Published on Mar 01, 2011 with 47 comments
There is a wide-spread and accepted notion that there is a cause and effect relationship between the ingestion of milk and increased phlegm production. But, the truth is that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support such a claim. And, there is no truth to the notion that milk makes asthma worse, unless one is truly allergic to milk protein.
Yet, despite the lack of evidence, many people claim such a relationship, especially during an upper respiratory virus or when they are having allergy symptoms. This claim is so pervasive that many physicians recommend stopping milk during these episodes. Even though such anecdotal evidence does not stand up to the scrutiny of scientific trials, The Online Allergist does not rule out the possibility that there is a subset of susceptible individuals who may indeed have increased mucus production when exposed to milk. This is clearly not an allergic reaction, but other immunologic or contact responses may be operative. There is even a recent article that suggests that some milk from certain breeds of cows contains a protein that causes the mucus glands of the gastrointestinal tract to over-react on contact.
Fact or old wives’ tale? It is difficult to say. Regardless, if you are one who believes that milk increases the amount or thickness of phlegm during an upper respiratory infection or allergies, there is certainly no harm in stopping milk during that episode.