Kourtney Kardashian Drank Breast Milk When She Was Sick—Are There Any Benefits?

Experts say it's unlikely that breast milk offers adults any benefits. Here's why.



Fact checked by Sarah Scott

As a mama who breastfed her daughter up until she was 2 years old, I was tempted to drink some of my own breast milk. I even used leftovers once to make French toast with it. Why?

My little one couldn’t get enough of it, and because she thought it was a culinary delight, this piqued my interest to try it. To this day, she knows the difference between “mama nai nai” and “cow’s nai nai,” as she calls them. (Nai nai means milk in Cantonese.)

So, when I found out that Kourtney Kardashian ”pounded a glass” of breast milk in what appeared to be an attempt to cure her ailments when she was sick, it didn’t come as a shock to me that she sipped some.

Can human milk really boost an adult's immune system though? This has long been a belief, and there are even online markets selling it for adults. But breast milk is unlikely to have any benefits for adults, experts say. A stranger’s breast milk can also pose some serious health risks.

We know human milk has benefits for babies. “Breast milk contains antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells that can boost the immune system and potentially help fight off a looming infection,” says Leanne Rzepa, RN, BN, IBCLC, of Nourish Lactation Consulting.

It sounds like Kardashian, a mom of four known for a holistic lifestyle, was attempting to reap these exact benefits. But while there are proven studies to show how beneficial breast milk can be for babies, it’s a slightly different case for adults.

“Breast milk is specifically tailored to meet the nutritional needs of infants and contains antibodies that help boost their immune system,” Ayat Sleymann, MS, RDN, of Nutrition For Moms, also points out. “However, these benefits might not translate to adults in the same way.”

Ultimately, she says, there simply is not enough evidence to support breast milk’s efficacy in adults as an effective treatment for any type of sickness. Remember, an infant’s gut is different than an adult’s.

But is it safe for a parent to drink if they wanted to?

The answer is yes, but with a bit of a caveat. “Adults can technically drink breast milk,” says Sleymann. “Breast milk is a nutrient-rich fluid produced by mammary glands to feed their young, but in general, it is not common for adults to consume breast milk regularly.”

Importantly, it’s best for adults to avoid drinking raw breast milk that isn’t theirs.

“It is not recommended to drink someone else's breast milk,” explains Rzepa. “Breast milk is made from your blood so the milk donor needs to be screened and blood tested (for risk of transmitting infections and other contaminants) before it would be considered safe for you to drink their milk.”

Those risks can be bacterial, as well as infectious diseases, such as HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B and C.

And what about any claims that human milk has helped an adult recover from a cold? That’s likely due to a placebo effect. “If someone believes that drinking breast milk will make them feel better, they might experience a psychological sense of well-being simply because of their belief that it works,” says Sleymann.

It’s also important to consider that when someone is sick, says Sleymann, they are most likely also resting, drinking lots of liquids, and taking care of themselves a little better during this time. “It is difficult to say that the breast milk in itself has caused the health improvement and not the possible other factors that could be at play,” she explains.

So, if you want to dabble in tasting some of your own breast milk, as I did, go ahead—but if you expect it to be a holy grail cure for your illnesses, it’s best to stick to the tried, tested, and true methods of healing mentioned above, instead.

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