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Several years ago I was at a conference, and during one of the breaks, I noticed they had camel milk as one of the refreshments on hand (along with water, coffee, kombucha, and paleo snacks).
I was slightly taken aback, as I can count on one hand the number of actual camels I’ve seen in my lifetime (only at the zoo), and the thought of drinking camel milk had never crossed my mind before seeing the bottles they had at the refreshment stand that day.
So of course, I had to research it to find out about any potential health benefits. And what I found out is VERY interesting!
Camel milk is unique in its potential ability to help with allergies and autism, to mitigate autoimmune disease and diabetes, and for heart and immune health. It has even been used around the world as a supplement to breastmilk!
I thought so too, but it turns out that the milk from a camel is an entirely different animal (pun intended) than milk from a cow or a goat.
Cows, goats, and other similar animals are hoofed animals. Camels have toes (only two, made of a single bone) and both their foot structure and the proteins in their milk are dramatically different than milk from hoofed animals.
To make things slightly more confusing, camels ruminate but are not considered ruminants. As unique as camels are, their milk is even more so.
What Makes Camel Milk Different?
I started researching this and was absolutely fascinated by the research on camel milk and how it is different from other types of milk.
For one thing, camel milk does not contain the same proteins that people are often allergic to in cow’s milk. It does not contain A1 casein and lactoglobulin and is usually well tolerated by those with dairy allergies.
Gram for gram, it has about the same amount of protein and carbohydrates as regular cows milk, but impacts blood sugar differently.
This is one area where camel and cow milk differ greatly. Camels produce milk that is naturally low in fat (only 2-3%).
Also unlike cow milk, the fats produced by camels in their milk are completely homogenized naturally occurring Omega-3 fatty acids. This means that camel milk can be frozen and thawed without changing consistency. It also will not curdle or clot like cows milk.
- Camels produce a very unique milk that has some rare beneficial properties. For one thing, it is high in potent immunoglobulins, powerful immune-boosting substances. The immunoglobulins in camel milk are smaller than human immunoglobulins and can more easily pass into tissues in the body.
- Researchers still don’t completely understand why, but these tiny immunoglobulins may be the reason for camel milk’s popularity in helping lessen problems like autoimmune disease, allergies, and even autism.
- This milk is also high in insulin, which improves its absorption and makes it suitable for diabetics.
- Research has also found protective proteins in camel’s milk that may be antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial.
- Though it isn’t a spectacular source, it also contains much more iron and vitamin c than cow’s milk.
Similar to Human Breastmilk
Camel milk is nutritionally more similar to human breastmilk than to regular dairy milk. For this reason, it has been used around the world as a supplement or replacement for breast milk in cases when mom was unable to nurse or baby needed extra milk.
Better for the Environment
Consider the natural habitat of camels. They survive with relatively little water and plant life for long periods of time. For this reason, camels need much less grazing area and can produce milk with a lower environmental impact.
Long History of Use
While the idea of drinking milk from a camel may seem strange to those of us who grew up in the west, cultures around the world have consumed it for thousands of years.
Camels are important to various cultures, especially in the middle east, for their ability to survive and even travel long distances with very little water. Camels can thrive even in areas where horses and cows would have trouble surviving at all.
Benefits of Camel Milk
These unique properties of camels make their milk beneficial to humans in several ways. In researching, I was amazed at the initial studies and anecdotal reports from people who had seen near miraculous recoveries with camel milk.
Help for Diabetes
Studies show that camel’s milk may be very beneficial for those with diabetes. Unlike other kinds of milk, it shouldn’t cause a rise in blood sugar, but the benefits extend beyond that. In fact, some researchers are even using this milk to reduce the amount of insulin needed:
Camel milk has been shown, said the review’s senior author, Dr Uma S Dubey, of BITS Pilani’s Rajasthan campus, to be effective in reducing the level of glycosylated or glycated haemoglobin in the blood. This is haemoglobin to which glucose is attached, and is typically found at high levels in people with diabetes. Camel milk can therefore be used to reduce the dose of insulin that diabetes patients require.
The same review article, published in the Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, entitled Therapeutic Potential of Camel Milk, by researchers from India’s Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, notes that there are also much lower rates of diabetes in areas where camel milk is a staple.
Another 2005 study out of India looked at camel dairy and its effects on Type 1 diabetes. This study found that regular consumption of camel milk reduced the amount of insulin needed and improved long-term blood sugar control.
Camel’s milk contains many of the same immune-protecting substances as human milk. It can be an effective supplement to breastmilk for this reason.
It contains high levels of immunoglobulin A and beneficial enzymes like lysozyme and lactoperoxidase, which are helpful to the body in fighting infection.
