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How Camel Milk Can Make You Forget Your Dairy Intolerance

To be honest, I was originally skeptical about the nutritional value of camel milk. My skepticism took a serious turn while I was attending an event and found myself seated beside Walid Abdul-Wahab, the man who had introduced camel milk to America.

As the event continued on, I found myself unable to fight curiosity and before I knew it, I had zoned out of the live event and into PubMed instead, trying to see if there was any real research out there regarding camel milk.

After browsing for a while, I was literally blown away by what I was reading. Poor Walid had to suffer my continuous exclaims of fascination as I read study after study and saw for the first time that camel milk had serious nutritional potential. For multiple reasons which are all discussed in detail in this article, camel milk is a great alternative for those who suffer from allergies to normal cow milk or have dairy intolerance.

Generally speaking, are dairy products good for you? The answer is not straightforward, you can read more about how dairy effects your body here.

Not only is camel milk easier to digest, but it also lacks the need to be homogenized and has been supported to aid against several diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes, and Autism.

How Different is Camel Milk from Cow Milk?

Unlike cows, camels are not ruminants. A ruminant is an animal with four stomachs. Some experts argue that camels do contain the trademark 4-compartment stomach, the stomach is just not properly defined. However, most experts agree that camels only hold a 3-compartment stomach and this makes them ineligible to be classified as a ruminant.

Camels also have toes and not hooves; therefore they are not directly related to cows. Since there is this stark distinction between the two animals, there are bound to be differences between camel milk and cow milk at the molecular level. Many studies have been conducted proving that there are several differences between the two types of milk and most of the differences amount to the fact that camel milk is more easily digestible.

Let’s examine the differences and similarities between camel milk and cow milk:

Camel Milk:

  • Does not contain A1 Casein
  • Does not contain lactoglobulin
  • Smaller Fat molecules
  • Does not require homogenization
  • Low in saturated fat
  • High in unsaturated fat

Cow Milk:

  • Most Cow Milk contains A1 Casein
  • Contains lactoglobulin
  • Larger fat molecules
  • Requires homogenization

Both Cow Milk and Camel Milk:

  • Contain lactose
  • A relatively high-fat content

Is Camel Milk a Good Alternative For People Who Suffer Lactose Intolerance?

Cow milk and camel milk both contain lactose and have a relatively high-fat content; however, there are many distinct differences between the two products. As you can see from the points above, camel milk does not contain A1 Casein and Lactoglobulin.

Apart from lactose, both these molecules are responsible for making milk harder to digest. Since these molecules are not present in camel milk, camel milk is easier to break down and has fewer chances of producing digestive problems. The fact that camel milk has smaller fat molecules means that it’s simpler to break down then cow milk and does not require homogenization.

Key Insight: Homogenization is the process through which the liquid portion of milk and the fat are blended to create less curdling. However, the milk gets oxidized in the process, which creates free radicals.

Free radicals are by-products of oxidization which are toxic to your tissues and cells. The fact that camel milk does not need to undergo homogenization makes it free of toxic by-products, unlike milk.

Another benefit of camel milk is that it is higher in unsaturated fats as opposed to saturated fats. Unsaturated fats decrease blood cholesterol and reduce chances of heart disease. Saturated fats, on the other hand, do the exact opposite. They increase blood cholesterol and increase chances of heart disease (1).To read more about how saturated fats can cause heart disease click here.

As I was reading the studies, I noticed that a few studies made it appear as if the difference in fat content between cow milk and camel milk was bigger than it actually is. We have to remember that the fat content in milk is generally portrayed in relation to its weight.

Since the weight of milk is mostly made up of water and water has no calories this doesn’t reveal the truth of how fattening milk really is. Fat content per calorie would be much more useful in informing us of how fattening milk is. Both cow milk and camel milk contain a large fat per calorie percentage, with cow milk being around 49% and camel milk being around 36%.

The Bottom Line: People who are lactose intolerant can not break down lactose because they lack the enzyme lactase. Camel milk contains lactose so it is not a suitable substitute for individuals suffering from lactose intolerance.

Nutritional Differences Between Cow Milk and Camel Milk

There are clearly several differences in the primary composition of cow milk and camel milk, but are there differences in nutrient composition? According to the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research, the answer is yes, and actually quite a few (2).

Camel milk is higher in:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Protein

Cow milk is higher in:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B2
  • Cholesterol
  • Lactose

Looking at the above differences we can see that camel milk seems to offer a better immune system boosting formula when compared to cow milk. Camel milk is higher in vitamin C which contains bacteria-fighting properties.

Camel milk is also higher in Zinc; Zinc is a micronutrient which is vital for boosting the immune response in the body (3). Cow milk contains sturdier components that are harder to break down such as cholesterol and lactose; however, cow milk does have the added benefit of providing more vitamin A which is a potent antioxidant.

