Healing Properties and Health Benefits of Camel Milk
When I first heard of drinking camel milk, my initial reaction was 'Ahh?' However, after spending a few years working in the Middle East, I am now familiar with the goodness of camel milk.
Dates and camel milk have been the staple foods for the Bedouin Arabs for centuries. In the harsh and arid desert country, camel milk not just replaces water in their diet, but also provide the essential nutrients.
The Bedouin Arabs believed the goodness of dates and healing properties of camel milk will keep them healthy.
They drink camel milk fresh. Sometimes, they drink it when it is slightly sour, in the fermented form as they believed that the pasteurized version may lose some of its nutritional and healing qualities.
Healing Properties of Camel Milk
Camel milk's numerous medicinal values have benefited the Bedouins for centuries. They believed the camel's diet must consist of certain plants to enhance the curative powers of camel milk. Researches have shown that even without these special plants the milk is still good for most ailments which are:
- General Well-being: The numerous nutrients in camel milk help promote the body natural defenses
- Anti-aging: Alpha hydroxyl acid that is present in camel milk help smooths fine lines
- Cancer: Camel milk has anti-tumor properties
- Diabetic: The presence of high-level of insulin-like protein in camel milk (about 52 micro units/ml) help reduce the effect of diabetes
- Liver disease: Camel milk has antiviral properties that help reduce liver inflammation. The milk also has many nutrients that are required for healthy liver function
- Autism: It is rich in immunoglobulin that will strengthen the body's autoimmune system. This help treats and heal autism
- Thalassemia: The curative properties of camel milk protect our body from oxidative injury
- Acne and Eczema: The anti-microbial properties will act as natural cleanser
- Arthritis: The lactoferrin in camel milk will remove the free iron from joints of arthritic patients
- Tuberculosis: The antibacterial and antiviral is known to destroy the mycobacterium tuberculosis
- AIDS: AIDS patients in Africa were fed with camel milk to help them recover
Many people can benefit from camel's milk healing properties. However, as with any alternative and traditional remedies, please seek your doctor's advice before starting on this camel milk program.
A Mother's Story of How She Treat her Autistic Child with Camel's Milk
When the mother learnt that her son had autism, she did everything she could including several hours of therapy, and most important of all, changing the diet.
Research Works on Healing Properties of Camel Milk
Several research works were conducted to confirm and document these benefits and some of these works are as follows:
- Camel Milk is Safe for Children: Gulf News reported that studies done by Pediatric Allergy-Immunology Clinics of the Hamad Medical Corporation showed children that are allergic to cow's milk can safely take camel's milk.
- Camel Milk's Effect on Cancer Growth Cell: Studies done by King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, and University of Alberta, Canada showed successful applications of camel milk for cancer treatment.
- Effect of Camel Milk on Autism: Prof. Reuven Yagil of Ben-Gurion University, Israel concluded the benefits of camel milk in treating an autistic child
- Hepatitis C Virus (HCV): Studies on the effect of camel milk on Hepatitis C Virus, showed positive results in impeding growth of HCV. This study was funded by Egyptian-Spanish joint fund and published in Virology Journal (September 2012 issue)
- Is Pasteurized Camel Milk Effective?: The Bedouins believed that only fresh camel milk is effective in healing ailments. However, studies by Dr. Millie Hinkle, of 'Camel Milk USA' showed positive results for similar ailments even with pasteurized camel milk
For more published reports and research works on the healing properties of camel milk, see 'Reference and Further Reading' section, below.
Camel Milk vs. Cow Milk
Cow's milk is easily available and cheaper but it has its side effect. One example is lactose intolerance. This is where camel milk excels.
To start with, camel's milk is known to be the closest to human mother's milk and it is easier even for baby to consume. Research studies from around the world also confirmed camel's milk as highly nutritious and has many unique and amazing properties as compared to cow's milk.
The composition of whey proteins and caseins in camel's milk differs from cow’s milk, which could be the reasons for its healing properties.
Other differences are:
- Lactose: Lower in camel milk, hence easier for someone who cannot drink cow's milk
- Potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and sodium: Higher in camel milk
- Cholesterol: Lower in camel milk
- Vitamin C: Three times higher in camel milk
- Iron: Ten times higher in camel milk
- Unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins: Higher in camel milk
- Vitamin A and B2: Higher in cow milk
- Protein: Higher in camel milk
- Antibacterial and antiviral properties: Ten times higher in camel's milk
- Easily Absorb: Camel's milk doesn't coagulate easily even in an acid environment such as in our stomach. Hence, it is easily absorbed by our digestive system
- Dissolves Better: Camel milk in powder form will dissolve better
- Yield: Camel produces lower yield at 13 pints (6.2 liter) as compared to cow at 50 pints (23.7 liter)
With these benefits, camel milk does have its advantages. However, its scarcity makes it more expensive than cow's milk.
Camel Milk the Healthiest Animal Milk
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ranked camel's milk as the healthiest animal milk
How Does Camel Milk Taste Like?
In 2007, I had my first taste of camel's milk, freshly milked from a camel's farm in Dubai. It was fresh and warm and it smelled strong. It was also mildly salty. My stomach was not used to this milk and I had diarrhea for the next two days. Maybe I should have drunk it slowly to allow my stomach to digest. However, my Arab friend reassured me that this is a normal reaction for first timer, as it 'cleanses the system'.
