The Inflammation from A1 Milk is Mind-Boggling

A1 Milk

For some people, cow’s milk is simply devastating to health.  We can wish for milk to be healthy because of its calcium and protein. We can hope that milk is better if it’s raw or organic.

We cannot get around the fact that one of the proteins in milk – A1 casein – is highly inflammatory for some people.  In susceptible individuals, A1 casein is cleaved to form a powerful immune-modulating opiate called casomorphin.

Not all cows produce A1 casein.  It comes from Holstein and Friesian cows who are the dominant  breeds in western Europe, North America and Australia. Milk cows in Africa, Asia, Iceland and southern Europe make milk with mostly A2 casein. Those countries have a lower incidence of the conditions discussed below.

Milk that has predominantly or exclusively A2 casein is fine for most people. I find this in my clinic again and again. Goat’s milk is A2. And so is milk from Jersey cows. Dairy products that are mostly fat – like butter – are also fine.

Which conditions suffer from A1 milk?

A1 casein is a trigger for Type 1 diabetes (the research around this is fascinating). It is also highly implicated in coronary artery disease and autoimmune disease.

Casein is involved – with gluten – in Autism and Schizophrenia. Evidence is that casomorphin is more damaging to the brain than the gliadorphin from gluten.

Casomorphin’s drug-like effect explains why it worsens anxiety and mood disorders, and causes cravings for dairy and sugar. (Causes withdrawal-symptoms when it’s stopped.)

The inflammation from A1 casein causes lymphatic congestion, metabolic suppression, and weight gain.

A1 milk can worsen acne, eczema, upper respiratory infections, asthma and allergies.

It causes digestive problems, and not because of the lactose. Because of the massive histamine release from casomorphin.

In my hormonal practice, I see that A1 casein drives endometriosis. I believe that it does so because it of its inflammatory, immune-disruptive effect. I have yet to see one case of endometriosis that did not improve by avoiding A1 milk.

Who is affected?

Some people are fine with A1 casein (they safely deactivate and eliminate the casomorphin).  There is no simple test. It is not an allergy.

The problem occurs in people who A)  lack the digestive enzymes to deactivate casomorphin, or B) have intestinal permeability which allows the reactive peptide to enter the blood stream. (Or both A and B.)

The clinical clue that I watch for is: recurring upper respiratory infections as a child. Either ear infections, bronchitis or tonsillitis. Those infections were driven by A1 casein, and in adulthood, the same immune-disruption manifests as other inflammatory conditions.

Does Raw Help?

Certain types of pasteurisation increase the amount of casomorphin in A1 dairy, so raw milk may bebetter. My instinct is that raw doesn’t solve the problem. We need to move away from Holstein cows.

If you want to know more about A1 casein, please read New Zealand Professor Keith Woodford’s book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health, and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk. I spent an entire afternoon reading it (like a kid reading Stephen King), and  I love his scientist-style of writing. When referring to various studies, he takes the extra step to “run the numbers” himself.

The dairy industry in Australia and New Zealand is breeding the A2 allele into its herds, and A2 milk is now available in most supermarkets (labelled as A2).

I would love to hear from other practitioners. Please comment.

Yours in Health, Lara Briden

[2014 update] New peer-reviewed study in the European Journal of Nutrition:  Comparative evaluation of cow β-casein variants (A1/A2) consumption on Th2-mediated inflammatory response in mouse gut. PMID 24166511. (Evidence that A1 beta-casein (but not A2 casein) generates inflammatory markers including myeloperoxidase (MPO) and interleukin-4 (IL-4).)

New Human study: Comparative effects of A1 versus A2 beta-casein on gastrointestinal measures: a blinded randomised cross-over pilot study. PMID: 24986816

28 thoughts on “The Inflammation from A1 Milk is Mind-Boggling

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lara Briden

      February 20, 2013 at 10:00pm

      Hi Vicki-Lee. It’s a great question about homogenisation, thank you. Homogenisation is heavy processing, and intuitively, it seems that food would be better without it. But I don’t have any definitive information about it like I do about the A1 issue. I’d love to hear of any studies about homogenisation and health.

      I prefer my patients to switch to goat cheese and coconut milk. For those people that insist on milk, they seem to do reasonably well on the A2 milk, and it is homogenised.

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

        michele

        August 24, 2013 at 10:58pm

        I have read a bit on homogenisation being harmful to us in that it mircofines the fats which make it unnatural or unhealthy for our body to digest and likely harmful to us or our cholesterol. Im sorry I dont have any links handy & I realise the whole “cholesterol” debate is likely not a good enough excuse to worry about. But I just thought Id mention what Id read. I wish I could offer something more definative, but it might be a good start to look into for the scientific minded that wishes to.

