Milk and milk products, such as yogurt, have been valued since ancient times for their soothing and luxurious properties. Cleopatra herself is said to have bathed in a concoction of milk and rose petals.
Milk is essentially an emulsion of fat globules within a water-based fluid, containing carbohydrates, protein, and minerals. The carbohydrates contained in milk include lactose, glucose, and galactose. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, K, E, thiamine, niacin, biotin, riboflavin, folate, and pantothenic acid are also present in milk. Minerals include calcium, phosphate, magnesium, sodium, potassium, citrate, and chlorine. Lactic acid, which is derived from sour milk, is an alpha-hydroxy acid, and is frequently used in chemical peels to soften and gently brighten the skin. Whole milk has traditionally been used throughout South Asia to gently exfoliate rough skin, hydrate dry patches, and brighten skin tone.
Spiritual and religious connections to milk abound. The Greek goddess Hera reportedly spilled her breast milk after refusing to feed Heracles, thus creating the Milky Way. The god Krishna was known for his predilection for freshly churned butter. Hindu and Jain priests still perform a ceremony called abhisheka, in which milk is poured on the image of a deity while chanting sacred mantras. The choice of product – milk, yogurt, or ghee – is determined by the type of abhisheka being performed.
In India, which has the world’s largest production of milk, the cow is considered to be a sacred animal. Not only does she provide her calf with milk, but she shares her extra production with humans. As a symbol of non-violence, the cow teaches one gentleness and selflessness. In Ayurvedic medicine, milk is considered to be a sacred food which nourishes all the tissues of the body, promotes emotional balance, and balances the doshas.
For all of the reasons and more, milk remains one of our favorite ingredients. It is contained in our oatmeal cleansing milk .