Drink camel’s milk? Really? And, for those who cannot drink the milk from a goat or cow, is it possible camel’s might be for you?
I want to share my experience with camel milk for autism.
As a nutritionist for children with autism for 20 years, my research and clinical experience indicate that most children with autism cannot adequately tolerate dairy.
Particularly, their bodies have challenges digesting the protein casein. Even when milk is raw and contains A2 beta-casein (not A1), experience shows that most children do not tolerate it.
So, imagine my delight (and initial skepticism) when parents approached me and shared personal stories about the healing properties of camel milk, and how it’s fundamentally different than any other milk on the planet.
As I began to research it for myself, I heard from autism parents who told me that camel milk has helped their children tremendously, with no adverse reactions to this “dairy.” (Thank you Randi, Jessica, Nicole, and Christina – I learn so much from you parents on the front lines).
Camel milk may seem obscure, but the more I research and read personal anecdotes from parents and clinicians the world over, the more amazing I think it may actually be at helping kids improve and recover from autism – and many other people with gut issues, immune system challenges, nutrient deficiencies, and more!
If you’re following the GAPS Diet, gluten-free casein-free, or any healing food strategy intended to improve the body’s chemistry and functioning, you’ll want to check out camel milk.
Camel Milk Benefits For Autism
Research and experience from an increasing number of people around the world demonstrate that camel milk facilitates healing in our bodies. Camel milk has many unique and amazing properties.
Since children with autism routinely have immune system challenges, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies and inflammatory food reactions, and underlying biochemical issues that impact their condition, camel milk and its healing properties can be helpful.
Here are some facts on camel’s milk:
- Camel milk has been shown to heal food allergies and gut problems. The antibodies and immune properties of camel’s milk contribute to its wonderful viral and bacterial fighting abilities.
- It is particularly helpful in addressing immune system dysregulation in various forms. Camel milk can support and help people with autoimmune conditions, including autism, heal.
- A research study by Dr. Reuven Yagil (2005) shows camel milk has positive results in children with autism.
- Camel milk contains insulin and is effective in diabetes, including gestational diabetes.
Camel herders and indigenous cultures have known about the power of camel milk for a long time. To this day, Bedouin parents send their children to drink camel milk for a couple weeks in their childhood, as they know that it sets up a strong immune system for life. Dr. Weston A. Price observed their dental health (and therefore physical health) was excellent stating, “The Arabs in several districts use camels’ milk extensively. It is nutritious, and in much of the desert country constitutes the mainstay of the nomads for months at a time.”
Camels are built differently than any other animal. Camels are not ruminants but are Tylopodes and have three stomachs, but they do ruminate. They can survive in incredibly harsh climates, and are able to live without water for 30 days at a time (even with little food), while still producing high quality milk. Imagine that!
A large part of camel milk’s healing power stems from the unique and hardy immune system of camels, it’s unlike any other mammal.
Camel Milk: Highly Nutritious with Unique Casein
Camel milk is highly nutritious. The milk contains only 2% fat (I’m not a fan of low-fat, but these are the facts). The fat molecules are joined to protein, so there is no stress on the liver to process it. Higher is some nutrients and lower in others—camel milk is rich in vitamin C (5x that of cow’s milk), iron (10x) and calcium. The fat profile of camel milk varies in a “rich diet” (domesticated camels) versus the diet camels eat in the desert – but generally it’s high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, with a higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 compared with cow’s milk.
Camel milk is considered a complete food and can be consumed exclusively while meeting all nutritional requirements. Camel milk is most frequently consumed raw and unpasteurized, because the raw milk contains the most nutritional and immune properties. Only when the quality and safety of the milk is in question would someone pasteurize it.
Camel’s milk contains no beta-lactoglobulin and a “new” beta-casein. Therefore it is not reactive to children with autism and even non-allergenic to those with even the most sensitive allergy to milk and casein. One study found Camel’s milk was also not recognized from circulating IgEs from a child specifically allergic to ewe’s milk. Children with severe food allergies react well to the milk, and astonishingly, fully recover from their allergies including to other foods.
Casein molecules are actually micelles and camel micelles have been found to be larger in size (15 nm) than those of cow milk or human milk. Camel milk has a lower pH than other milk, so that upon entering the stomach the casein micelles do not break down into casein and whey and therefore do not break into casomorphins. Casomorphin creation from cow milk consumption is a common problem in autism that increases autistic symptoms.
Camel Milk: Immune Benefits
One of the most unique and powerful healing aspects of camel milk is its immune system benefits.
And children with autism have underlying immune system challenges and inflammation that affects their brain and autism symptoms including a reduced capacity to fight bacterial, viral and other infections effectively, and chronic inflammation, allergy, and autoimmunity. Camel milk has promising immune system and healing benefits.
Camel milk has an amazing immune profile.
The immunoglobulins (Igs) and protective proteins in camel milk contribute to camel milk’s incredible infection fighting and eradication capacity. Camel Igs (which exist in the milk) are able to penetrate into tissues and cells that human Igs were unable to. Therefore, they are able to get into the kidney or inside a cell, where they are also able to completely neutralize the enzyme activity of an infectious agent such as a bacteria or virus.