Perhaps the most notable potential benefit of this unique milk is its effect in those with allergies.
Not only is it considered a good dairy alternative for allergic individuals, but there is some research indicating that it may actually help reverse allergies.
Surprised? I was too:
As I mentioned, this milk lacks A1 casein and lactoglobulin present in cow’s milk which often cause allergic reactions. There have also been studies showing that camel milk may even reduce allergies due to its immune benefits.
In fact, one 2005 study in the Journal of the Israel Medical Association investigated the effects of camel milk on children with severe allergies who didn’t respond to other treatments. Researchers had these children consume camel milk under the care of their medical team. They observed the results, which were even more astounding than expected.
Amazingly, all of the children recovered from their allergies according to the reports in the study. Additional study is needed, but the researchers in that study claimed that camel milk was more effective than medical treatments in those particular cases with no observed side effects.
This shows tremendous potential as a hope for those struggling with life-threatening allergies.
Heart and Blood Health
The monounsaturated fats (especially oleic acid) present in camel milk give it some of the same benefits as olive oil. It also contains A2 beta-casein, which is different than the A1 casein found in most dairy milk. (A2 casein is present in goat milk as well, which is why some people who cannot handle cow dairy can handle goat-based products.)
The A2 beta-casein in camel milk may be partially responsible for the heart and immune protective effects. From Live Science:
A1 beta casein is broken down into an opioid-like peptide called beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7). BCM-7 has been shown to suppress the immune system, cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to arterial plague formation, according to Lori Chong, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It has been implicated in the development of Type 1 diabetes — probably related to its immune suppression and role in GI tract inflammation.”
Other research indicates that the unique fatty acid profile in milk from camels is more beneficial to the heart and to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence and stories from people who have used camel dairy in cases of autism.
This article delves into the potential ways that camel dairy products may help against autism. In short, some researchers believe that autism is similar to autoimmune disease in that the body attacks its own healthy cells.
Whatever the cause, there are many anecdotal accounts of recovery and entire online groups dedicated to its use.
“Dr. Jodie Dashore, a mom and doctor, heard about the milk from Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, a highly regarded neurobiologist who treated her son Brian’s autism. In 2011, when Brian started consuming camel milk, his motor tics initially became three or four times worse—a “healing crisis,” Dashore says, as the milk killed off harmful bacteria. But after two weeks, they started to drop off. The milk also seemed to clear up a host of Brian’s other maladies, from hives to mobility difficulties, caused by an autoimmune disorder (most autism patients have other simultaneous ailments according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). It also eased Brian’s digestive pains and helped him gain weight, common issues in autistic children.
Other reports are equally amazing. A 2005 study in the International Journal of Human Development watched autistic patients who started consuming camel dairy instead of cow dairy and found:
- A 4-year-old girl noticed a complete disappearance of autism symptoms in 40 days
- A 15-year-old boy noticed recovery after only a month
- Multiple other patients were noticeably better after only two weeks
Of course, much more research is needed to understand the way that camel dairy products may help with autism, but the initial evidence is definitely encouraging.
Autoimmune Disease Help
As mentioned, there are researchers that believe that autism is similar to autoimmune disease. This connection may also be why some people have seen improvement from autoimmunity with camel milk.
It is generally understood that autoimmune disease is a scenario in which the immune system mistakenly attacks part of the body, thinking that healthy cells are foreign or harmful antigens. Conventional treatments for autoimmune disease often include immune-suppressing drugs that have substantial side effects.
Camel dairy, on the other hand, contains those potent but tiny immunoglobulins that may penetrate cells and help improve the immune system while targeting only harmful antigens.
In fact, Dr. Reuven Yagil, an Israeli physiology professor who is considered an expert on Camel milk and its benefits, explains that in his years of research he has seen patients control or even reverse autoimmune disease with camel milk.
On a personal note, this was how I found research on the benefits of camel milk and I am personally testing it for my own Hashimotos (I’ll update you with the results).
Risks and Dangers of Camel Milk?
Often, something that seems too good to be true really is. In this case, I’m yet to find the downside. As I said, more research is needed, but I couldn’t find any downsides of drinking this unusual milk.
In fact, I didn’t find any cases of allergic reactions or harmful side effects. In my limited personal testing, I haven’t noticed any negative effects, even though I often react to regular dairy.
The one downside, unfortunately, is the price. As you may imagine, camel dairies are not very popular in this part of the world, and limited access means higher costs.
Where to Get Camel Milk
You won’t find camel milk on the dairy aisle of a regular grocery store. Some health food stores are starting to carry it, but it can be difficult to find a good source.
