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Mahatma Gandhi


34. Cow's Milk for Lepers

[Dr. Santra is an authority on leprosy. What he says should carry weight. .Apart from my views on the cow, the medical profession owes a duty to the country to discover the relative values of different milks.

- M. K. G.]

"I cannot offer scientific argument in favour of the theory that protection of the cow will protect us from leprosy, but there are indications that the use of milk reduces the virulence of leprosy.

"In the last century a Sikh Baba got the reputation of curing leprosy at Sitalani in the Amritsar district. This reputation reached the ears of the Government, and the popular belief regarding the cure was so strong that the Government instituted an enquiry. The Civil Surgeon of Amritsar visited Sitalani and reported that the reported improvement was true, and that it was due not to any secret remedy but to the inclusion of a liberal amount of milk in the diet of the lepers who came to stay there.

"Dr. Muir, the father of anti-leprosy campaign in India, advised that lepers should take two seers of milk a day. The propaganda leaflets that he prepared had the picture of a cow, and he advanced the use of cow's milk.

"In recent days Dr. Cochrane of South India found that children having a malignant type of leprosy became benign more quickly when they got skimmed milk in addition to treatment. He would have done a great service, if he had obtained the milk locally rather than getting the powder from foreign countries. That would have given an opportunity to the lepers to do Goseva and provide manure for the kitchen gardens. Some time back it was claimed that vitamin A produced changes in leprosy towards good. We know that cow's milk, specially of those who feed on green grass, is very rich in vitamin A. Thus we have some scientific indication that the use of cow's milk will decrease the virulence of leprosy. When it becomes benign, the disease being unable to propagate itself, the number of lepers will naturally decrease."

Sevagram, 23-3-1942

Harijan, 29-3-1942