Camel's milk taste varies according to the camel's diet and the amount of water it had drunk. Some say it is mildly sweet like in low fat cow's milk. Others say it tastes like salty vanilla flavored milk.
Unlike cow's milk, camel's milk is opaque white in color.
I have not tried the fermented camel milk and I don't think my stomach is strong enough for that. However, this form of camel milk is commonly consumed by the traveling Bedouins.
Camel Milk Products
Besides consuming camel milk fresh or in fermented form, the followings are other camel milk products that are available, albeit in limited quantity.
The Bedouins and the camel herding tribes will turn excess camel milk into camel cheese. As camel milk does not coagulate easily, the usual method of using rennet does not work. It is instead made through a process known as lactic fermentation, where milk sugar is decomposed into lactic acid, which makes the milk sour. The cheese that you get, do not taste the same as what you are used to.
However, under the auspices of United Nation's FAO research work, camel milk can now coagulate using vegetable rennet and calcium phosphate. The end product is a low cholesterol cheese. Due to limited production, sale of camel cheese is small quantity.
Butter from Camel Milk
Just like cheese, butter from camel milk is not easy to produce due to poor coagulation process and the longer time taken. However, some farms are able to come out with a preparation process that churns out decent camel milk butter. Again, this is in limited quantity and more expensive than other butters.
Camel Milk Ice-Cream and Chocolate
Chocolate and coffee flavored camel milk, ice-cream and chocolates from camel milk are now available for all to enjoy.
Recently, Al Ain Dairy from the UAE launched their ice cream made from fresh camel milk, which is suitable for people with lactose intolerance. it comes in chocolate, cardamom, saffron and the all-time favorite, vanilla flavors.
Soap from Camel Milk
Camel milk soap is very popular in the Middle Eastern countries as it is claimed to be good for people with eczema.
However, camel milk soap is not 100% camel's milk. In most cases, it is only 25%.
Other ingredients that are added to the soap are fats. Buy those that do not use animal fat, but natural vegetable oil such as olive oil.
If you prefer scented camel milk soap, there are brands that sell lavender, sweet rose, peppermint and other essential oils scented soap.
Muhallabia, Middle Eastern Dessert made with Camel Milk
Muhallabia is a Middle Eastern milk pudding with pistachio or almonds sprinkled on top of the pudding. Normally made using cow milk, it can also be made with ground rice.
For a change, some families replaced cow milk with camel milk and it is said to be creamier and tastier.
Where to Buy Camel Milk
If you live in the Middle East, parts of Africa, China, Russia or northern part of the Indian subcontinent, buying fresh camel milk is not a problem. In some of these countries, you can even buy them at supermarket.
If you live outside these countries or where camel rearing, is non-existent or in small numbers, the best bet is to buy powdered camel milk online. You can do this through Amazon.com
Alternatively, buy camel milk in capsule form, which is more convenient and can be taken with you to work or whenever you are away from your home. This is also available from Amazon.com
Camel Milk to Raise Economic Standard
United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognized camel milk as an important commodity to raise the economic standard for people that lived in the arid and semi-arid desert area. It will be marketed and sold based on its nutritional and health benefits. This will bring in additional income to these people.
Camel Milk Production in Non-Traditional Camel Rearing Countries
The followings are some examples of camel farming in the non-traditional camel producing countries, to show the growing importance of camel milk.
Sales of Camel Milk in the USA
It was illegal to sell or even produce camel milk in the USA and it was only in 2009 that the Food and Drug Administration 'legalized' the domestic production and consumption of camel milk. In 2012, the FDA finally gave approval for camel milk to be sold throughout the US.
Since production cost for camel milk is still expensive for the American camel breeders, current sales are limited to medical usage and as food for ethnic residents.
Camel Farm in Netherlands
Camel Farming in Netherlands
After his university research on the commercial viability of camel milk, Frank Smits was convinced that he should venture into this unknown territory. In 2006, he started the first and only commercial camel farm in Netherlands and Europe and now exports camel milk to Britain and Belgium.
Camel Research Center in India
To help improve the socio-economic status for people in the arid and semi-arid zone, the Indian government established The National Research Center on Camels in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. Camel was identified as an important animal for this harsh and fragile desert eco-system and researches were conducted to help both camel and camel owners to improve their economic status.
Part of the program is the production of camel milk to be sold at subsidized rate to poor families with diabetic patient or children with disabilities
Camel Industry in Australia
Camels were imported into Australia as early as 1860s and were mainly used as working camels in the semi-arid desert areas. Now, camels are reared for its milk and meat. With increased in demand for camel meat and milk in Asia and parts of the Middle East, Australia now export most of its supply of camel products.
Will You Try Camel Milk?
Several studies on the healing properties of camel milk by reputable universities and institutions have led to its higher level of acceptance outside the traditional camel rearing communities.
What about you? Would you try camel milk if you know you suffer from the above ailments?
One Aussie girl gave it a try to see if it helps her bowel problem. Read her experience her on Yahoo News.
Camel Milk Production
References and Further Reading
- Camel Milk USA and Dr. Millie Hinkle
- Camel milk for food allergies in children
- Insulin in Camel Milk
- Camel Milk and Diabetes
- Autism and Camel Milk
- Antibody–based therapeutics
- Israel Journal of Veterinary Medicine: Therapeutic value of camel milk in tuberculosis
- Camel milk and toxic effect of aluminum
© 2013 Mazlan
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