. It occurs as a dry granular powder, available for various culinary modes of preparation. Fresh meat furnishes such albumen, and essential salts; but in making an extract of the meat much common salt has to be added, and the albumen is left in the residue, which extract cannot be fashioned into a complete article of food, not even by adding this residue, when dried, to the meat extract. But it may be fairly claimed that Plasmon is the albumen of milk, not spoilt by any addition of salt, and so remaining unchanged, in its nutritive integrity. Moreover, it is alleged that one teaspoonful of Plasmon represents - as regards the proteids and nutritive organic salts - a quarter of a pound of best fillet of beef, being at the same time free from sugar and fat.
All new Milk, whilst yet in the animal's udder, is sterile as regards any noxious bacterial life; but when drawn, and examined microscopically at its newest state, it always, contains some leucocytes; if these multiply to twenty or thirty in the field of a one-sixth objective, the Milk is to be suspected. Happily invention is already coming to the rescue, and a vacuum device for the milking of cows is obtaining a wide use. The air within the sterilized milk-can is first exhausted, whilst a flexible tube is then connected with the top of the can by one of its ends, and with the teats of the cow by four caps at the other end (stop-cocks being provided for working the apparatus), when suction withdraws the Milk from the udder into the can, without the least access of air from first to last. The lower portion of each cup is glass, which permits the operator to watch the working of this device.
Pure Milk should be white in colour, yet the customer has generally a notion that yellowness means richness. This effect can be produced easily, and without expense, by the accommodating milkman. He uses annatto, or turmeric, or saffron, knowing that a few drops of either will make the Milk as yellow as a canary, and without affecting its taste. But the latest and most favourite colouring is a coal-tar product (employed also for giving the lovely pink, orange, and violet hues seen in modern sweetmeats, and confectionery). This is called by the chemist sodium di-methyl-amido-azo-benzene-sulphonate, and is of a bright orange colour. What might happen, may well be asked, if one were to swallow this fearfully long and difficult name, as well as the sophisticated product it signifies? The colour of Milk yielded by Jersey cows is naturally yellow; likewise by cows newly turned out to grass; but the best and richest Milk is of a chalky white colour. Annatto (as employed sometimes for imparting a yellow appearance to the milk) is a dye procured from the seeds of the Arnatto tree of tropical America; it is, fortunately, harmless. In the Southern States there grows the Goat's Rue (Galega officinalis), which is a remarkable milk-producer; as such the plant is gathered, and cured for making an elixir.
This increases the weight of lean persons, or of those who have lost flesh (apart from wasting progressive disease) more effectually even than cod-liver oil, being a powerful promoter of nutrition. A liquid extract thereof can be procured from our manufacturing chemists. It assists capitally in augmenting the flow of breast-milk for mothers.
Pure, good Milk, becomes naturally converted into curds and whey, by standing until sour, but even then it is salutary, and wholesome. But if boracic acid is used, the souring process is arrested injuriously, the milk becoming converted into a tasteless, mischievous, and quickly-putrefying fluid, which is apparently all right as long as kept cold, but when subjected to any degree of heat gives off a very offensive odour. The preservatives employed by unscrupulous vendors for preventing sourness in stale Milk are salicylic acid, borax, boracic acid, and formalin, these being potential drugs, and destroyers of germs. Sometimes starch, and gelatine, are used for thickening milk which is to be sold as cream. "At one time," says a grimly humorous moral of to-day, "the man ate the cream: now they cremate the-man!" It is to be borne thoughtfully in mind that cows' Milk, in whatever form or condition other than that of "new" from the udder, is an incomplete and defective kind of food. As to allowing any preservative therewith, even borax, if comparatively safe when in a very limited quantity, there is a danger of getting this to excess, because of its use in several repetitions altogether; first at the farm, then by the middleman, next by the retailer of butter and milk, finally, too, in the kitchen; so again likewise with the bacon, or fish; and though in each case the amount employed may be small, yet in the aggregate the total will be harmful, resulting in kidney mischief, whitlow of fingers, or some other morbid affection.