Camel milk also contains immunoglobulins (Igs) that are special in camels, including unique subclasses IgG2 and IgG3. The Igs are the same structure as human immunoglobulins but only one-tenth the size. Being so small, they can penetrate into tissues and organs to fight infection and aid repair, where human antibodies cannot.
Camel antibodies have superior antibacterial and antiviral properties. As stated in Dr. Reuven Yagil’s autoimmune paper, “conventional antibodies rarely show a complete neutralizing activity against enzyme antigens, but camel IgG has a full neutralizing activity against tetanus toxin as it enters the enzymes structure.” Viruses can also be neutralized by knocking out their enzyme activity, and studies show the camel antibody is an effective inhibitor against hepatitis C enzyme system.
In a study on camel milk for autism, the author compares camel milk to intravenous immunoglobulin therapy that acts as a natural immunoglobulin therapy, whose effects continue after the therapy is stopped, because of the immune rehabilitating action.
Camel Immune Protective Proteins
Camel milk contains the following immune proteins (often in higher qualities than other milk):
- Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein, PGRP is very high in camel milk. It stimulates the host’s immune response and has antimicrobial activity. It even appears to have an effect on breast cancer in studies.
- Lactoferrin is also in higher concentrations in camel milk, more than cows and goats. Lactoferrin prevents microbial overgrowth and invading pathogens. Lactoperoxidase, has bactericidal activity on gram-negative bacterial like Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, and, Pseudomonas, and has antitumor activity.
- Lysozyme is an enzyme that is part of the innate immune system that targets gram-positive bacteria. N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosamidase (NAGase) found in similar quantities in human milk has antibacterial activity.
One theory about autoimmune disease is that the body attacks itself because it’s trying (in vain) to get at the bacteria buried in the intestinal tissue. Camel milk’s antibacterial activities and the special immune response allow for their penetration into the intestinal tissues when the “quiet” bacteria turn pathogenic. Because the antibodies are able to get into the affected tissue to attack the infectious agent (for example the saprophyte bacteria found in Crohn’s disease), camel milk can help someone heal in ways not seen through any other intervention – dietary or otherwise.
Camel Milk and Autism (and Beyond)
Dr. Yagil says that “camel milk does not contain the two caseins that lead to the autism symptoms when drinking cow milk. Therefore camel milk can safely be drunk by autistic children.”
The results published in a paper on camel milk for autism were very positive, especially for younger children that “showed an apparent complete recovery from autism after strict removal of cow’s milk”. Regarding the results seen with autism, Dr. Yagil explains, “it is NOT only a case of repressing the clinical signs but a rehabilitation of the immune system. Therefore the kids completely recover. “
Since camel milk is nourishing and easy to digest, it does not trigger allergenic or opiate responses, and helps heal the gut and infections, protecting and enhancing the immune system.
Considering the vast qualities of camel milk, there seems no limit to the range of maladies that it may help address. The positive reports from parents are exciting – camel milk holds great promise, and future study and clinical experience will be valuable. From parents to professionals like Dr. Yagil, I am intrigued and enthused about the value and healing properties of camel milk for people with a wide-variety of health conditions.
Camel milk would be a wonderful addition to special diets such as a GAPS diet or other therapeutic diet. And it can be a nourishing food for people looking to boost their nutrition or improve their health. I’m drinking it, and so is my daughter.
10 Camel Milk Benefits
If you’d like to learn more about the healing benefits of camel’s milk and further research, you can go to my BioIndividual Nutrition blog for practitioners.
Is There Any Time Camel Milk is Not Appropriate for Autism?
Since everyone is unique and all nutrition is bioindividual, there are some people that camel milk isn’t right for.
I find that some of my clients just don’t tolerate it. Like any food, some people have a negative reaction. Sometimes it’s hard to know why.
Additionally, dairy, including camel milk, is not tolerated with people who have cerebral folate deficiency (CFD), a condition of below normal levels of folate in the central nervous system. Folate receptor protein alpha (FRA) transports folate in the central nervous system. Dr. Quadros who tested camel’s milk stated, “folate receptor alpha antigen is very similar to cow’s milk and the immunoreactivity with the folate receptor alpha is also similar.” There is concern this is the same for camel milk. For children who produce autoantibodies to the folate receptor alpha, camel milk would be contraindicated and should be avoided.
What Does Camel Milk Taste Like?
This is one of the first questions I get when I mention camel milk. And it’s understandable… it’s a very uncommon milk. The good news is, it tastes great. It’s not strong and “goat’y” like goat milk. It’s more similar to cow milk, just not quite as “sweet” and a bit more salty. It’s not actually salty tasting, but it tastes like it has just a touch of saltiness.
My daughter enjoys it, and so do most of my clients. And for children who can’t have cow milk, they are usually happy to be able to drink camel milk.
If your child doesn’t like it or is nervous to try it, add a drop of stevia. It reminds me of leftover sweetened cereal milk.
Where To Buy Camel Milk
You can get camel milk as powder or liquid, pasteurized or raw. It depends on the quality of the source you have access to, and the health of the individual.
Let me know how camel milk works for your family.