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Healing Properties and Health Benefits of Camel Milk

Updated on August 8, 2017
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Mazlan wasn’t into health or fitness, but as age crept up on him, he realized the important benefits of living a fit, healthy lifestyle.

When I first heard of drinking camel milk, my initial reaction was, "Huh?" But, after spending a few years working in the Middle East, I am now familiar with the many benefits it has to offer.

For centuries, camel milk has been one of the staple foods for the Bedouin Arabs. In the harsh and arid desert country, it not only replaces water, but also provides the essential nutrients to keep people healthy.

The locals drink this stuff fresh, and sometimes, they drink it when it is slightly sour (in the fermented form). However, they believe that this pasteurized version has fewer nutritional and healing qualities.

The Health Benefits

The Bedouins have benefited from the milk's many medicinal values and they believe that the camel's diet must consist of certain plants in order to enhance the milk's curative powers. However, research has shown that even without these special plants[1] the milk still aids with the following:

  • General well-being: The numerous nutrients help promote the body's natural defenses. [1]
  • Anti-aging: The Alpha hydroxyl acid that is present helps smooth fine lines. [7]
  • Cancer: Contains anti-tumor properties. [6]
  • Diabetic: The presence of high levels of insulin-like protein (about 52 micro units/ml) help reduce diabetes. [3][4]
  • Liver disease: Contains antiviral properties that help reduce liver inflammation. The milk also has many nutrients that are required for healthy liver function. [1]
  • Autism: It is rich in immunoglobulin, which will strengthen the body's autoimmune system. This helps treat and heal autism. [5]
  • Thalassemia: The curative properties protect our body from oxidative injury. [9]
  • Acne and eczema: The anti-microbial properties will act as a natural cleanser. [6]
  • Arthritis: The lactoferrin helps remove free iron from the joints of arthritic patients.[1][6]
  • Tuberculosis: The antibacterial and antiviral properties are known to destroy the mycobacterium tuberculosis. [8]
  • AIDS: AIDS patients in Africa drink it to help them recover. [7]

Many people can benefit from its healing properties. However, as with any alternative or traditional remedies, please seek your doctor's advice before consuming.

Works of Research

Below are several works of research that confirm and document these benefits.

  • 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.
  • Effect on Cancer Cell Growth: Studies done by King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, and University of Alberta, Canada all showed successful applications of camel milk for cancer treatment.
  • Effect on Autism: Prof. Reuven Yagil of Ben-Gurion University, Israel concluded that the milk has benefits that can treat autistic children.
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV): Studies show positive results in impeding the growth of HCV. This study was subsidized by an 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 showed positive results for similar ailments when using the pasteurized version.

For more published reports and bodies of research, see the "Reference and Further Reading" section below.

Bedouins on long journey in arid desert depend on Camel Milk for hydration and nutrition.
Bedouins on long journey in arid desert depend on Camel Milk for hydration and nutrition. | Source

Camel Milk vs. Cow Milk

Cow's milk is easily available and is 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 the human mother's milk and it is easier for babies to consume[2]. Research studies from around the world also confirm that it is highly nutritious.[1][7] The composition of whey proteins and caseins in camels milk differs from cows milk, which could be the reason for its healing properties.

When compared to cow milk, camel milk is:

  • Lower in lactose
  • Higher in potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and sodium.
  • Lower in cholesterol
  • Contains three times the amount of vitamin C
  • Has ten times the amount of iron
  • Contains higher unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins
  • Has more Vitamin A
  • Has a higher protein level
  • Contains ten times the amount of antibacterial and antiviral properties
  • Easily absorbed: It doesn't coagulate easily, even in an acid environment like our stomach. Hence, it is easily absorbed by our digestive system.
  • Dissolves better: In powder form, it will dissolve better.
  • Lower Yield: A camel produces a lower yield at 13 pints (6.2 liter) as compared to cows 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.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ranked camel's milk as the healthiest animal milk.

This is the pasteurized camel milk that I drank
This is the pasteurized camel milk that I drank | Source

What Does It Taste Like?

In 2007, I had my first taste of it freshly milked from a camel's farm in Dubai. It was warm and 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 it. However, my Arab friend reassured me that this is a normal reaction for first-timers because it 'cleanses the system.'

