Doctor on a mission to end milk-phlegm myth

Court physician created the notion 800 years ago, says paediatric respiratory specialist

It’s a myth that’s been around since the 13th century, but a UK doctor is on a mission to dispel the persistent belief that drinking milk creates phlegm.

Despite no supporting evidence, parents continue to prevent their children from drinking milk in the belief that it increases phlegm, says paediatric respiratory consultant Dr Ian Balfour-Lynn, of London’s Royal Brompton Hospital.

And it’s up to healthcare workers to put the myth to bed, once and for all, he writes in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

“While certainly the texture of milk can make some people feel their mucus and saliva is thicker and harder to swallow, there is no evidence (and indeed evidence to the contrary) that milk leads to excessive mucus secretion,” he writes.

“The milk-mucus myth needs to be rebutted firmly by healthcare workers.”

The idea that milk might generate excess phlegm was started in 1204