Since this milk is not from a hoofed animal, it isn’t regulated by the same laws, and it is available online and can be shipped in many places.
The best (and least expensive) source I’ve found for camel milk is the Desert Farms brand which is available for shipping anywhere in the continental US and Canada. In fact, after researching camel milk and where to purchase it, I negotiated a 15% discount from them (code: MAMACAMEL) and am personally testing this for my own autoimmune disease. A friend is also testing for her child with severe allergies.
What does it taste like?
I found the taste closest to cow’s milk to any alternative milk I’ve tried. It is a little sweeter but not overly earthy or grassy like stronger-flavored goat milk.
My kids all liked it, even the ones who don’t prefer coconut or almond milk.
If you are curious and would like to try camel milk, Desert Farms has offered to send you four bottles for free! You simply pay the shipping and handling fee. Find their free offer here.
Camel Milk: Bottom Line
This “new” milk to us in the western world has been used for thousands of years in other parts of the world. Camels are unique animals and have unique milk that may benefit diabetics, autistic patients, and those with autoimmune disease.
I was also unable to find any negative side effects of camel milk (other than the price) and am willing to become my own guinea pig to test its benefits (or lack thereof).
Your turn! Have you ever heard of camel milk? Grossed out or intrigued?
Discussion (177 Comments)
I’m disappointed that youre promoting another animal milk. I’ve learned of the heartbreaking cruelty of cows being mated to keep them producing milk and them having their brand new calves dragged from them and taken to slaughter because once their milk comes in, the calf is surplus to requirements. This happens on a huge scale with dairy cows and now goats too. The last thing the world needs is another poor animal that becomes the latest health fad and suffers at the hands of being a mass produced commodity. I’ve always followed your posts but this made me very sad.
I agree with you. That is exactly what I thought when I read this!
Just my opinion, but “the masses” don’t generally mass produce ANYTHING that contributes to superior health. More interested in the profits of junk food, unhealthy processed fad diet food/supplements, and rx drugs/vaccines. Plus, the expense alone of mass producing camels is unbelievable. The milking process is quite different which contributes to the expense. If what youre saying were to happen, yes this would be a tradegy, but I don’t believe the camels are in danger.
You are wrong. My friends run a small camel dairy in south Australia, their camels are only milked once a day, their calves stay on the mothers and become part of the herd, and mating is left to the camels, as in the wild. Couldn’t be better for the camels! They live on a lovely large desert farm, have access to water always, feed organically and live ling healthy lives. A dairy cow only lives 4 years, a dairy camel lives 40! How very wrong you are. I suggest you get the facts before slagging a very ethical industry.
Dairy cattle live as long as any other cattle. Upwards of twenty years. Most are overworked and sent to slaughter under 5 yrs, you are correct there. But I’m guessing if camel dairy and meat was as popular as beef and cow’s dairy, they would have shorter expected life spans too. Cows can live to 20, but they cease to be useful before then so they are slaughtered.
Ultimately it is up to the farm owners, I would hope that the small ethical camel dairies around the world maintain their integrity and ethics. So far they have. It’s only when greed and companies that are too big for their boots come along that things go wrong. Lots and lots of small ethical camel dairies would continue to provide a top quality product as opposed to one mega dairy. I know for sure that my friends who run the South Australian camel dairy are working with the dairy authority to ensure this and to ensure that raw camel milk is made available (which can only be produced in small and controlled environments). The cow milk industry has become an industry which is unethical and greedy, treats farmers poorly, turns the milk into a disgusting product and treats the animals badly. Yes. But do not make the mistake of applying this same tag to the camel milk industry which at this point in time is run by ethical and small scale farmers with health and healing as their number one drive. Camel milk is a nutritional therapy doing wonders for many…and if the right people remain in control, claims of cruelty, rape and slaughter are fears that are negated. I am so impressed with my friends’ efforts at Humpalicious Camel Farm…here’s an example of ethical operators:
*Small solar and wind powered dairy
*The camels roam on hundreds of acres of natural and organic desert pasture
*Have free access to water
*Are not fed anything GMO
*Are not fed GRAIN
*Are only milked once a day
*Mother and calves remain together
*Mating is a natural process dictated by the camels themselves
*Life expectancy of a milking camel on humpalicious camel farm is 40 years.
This little dairy is gaining such a reputation for their ethics and superior milk that people are coming from far and wide to visit the farm and the camels…which the owners allow, because it is a camel paradise with nothing to hide.
The point being that stereotypes and labels are damaging and there are people out there working in a symbiotic manner with animals to produce something that can help many. If my friends have anything to do with it, camel milk will NEVER be a high temp pasteurised, homogenised, fortified poisonous product.
