Camel milk is rich in nutrients, including proteins and good fats. Its total protein content is more than that of milk from other sources. This could be one reason it may help reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer (1).
Though camel milk is also available as powder and soap, its health benefits can be enjoyed the best only when consumed as milk.
In this post, we will look at how camel milk may benefit you. We will also discuss its nutritional profile and how it compares with the much-popular cow milk.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Camel Milk?
Camel milk is known for its anti-diabetic property. It may also prevent bacterial and viral infections. Making it a part of your diet may improve your immunity and protect against chronic disorders and cancer.
1. May Protect Your Liver
The nutrients in camel milk may help fight viruses that cause liver disease.
In studies, camel milk was found to be effective in decreasing the elevated levels of certain liver enzymes, which is a sign of improvement of liver health (2). It also increases the levels of total body proteins, which are depleted during liver disease (2).
In another study, whole camel milk was found to be effective against hepatitis C virus. The use of the milk has been recommended in patients infected with the virus. However, the efficacy of camel milk in this regard needs further research (3).
It controls the levels of liver enzymes (alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST)). Camel milk reduced hepatitis viral load in 75% of the patients (3).
Camel milk supplementation, along with a controlled antiviral drug regimen, was found to have strong antiviral activity against hepatitis B and C viruses (3).
2. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
Camel milk may help regulate blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.
Experimental research and human studies show that camel milk can help improve blood sugar control. It can also reduce fasting blood sugar levels, decrease insulin resistance, and improve cholesterol levels in those with diabetes (4).
In most of the human studies, the recommended dose of camel milk for those with diabetes was 500 mL per day (4).
In an experiment, diabetes-induced rats were fed camel milk for 30 days. The results showed a significant reduction in the levels of blood glucose, urea, uric acid, and creatinine in these rats. Their liver and lipid parameters were also close to healthy controls (5).
Human subjects with juvenile diabetes showed a similar response. Camel milk had reduced blood sugar and HbA1C levels in the subjects (5). HbA1C is also known as glycated hemoglobin, and an increase in its levels elevates the risk of diabetes.
3. May Aid Cancer Treatment
Camel milk can induce cancer cell death, and this may aid cancer treatment.
In studies, camel milk stopped the spread of cancerous cells in human colorectal and breast cancer cell lines. It could achieve this by altering the expression of genes involved in the growth and metastasis (spreading) of tumors (6).
As per clinical data, camel milk proved to be effective against human cancer cells of the breast, larynx, and colon-rectum. Vitamins E and C, proteins like lysozyme and lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins play a critical role in cancer prevention (6).
This milk induces cell death and DNA damage in cancerous cells by triggering corresponding cellular mechanisms (6). However, more studies are warranted to confirm the findings.
4. May Improve Kidney Health
Camel milk was found to protect kidneys from an antibiotic overdose in rat studies. The antibiotic, called Gentamicin, is known to exert nephrotoxic (damaging to the kidneys) effects (7).
5. May Help Improve Symptoms Of Autism
Camel milk may help fight oxidative stress, which was found to cause some of the serious symptoms of autism.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a severe neurological disorder. It commonly sets in before the age of three. It is characterized by impairment in communication and cognitive and social behavior (8).
Research holds oxidative stress responsible for these issues. An increase in the levels of free radicals has shown to worsen autism and Alzheimer’s. Studies show that most individuals with autism have low levels of antioxidants (8).
A 4-year-old girl was fed camel milk for 40 days. Her autism symptoms were reported to disappear gradually. Another 15-year old boy showed similar results post a 30-day camel milk treatment. These patients were also observed to be quieter and less self-destructive after consuming camel milk (9).
6. May Combat Microbial Infections
The various proteins in camel milk can help fight several forms of bacteria.
In rat studies, camel milk was found to have antibacterial effects against E. coli and S. aureus. It also could improve antioxidant status, which was otherwise reduced by the pathogens (10).
With its abundant protein content, camel milk can reduce the bacterial count in your blood. It has microbe-killing enzymes like lysozyme, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase (10).
Camel milk proteins are similar to the ones you find in human saliva, tears, sweat, mucosal membranes, and milk. They limit the supply of nutrients essential for bacterial growth (10).
It has been found that regular use (almost overuse) of antibiotics may make several microbial strains resistant to medication. Pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Escherichia coli, and rotavirus could become immune to most antibiotic treatments. Hence, infections caused by them turn chronic within no time.
Supplementing antibiotics with camel milk may help eliminate several drug-resistant microbial strains from your body (10).
7. May Treat Disorders Of The Gastrointestinal Tract
Camel milk contains high levels of vitamins A, B, C, and E, magnesium, and zinc. They protect your gut from infections and oxidative stress.
Camel milk appeared to strengthen the mucosal barrier. It also showed strong ulcer-healing effects. The gastroprotective property of camel milk needs further investigation to understand the actual compounds that are responsible for these effects (11).
8. May Soothe Allergies
Camel milk has a slightly different chemical makeup when compared to cow milk. Hence, it does not trigger lactose intolerance-related symptoms (12).
In studies, it also appears that camel milk has a positive effect on children with severe food allergies. This milk has immunoglobulins, unique proteins of the immune system. These immunoglobulins (a.k.a antibodies) interact with the allergens in your body. They neutralize the allergens and help treat allergies (9).
In another study, children with food allergies were given doses of camel milk. All 8 of them reacted well and recovered fully from their respective allergies. However, large-scale clinical trials are needed to validate these findings (13).
9. May Help Treat Autoimmune Diseases
Camel milk was found to reduce the levels of globulins, which are a part of a total protein in the human body. Elevated globulin levels were linked to autoimmune diseases, like ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, among others (2).