The taste varies according to the animal's diet and the amount of water it had drunk. Some say it is mildly sweet like 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 version and I don't think my stomach is strong enough for that. However, this form is commonly consumed by the traveling Bedouins.

Updated: In my recent trip to Saudi Arabia in March 2017, I had a chance to drink the pasteurized camel milk sold at the supermarket. How does it taste like? It tastes awesome. In fact, I can't tell the difference from this pasteurized camel milk from a pasteurized cow milk. So if you had a chance, give it a try. It not only taste good but it's full of health benefits as well

Milk's taste will vary according to the diet and the amount of water the camel had drunk.
Milk's taste will vary according to the diet and the amount of water the camel had drunk. | Source

Camel Milk Products

The following are other camel milk products that are available, albeit in limited quantity.

Cheese

The Bedouins and the camel herding tribes will turn excess camel milk into cheese. Because camel milk does not coagulate easily, the common method of using rennet does not work. It is instead made through a process known as "lactic fermentation," in which milk sugar is decomposed into lactic acid, which makes the milk sour. The cheese that you get does not taste the same as what you are used to.

However, under the auspices of United Nation's FAO research work[7], camel milk can now coagulate using vegetable rennet and calcium phosphate. The end product is a low cholesterol cheese. Due to limited production, it is only sold in small quantities.

Camel Milk Chocolate
Camel Milk Chocolate | Source

Butter

Just like cheese, butter from camel milk is not easy to produce due to poor coagulation and the long time required to produce it. However, some farms have a preparation process that churns out decent camel milk butter. Again, there is a limited quantity and it is more expensive than other butters.

Ice-Cream and Chocolate

Chocolate and coffee flavored ice-cream and chocolates 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.

Soap

Camel milk soap is very popular in Middle Eastern countries. It is claimed to be good for people with eczema. But, this soap is not made with 100% camel's milk. In most cases, it is only 25%. The other main ingredients is fat. Buy soaps that do not use animal fat, but rather natural vegetable oils, such as olive oil.

If you prefer something scented, there are brands that sell lavender, sweet rose, peppermint, and other essential oils.

Muhallabia, a Middle Eastern milk pudding.
Muhallabia, a Middle Eastern milk pudding. | Source

Muhallabia: a Middle Eastern Dessert

Muhallabia is a Middle Eastern milk pudding with pistachio or almonds sprinkled on top. Normally made using cow milk, it can also be made with camel milk and is said to be creamier and tastier.

Where to Buy

If you live in the Middle East, parts of Africa, China, Russia, or northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, buying fresh camel milk is not a problem. In some of these countries, you can even buy them at the supermarket.

If you live outside of these countries or in an area where camel rearing is non-existent or rare, your best bet is to buy the powdered form online. Alternatively, you can buy it in capsule form, which is more convenient and can be taken with you to work or whenever you are away from your home. Both forms are available on Amazon.com.

Source

A Tool to Raise Economic Standards

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognized camel milk as an important commodity[7] to raise the economic standard for people who live in arid and semi-arid desert areas. It will be marketed and sold based on its nutritional and health benefits. This will bring in additional income to people who produce and sell it.

Production in Non-Traditional Camel Rearing Countries

The following examples of camel farming in non-traditional camel-producing countries show its growing importance.

Sales in the USA

It used to be illegal to sell or even produce camel milk in the U.S. It was not until 2009 that the Food and Drug Administration legalized its domestic production and consumption. In 2012, the FDA finally gave approval for camel milk to be sold throughout the U.S.

Since production costs are still expensive for American camel breeders, current sales are limited to medical usage and to ethnic residents who use it in traditional foods.

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 the Netherlands and now exports camel milk to Britain and Belgium.

Research Center in India

To help improve the socio-economic status of people in arid and semi-arid zones, the Indian government established The National Research Center on Camels in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. Camels were identified as an important animal for this harsh and fragile desert eco-system, and researches were conducted to help camel owners improve their economic status.

Part of the program states that camel milk will be sold at subsidized rates to poor families who have diabetic members or children with disabilities.