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Angela

    February 22, 2013 at 8:27pm

    We all avoid A1 milk in my family, rice milk or A2 for us. Good to read more about it, we found out from Applied Kinesiology, after trying to eliminate many other foods.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cate

    February 22, 2013 at 8:30pm

    Fascinating. My alcoholic, probably (I say definitely but he was never tested- who knew?) coeliac father would usually take a glass of milk to bed after a day eating wheat and an evening of a few wines or vodkas. What a horrible temper he had, and what an anxious, depressed and irritable creature. He died from bronchial complications (pneumonia) after a double knee op. He was asthmatic too. Thanks for this. The jigsaw is almost complete..

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mel

    February 22, 2013 at 9:21pm

    Wow! I am about to go for my second round of surgery for severe endometriosis in two years and I had no idea there was a link with A1. Will be making the switch to A2 immediately!

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    AM

    March 19, 2013 at 11:13am

    This is a great article! A few months ago medical folk confirmed I was lactose intolerant. I had also previously had a naturopathic allergy test which showed a slight reaction to cassein and whey. I went completely off dairy for a little while after lactose intolerance was diagnosed, before trying lactose free cream, pure organic cream and hard yellow ‘low lactose’ cheese- none of which agreed with me- they gave me headaches, dry mouth and less severe than before stomach cramps. After being off dairy products again for a while, I read this article and decided to try some A2 yoghurt (I usually substitute with coconut milk/ cream but needed some probiotics). I have had a small amount of this by itself after dinner, twice- and so far so good. Baffles me as to why A2 yoghurt is working and the rest didn’t work, but I can only guess it was the A1 protein as per your article??? It could also be that a while after eliminating dairy, I took wheat out of my diet and my gut is healing, but I’m not sure. Anyway, such an interesting article- thanks so much.

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    SuburbanButSubversive

    October 16, 2013 at 3:36pm

    Hi Lara. I realise this post is a bit old, but my naturopath has instructed me to avoid A1 casein and I’m still figuring out what I can and can’t eat. Several sources have said that ricotta is fine as it’s made from whey – what are your thoughts on this? And cream?
    I’m only two weeks in, but my skin is already clearing up and my (CFS-related) brain fog is slowly abating. Very exciting! : )

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lara Briden

      October 17, 2013 at 9:04am

      yes, i find that ricotta (whey) is ok for most of my A1-sensitive patients. So is butter and small amount of full-cream. Yes, the brain-fog is usually the first symptom to clear when you remove the opiate (casomorphin).

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

        SuburbanButSubversive

        October 17, 2013 at 12:55pm

        Thanks Lara! You’ve just expanded my options for dinner. Just found a gluten-free ricotta gnocchi recipe that I can’t wait to try.
        @Michele, brain fog is the worst! It was one of my very first CFS symptoms. My naturopath thinks it’s related to leaky gut, so we’re working to fix that. Fingers crossed it does the trick! I’m also avoiding gluten at the moment – I’ve read that gluten can have a similar opiate-like effect. Certainly explains why I turn into a carb monster as soon as I have a single piece of bread or cake!

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    michele

    October 16, 2013 at 11:07pm

    Id be interested to know more about this question from SBS as well!! I get brain fog & have CFS too.

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    stratman

    January 4, 2014 at 2:38pm

    Hi Lara. I should avoid milk with A1 proteins but what about consuming butter from A1 protein sources? Do we still get the negative effects of A1 through butter? Thank you.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lara Briden

      January 5, 2014 at 3:22am

      Butter is mostly fat, and contains very little A1 casein or any protein. It seems to be fine for most people. Cream is also usually ok. As a rule, if you’re going to have dairy, choose full-fat.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Lee

    January 23, 2014 at 4:33am

    My 6 year old daughter is allergic to A1, as we found out very quickly after she was born (not quickly enough to prevent 6 sleepless weeks and her being admitted to hospital. She was breast fed, so I wonder how my wife is affected (she still takes A1 as she doesn’t believe that food affects heakth). I stopped taking A1 about 6 months ago after being directed to Keith Woodford and ended up with withdrawal symptoms for a couple of weeks. I’m autistic too (Asperger), so I gave up wheat, sugar and veg oils. My mood’s better but I still grt depressed m possibly more so than I used to.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    laura

    February 6, 2014 at 4:04am

    Could A1 casein cause or increase stuttering?