The milk also contains alpha-hydroxyl acids that are known to treat autoimmune skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema (14).
Apart from the minerals and proteins we discussed, camel milk contains other nutrients that promote overall health. The following nutritional table can give you more reasons to start having camel milk.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Camel Milk?
Camel milk has (9):
- Protein: 3.1%
- Fat: 3.5%
- Lactose: 4.4%
- Ash: 0.79%
- Total solids: 11.9%
Camel milk contains most of the amino acids in fair amounts. Its proteins can be divided into two groups: caseins and whey proteins. Albumin, lactoferrin, immunoglobulins come under the whey group (9).
This milk contains low amounts of short-chain fatty acids but high amounts of long-chain fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids like linoleic acid are abundant, which is why camel milk has a better health quotient (9).
It also contains vitamins, such as vitamins A, E, D, B, and especially vitamin C, which cow and buffalo milk might lack. Minerals like calcium also appear to be relatively higher (9).
This nutritional profile is not the only reason you need to consider replacing your other milk options with camel milk. In the following section, we will explore what makes camel milk so popular and how it is different from the all-time favorite, cow milk.
Why Is Camel Milk Popular? How Is It Different From Cow Milk?
The world is witnessing a sudden interest in camel milk. This is because research has proven the nutritional benefits of this milk. Camel milk has shown powerful antimicrobial effects (1).
Camel milk is a white, opaque liquid with a faint sweetish odor. It is low in fat when compared to cow milk but tastes similar – maybe a little saltier (as it contains more potassium and sodium than cow milk).
This milk has ingredients like immunoglobulins, vitamins B and C, potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, iron, and abundant proteins. It is said to have an insulin-like protein, which gives it an anti-diabetic property. It also contains a higher proportion of zinc than other sources of milk. The immunoglobulins in camel milk may boost your immunity (1).
Interestingly, camel milk gets digested easily than cow, buffalo, and goat milk (1). Hence, it may suit even those with lactose intolerance. It contains slightly less lactose than cow milk (cow’s milk contains 4.8% lactose) (15).
Isn’t that surprising? This, probably, is the reason behind its popularity.
Procuring camel milk is a challenge for legal reasons. The U.S. FDA had issued a warning letter to an online seller of camel milk (16). Though you can buy camel milk online, looking at the statements made by the US FDA, we suggest you be wary of the claims made about camel milk online or otherwise.
Though camel milk doesn’t cause allergic reactions like other types of milk, it may have certain other downsides. We will look at them in the following section.
Does Drinking Camel Milk Have Side Effects?
There is not enough evidence to state the side effects of camel milk. This is probably because of the fewer impurities it contains when compared to other milk sources. Camel milk has almost no reports of toxicity.
But a major downside could be its price. Camel milk has high production costs. Some countries might have to pay hefty taxes to import them.
Moreover, it has low shelf life. Yogurt and curd from camel milk also take longer to process and set.
Whether camel milk should be boiled/pasteurized or unpasteurized (raw milk) is debatable. Boiling might deactivate the enzymes (lysozyme, lactoferrin, etc.), but a few believe it could kill bacteria. There is less research available to arrive at a conclusion.
Camel milk is among the most nutritious milk types. Moreover, it appears to be a boon to those who have lactose intolerance. Its ability to soothe allergies should make camel milk a no-brainer for most. However, it could be expensive, and procuring it could be a challenge.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Should camel milk be boiled before drinking?
As per the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, camel milk, when not consumed fresh, must be processed or boiled (17). But if you are buying camel milk that is processed, you may not have to boil it again. However, please check the directions on the pack.
Can pregnant women drink camel milk?
Yes. There are no known contraindications in this regard. However, please check with your doctor.
Does camel milk contain cholesterol?
Yes. But the levels are lower than that of cow milk (18).
Does camel milk help increase height?
No. There is no research to support this. Also, after a certain age, it is not possible to increase your height naturally.
How long does camel milk last?
Fresh camel milk lasts for 4 days when refrigerated. You can also freeze the milk, which will then have a shelf life of a year in the freezer. Once it thaws, the milk must be consumed within 3 days.
How much of camel milk can you drink in a day?
There is information on the specific dosage. You may drink probably a cup or two of the milk a day. However, make sure you talk to your doctor.
- Medicinal values of bioactive constituents of camel milk: A concise report, International Journal of Health Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of Camel Milk Supplementation on Blood Parameters and Liver Function of Hepatitis Patients, American Journal of Ethnomedicine.
- Influence of camel milk on the hepatitis C virus burden of infected patients, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Camel Milk Has Beneficial Effects on Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review, International Journal of Endocrinology Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- A review on medicinal properties of Camel milk, World Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Academia.
- Anticancer Activity of Camel Milk via Induction of Autophagic Death in Human Colorectal and Breast Cancer Cells, Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of camel milk against renal toxicity in experimental rats, Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritional and Therapeutic Characteristics of Camel Milk in Children: A Systematic Review, Electronic Physician, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antimicrobial Effects of Camel Milk against Some Bacterial Pathogens, Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Gastroprotective and Ulcer Healing Effects of Camel Milk and Urine in HCl/EtOH, Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (Indomethacin), and Water-Restraint Stress-induced Ulcer in Rats, Pharmacognosy Magazine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Camel Milk- A Boon for Human Health, International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, Academia.
- Camel milk for food allergies in children, The Israel Medical Association Journal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Chemical Composition and Medicinal Values of Camel Milk, International Journal of Research Studies in Biosciences, Academia.
- Lactose, ScienceDirect.
- Desert Farms, U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
- MILK PRODUCTS AND THEIR USES, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
- Comparative milk and serum cholesterol content in dairy cow and camel, Journal of King Saud University, ScienceDirect.
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