Cow milk also contains more Vitamin B2 then camel milk. Vitamin B2 is a part of the Vitamin B Complex. These vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining your energy levels. If you feel lethargic or fatigued despite getting enough sleep you might want to check out this article, which highlights potential underlying causes of low energy and what you can do to feel like yourself again.

Camel Milk Is Non Allergenic

Can individuals who are allergic to cow milk, drink camel milk safely? Numerous studies have been conducted both In Vivo (in live subjects) and In Vitro (outside living organisms, such as in test tubes) which reveal that in most cases consuming camel milk will not produce an allergic reaction.

The antibodies that an allergic person creates in response to cow milk are not produced against camel milk.

The Bottom Line: People who are Dairy Intolerant react to elements of cow milk such as A1 Casein or lactoglobulin. When most allergic individuals drink camel milk their bodies do not produce antibodies because camel milk does not contain the elements present in cow milk; A1 Casein and lactoglobulin.

Can All People Who React To Cow Milk, Consume Camel Milk?

According to a paper published in Allergy Asthma Proceedings, it is highly recommended to first undergo a Skin Prick Test in order to determine if your body will react to camel milk or not (4). Researchers conducted a three-year long study on 35 children who had a very well documented medical history. The researchers then conducted Skin Prick Tests on all the children with cow milk.

All the children reacted positively to the Skin Prick Test involving cow milk, which means that they were all allergic to cow milk. When the skin prick test was done with camel milk, however, only 20% of the subjects reacted positively, whereas 80% of the subjects showed a negative Skin Prick Test result. This shows their bodies did not react allergically to camel milk as they had to cow milk.

The Bottom Line: It is safer to get tested first (with a Skin Prick Test) because if you suffer from lactose intolerance camel milk won’t make much of a difference. However, if you suffer from general dairy intolerance camel milk should be fine.

What Medicinal Benefits Does Camel Milk Have?

There have been many studies which reveal that camel milk is beneficial in aiding in the treatment of various diseases which include: Diabetes, Cancer, and Autism among others. However, the therapeutic effects of camel milk are still unclear due to the limited nature of these studies.

There was a very comprehensive review paper published in The Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The article revealed that out of a total of roughly 430 studies, 24 studies had been conducted on the medicinal benefits of camel milk.

The review paper concluded that camel milk did aid in improving certain health conditions such as Cancer, Diabetes, and Autism. However, the results should be taken with a grain of salt because the studies themselves suffered methodological limitations such as a small number of participants or even missing control groups (5). However, not all the studies were flawed. There were still other sound studies which showed promising results. Let’s take a look at these exciting studies.

1.Camel Milk For Treating Diabetes

There is a promising research regarding the therapeutic effects of camel milk on patients with Diabetes. A study was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in which 54 patients with type 1 Diabetes were assessed over a period of 16 weeks.

The patients were split into two groups. One group continued their regular treatment, whereas the second group consumed camel milk alongside their typical treatment. Amazingly, the group that consumed the additional camel milk showed significantly higher C-peptide in their blood (6).

Elevated levels of C-peptide are a good indication of elevated levels of insulin production. This means that diabetic individuals who consumed camel milk alongside their regular treatment were able to produce more insulin which improved their diabetic symptoms, which is great!

2.Camel Milk For Autism

Autism is another condition which has the potential for improvement with the consumption of camel milk. Autistic children generally have significant amounts of, hold your breath; thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (henceforth referred to as TARC), in their blood.

The methodology behind how TARC plays a role in autism is not relevant here so we won’t dwell on it, but what is relevant is that TARC is present in greater amounts in children with autism and that TARC increases with the severity of autism (7). A promising study published in Pediatric Research revealed that consuming camel milk for only two weeks significantly reduced the levels of TARC in autistic children (8).

Another exciting study links camel milk to being a potential aid in improving the behavioral effects of autism. The researchers conducted a double-blind study with 65 children to determine if consuming camel milk would improve their autistic behavior. The children were divided into two groups, one group consumed camel milk while the other group drank a placebo drink.

Their behaviors were measured after two weeks of consumption with reliable scales including the CARS scale. Astonishingly, the researchers found that the children that consumed camel milk had a significant improvement in their behavior whereas the placebo group remained the same (9).

The fact that the study was a double-blind design, in which neither the researchers nor the children knew what group they were assigned to increases the validity of this study and gives us hope that camel milk really may have legitimate therapeutic benefits for individuals suffering from autism.

3. Camel Milk For Treating Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can be quite severe at times and occasionally fail to respond to conventional medication. Allergies can be seasonal or caused in reaction to a particular substance. If you want more insight into the causes of seasonal allergies you can listen to my podcast here.

According to one study, camel milk has been shown to reduce the occurrence of all allergic reactions. This study discusses the amelioration of allergic reactions that occur when one consumes camel milk.

The researchers prescribed camel milk to eight children who had severe allergies to various substances but had failed to respond to conventional treatments. All eight children were monitored and over a short period, it was reported that they allegedly made a full recovery from their allergies (10).