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Robby Filson

    February 25, 2014 at 11:24am

    There is no solid scientific evidence demonstrating that A2 milk is better for you than regular milk. As there is no food safety issue with either type of milk people are encouraged to keep drinking either A1 or A2 milk as a nutritious food.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lee

      February 26, 2014 at 4:34am

      Robby, my daughter would strongly disagree as she gets severe intestinal inflammation from as little as a spoonful of yoghurt. I would also disagree on the basis that I get a breakout of spots all over my thighs when I have too much A1 and I also get withdrawal symptoms when I’ve had it for a while and then switchbto A2. It may be a specific genetic issue with a minority of the population but a lack of “solid scientific evidence” as you say only indicates that a suitable unbiased study has not been conducted. For what it’s worth, I consumed normal (A1) milk for 38 years without any obvious issues; it is only when I found out about my daughter that I performed controlled trials on myself and discovered the effects. I now minimise my A1 consumption but don’t avoid it completely.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lara Briden

      May 2, 2014 at 10:02am

      It is a morphine-like drug, so it causes withdrawal at the opioid receptors. Most common symptom is headache, but it’s not unusual to see mild cold symptoms.
      However, Most people do not experience withdrawal. Most people just feel better.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Jalissa

    June 15, 2014 at 8:40am

    Hi Lara I really enjoy reading your blog. Id love to find out more about A1 and its link to Type 1 Diabetes. Are there any useful links or articles you know of that could help me?
    Thank You

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    stance34

    July 1, 2014 at 7:38pm

    Interesting, it seems I naturally gave up A1 without thinking much about it. I use full cream in my coffee, and butter but I rarely buy milk even though, I don’t think I ever had a problem with it. I use almond milk and coconut milk in my smoothies. Occasionally I crave dairy milk and buy it but rarely these days. Is cheese considered A1? I do like cheese and eat it often.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lara Briden

      July 1, 2014 at 7:50pm

      Yes, cheese has A1 casein. Some cheeses have more than others. If you think that A1 casein is a problem for you, then you will want to switch to goat and sheep cheese. Ricotta is ok, because it is whey, not casein. .

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Shauntelle

    September 3, 2014 at 12:36am

    Hi Lara,

    I know this is an older article, but I ran across it doing research on my son’s dairy allergy. I know he does better when we can remove or severely limit the dairy he eats, but his favorite food is cereal and he has reactions to both coconut milk and soy milk, he’s allergic to nuts so we don’t dare try almond milk and he hates the taste of rice milk… I know you can’t tell me definitively, but does your client experience suggest an A2 milk might be an option? And how long would you think I should wait from the last time he had regular milk before testing the switch to A2 milk instead? I’ve found two local dairy farms that have Jersey cows, but it would still be pasteurized milk… would that be an issue, do you think?

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lara Briden

      September 4, 2014 at 8:59am

      Yes, A2 might be an option for him. I should clarify that Jersey milk is mostly A2 casein. Depending on the genetics of the cow herd, some Jersey milk may also contain some A1 casein. Ask supplier/farmer if they know the A1/A2 content of their milk.

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Shelley

    October 17, 2014 at 6:47pm

    Hi Lara. You write that the clinical clue you watch for is: recurring upper respiratory infections as a child. Either ear infections, bronchitis or tonsillitis.
    Add sinusitis to the list. I suffered acute sinusitis repeatedly from the age of about 4 years. I’d be horribly ill for 2 weeks out of 3 for months at a time. I thought that probably sinusitis would be the thing that eventually carried me off.
    I also experienced such profound brain fog that I was diagnosed with first ADD, then, years later, Asperger’s.
    I felt something in my diet was affecting me badly but couldn’t work out what it was – it COULDN’T be dairy! I loved dairy in all its forms, and told myself that I was ok with it.
    Eventually I went without it for a month while testing my son for food sensitivities. When I reintroduced it I knew within minutes that dairy was the cause of my brain fog. Other conditions that have gone into mysterious remission since I stopped eating dairy include periodontitis (the dentist and hygienist weren’t quick to believe me, but the quite serious inflammation has completely gone and not returned, although I can reliably turn it on and off by consuming dairy); the sinusitis just doesn’t happen any more; adult acne is gone; gut pain is mostly gone; Achilles tendonitis is gone. The symptoms that led to the ADD and Asperger’s diagnoses are gone.
    I’m better off without dairy of any kind as I seem to be mildly affected by even A2 and goats milk products.
    All this is wonderful, but 50+ years of inflammation has left me a bit shattered, and I’m wondering if I’m on the beginning of the long slide into dementia. I found your site while looking for links between casein intolerance and Alzheimer’s.
    Do you know of any research into this area?

I welcome your comment!