Where can I buy your friends milk? I’m in SA and just learning about camel milk now. Thanks
I am always open to correction but I respectfully suggest your facts could also do with a little checking Arthur. Having been a mother who breast fed, I never felt I had enough milk for my child so being “milked” is not necessarily stress free for the animals or without consequence for the offspring, regardless of the setting. However, my point was that whenever anything gains popularity, the animal’s welfare is sacraficed for the financial gain of the consumer demand and you are naive if you don’t believe this is the case. The milk of other animals is not designed for human consumption – it is designed for the young of the animal that produces it. And with all due respect, your friends camel dairy does not make the entire industry ethical.
Thank you for writing this, Calico. Wellness Mama: if you respect real mamahood you’ll heed (and I hope you won’t delete) this kindness-infused comment.
Nice back-handed slap with the “kindness-infused” thrown in to make you less arrogant. Katie does not deserve this bs, as she is also in the experimental stages with what she is drinking. If you don’t like what Katie has written, go elsewhere, These idiotic comments about “take heed” “I am disappointed” is rubbish. This is her website, her blog and as she said she is experimenting. Do you need to be heard so much that you need to hijack Katie’s post. She has always kept people informed of what is out there, and not actually shoving it down your throat so try to detach rather than coming out with tripe based on your emotional state at that given time.
I wonder if you are targetting every single site that recommends the benefits of camel milk, or have you chosen Katie because she is an easy target to you?
Australia has a camel dairy in Gympie Qld and one opening soon in Armidale NSW. Both selling it for $15 litre.
Victoria has several too.
Camel babies at Armidale are only separated from their mothers for limited hours twice a day and the rest of the time live as a happy family herd. The babies will grow up to be milkers, weed eaters, pets and ride camels.
I think it might be worth the separation of some calfs if some children can escape the painful effects of autism or severe allergies!
Amen! I agree Bonnie. I love animals but I love children more.
So if this milk helps children defeat autism we shouldn’t use it cause your worries are about the camel… make sense
Lucy, I live in San Diego and am interested in researching the local source you mentioned. Do you have more information you can share? Thank you!
Also, for those searching for other sources for raw camel milk or donkey milk they can join the face book group Healing with Camel Milk, or Donkey Milk for Health. The group’s files include farmers around the world providing milk.
For your Australian readers, there are two camel dairies in Australia: one in Qld. and one in WA. In Qld. the milk sells for $25 a litre but worth it when you realise the benefits.
There is also a south australian dairy (humpalicious) that is really creating waves for it’s ethical and superior production of camel milk, camel milk kefir and raw camel milk soap (which does NOT use palm oil). It is my friends’ dairy and they not only sell pasteurised and raw cm in Australia, but they are also working with a Hong Kong based company that is using their raw milk to research and develop a paediatric formula for autistic kids. I know their milk is being used successfully by people with Milk Protein Allergy, Lactose intolerance, autism, gut and bowel problems etc. Hope this helps.
There’s more than 6 farms in Australia. 2 in Qld, 1 in NSW, 2 in Vic, 1 or more in WA.
Here in Australia it is only possible to buy camel milk pasteurised. Do you know if the benefits are the same?
I’m wondering the same
How much camel’s milk do you have to drink each day to receive the healing health benefits? Did the studies or anticdodal stories ever mention how much was consumed? I’m not as worried about getting sick from drinking too much, but rather, it is quite expensive, so if it was known how much to consume to reach theraputic levels that would be very helpful as not to over-consume such an expensive resource.
I’ve seen most people who drink the camel milk usually only consume 4-6oz a day. So one bottle will last you a few days. It’s amazing the benefits!
Katie, I’m excited to try this!! I just want to let you know I tired using the code and it came back invalid.
Checking on it now.
Do you know how much people were consuming to receive the benefits?
Looks like it’s working for me!
Totally intriguing! Thanks for sharing! Never heard of drinking it! Though, doesn’t surprise many have been doing it for centuries. Passing this info along!
Thanks for the article! I actually did my own research a few months ago when I was watching a show and the host drank raw camels milk that was fresh from the camel. The owners of the farm in San Diego were so adamant about the health properties of it that it sparked my curiosity and I found out the same information you did! So amazing! Thanks for sharing!
Lucy, do you have the name of that farm? I live in San Diego too 🙂 Thanks! Andrea
Yes, I’d like to know as well! We’ll be in SD next month!
That farm doesn’t sell milk
Where were you that they served kombucha and paleo snacks?! Sign me up for the next conference!
Where do I use the discount code? I’m on the order summary page and there is no place to enter a code.