Of course, there are flaws in the design of this experiment starting with the small sample size, but the results are very encouraging and more research should definitely be done to support these claims.

4. Camel Milk For Treating Cancer

Camel milk doesn’t stop there. You will be more surprised to learn the potentially anticarcinogenic properties it contains. Camel milk contains proteins such as Lactoferrin which have the potential to lower the risk of getting cancer; especially cancer of the colorectum and breast cancer.

While we’re on the topic of breast cancer, it was previously established that chances of contracting breast cancer increase if estrogen is taken. Many women were avoiding taking estrogen despite medical need. This claim has been refuted, however, and it has been proven that estrogen actually decreases the risk of cancer. You can read more about the estrogen misconception here.

A relatively recent study revealed that lyophilized, or freeze-dried camel milk may actually kill cancer cells specific to breast cancer by finding an alternative pathway to destroy the cancerous cells. The study revealed that after 72 hours of consumption, the camel milk successfully suppressed cancerous Hep-2 and BT-474 cells (11).

Another study showed that the lactoferrin protein which is the primary iron-binding protein in milk is actually able to prevent the increase or proliferation of colorectal cancer cells (12). Lactoferrin can do this by damaging the DNA of the cancerous cells and also by exhibiting antioxidant properties.

Does the ability of camel milk to kill certain cancer cells sound too good to be true? There is a small catch here. Both the studies were In-Vitro. In the In-Vitro studies, camel milk was placed alongside cancerous cells and observed in a controlled environment. What is lost in the In-Vitro studies is the extrapolation of what occurs in the body during and after the battle between cancer cells and camel milk.

Despite the varying conditions of the subjects, In-Vivo studies are also more reliable(13). If In-Vivo studies are conducted of this nature, then we can gain confidence in the anti-carcinogenic properties of camel milk.

The Bottom Line: There is positive research out there concerning camel milk. Camel milk seems to aid against many diseases such as; Diabetes, Autism, Allergies, and Cancer. More research is strongly recommended to verify the results!

How Does Camel Milk Taste?

Amusingly, I had the liberty of tasting this wonder drink myself and have to say that it’s challenging to tell the difference between cow milk and camel milk. I don’t really drink cow milk on a daily basis, but if I were to focus and try to differentiate between the two, honestly I would say that perhaps camel milk is a little saltier than cow milk.

You can try it yourself for free and see what you think.  USE COUPON CODE – DR.C

But to be honest, if someone were to place two glasses in front of me asking me to differentiate between the two I don’t think I would be able to make a distinction!

Should I Drink Camel Milk Raw or Pasteurized?

There are published studies warning against the presence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in camels. Camels are also more susceptible to certain types of bacterial pathogens (14) including:

  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Mycobacterium spp
  • Clostridium spp
  • Pasteurella spp
  • Salmonella spp
  • Brucella spp.3

Apart from the fact that raw milk may contain bacterial pathogens, the selling of camel milk is unregulated across borders and violates the USDA recommendation for safety.

The Bottom Line: I would suggest that you buy pasteurized camel milk since there is no system for quality control when purchasing raw camel milk.

Cost Difference

Think of camel milk more like colostrum or liquid probiotic supplements. The pricing is reasonable as a gut-repair agent but would not be practical for use as much of it as many consumers use of cow milk or other milk substitutes. A serving of camel milk is around 4-6$ more expensive than cow milk. If you want a cost-effective method of purchasing camel milk, you may want to try buying larger amounts of powdered milk. I know what you’re thinking, the taste won’t be as good as the liquid version.

I remember when I was younger sometimes we would have to drink powdered milk because it was more economical and I haven’t forgotten the taste until today! Powdered camel milk won’t necessarily have as big of a taste difference in its powdered form because it has smaller fat molecules. The smaller fat molecules mean less oxidation and in turn better texture and retention of nutrients and flavor.

So What’s The Conclusion?

Camel milk may not have entirely proven therapeutic value, but it does seem to have positive health benefits that aid in the treatment of many major health issues such as Diabetes, Autism, Allergies, and Cancer. The mere fact that camels are not ruminants whereas cows are, brings to attention the difference we should expect to find in their milk composition.

Among the biggest benefits of camel milk is that camels have milk that is more easily digestible, non-allergenic and contains smaller fat molecules so it does not need to be homogenized. Camel milk is more expensive and may not be as readily available as cow milk. However, if you miss drinking milk due to your allergies or dairy intolerance, camel milk is definitely a safe option which offers additional health benefits, and the best part is it almost tastes the same!

If you’d like to try camel milk yourself, Walid offered a special free trial just for my readers if you just help him cover shipping costs. Go here to learn moreUSE COUPON CODE – DR.C

Your diet controls all aspects of your life and directly affects your health. If you want a better picture of your overall health please consider taking the Thyroid Quiz, you can never know too much about your own body!

dr-c-pic

Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.

Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, cure diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.