Industry in Australia

Camels were imported into Australia as early as the 1860s and were mainly used as working animals in the semi-arid desert areas. Now, camels are reared for their milk and meat. With an increased demand for camel meat and milk in Asia and parts of the Middle East, Australia now exports most of its supply of camel products.

Farm in Netherlands

Will You Try Camel Milk?

See results

Would 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 of 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 here on Yahoo News.

Milk Production

References and Further Reading

  1. Dr. Millie Hinkle
  2. Food allergies in children
  3. Insulin
  4. Diabetes
  5. Autism
  6. Antibody–based therapeutics
  7. Israel Journal of Veterinary Medicine: Therapeutic value of camel milk in tuberculosis
  8. Toxic effect of aluminum

© 2013 Mazlan

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    • just4curiosity profile image

      Rohan Singh 23 months ago from INDIA

      I have heard of other milks and I have read in a book that camel milks are very beneficial like other milk such as goat milk and cow milk. They contain some special nutritional profile. Love to find it here.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Ibrahim. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experience. You are lucky to have fresh supply of cheap camel milk in your area!

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Bilal. To be on the safe side, you must always boil camel milk. If you bought it 'fresh' from the farm and it turns 'lumpy' when you boiled, the milk is probably no longer fresh and has started to ferment. In hot weather, fresh camel milk do not keep for long.

    • profile image

      Bilal 2 years ago

      Assalam o alaikum Ibrahim and Hi everyone,

      Can you or anyone else pls advise how to use camel milk, I mean if we have to boil it like cow milk. Actually I brought fresh camel milk yesterday from a farm and boiled it, however, it changed from its homogeneous form and little lumps appeared in it due to which we did not use it.

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Ibrahim 2 years ago

      I live in Somalia, Baidoa town, I hve just drunk the camel milk and I use it every day because we have tought its benefits by our parents and grand parents so that is we rely on it. We have so many camels here and the milk is fresh and cheap.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Gode tia byrnes, yes you should give it a try. Research and studies have shown its effectiveness, and besides camel milk is a form of food and is not chemical like most medication. I pray that your daughter will respond well to this alternative remedy.

    • profile image

      Gode tia byrnes 2 years ago

      I think this is simply amazing, how it just has so many benefits and would love to try this product on my daugter diagnozed with diabeties type 1 2 years ago

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Diana, you are lucky to have a doctor who is not so hung up on the usual prescription medication. For the doctor to recommend camel milk shows his vast knowledge on what other options are available for your son.

      Yes, of course you can have it with your porridge. Use it like you normally do with cow's milk.

      Camel milk is expensive right now as there is no large commercial farm for the production. But you are lucky to get them in Kenya. We have to resort to the powder version, which is even more expensive.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experience.

    • profile image

      Diana 2 years ago

      Thanks for all the commente a paeditrician recommended camel milk for my 5yr old son, at first i thought it was a bit joke i googled i think its good. Camel milk Is hard to get in Kenya i managed to get a few pints though its vert expensive. My question Is Can i take camel milk in porridge coz i can't stand the taste of milk in my mouth

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Romanian, if you google you might find a supplier of camel milk in your country. A supplier from the Netherlands sells camel milk powder online. You might want to check them out as well. Hope you succeed. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Romanian profile image

      Nicu 2 years ago from Oradea, Romania

      It's good to know this about camel milk. I will probably try it one day, but I can't find this in my country.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Tina. Yes, of course. In fact, as mentioned in my article, camel's milk is highly nutritious and is known to be the closest to human mother's milk. It is easier even for baby to consume, let alone a pregnant woman. The Bedouins have been doing this for centuries.

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      Tina 2 years ago

      Can pregnant women drink it

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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi maryam. Yes you can heat camel milk, but do it gently and slowly. And of course, you can drink after that. I am not sure about reheating camel milk, but I guess reheated milk may present a bacteria risk just like cow milk.

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      maryam 2 years ago

      wow. camel milk sure has its benefits. I wanted to know if we can boil camel milk and then drink it. plus is it safe to reheat camels milk before drinking. I like warm milk better than cold milk

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      @yasirchohan, camel milk is indeed an astonishing product that is very much under rated. Thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts.

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Some people say that camel's milk is the next superfood. But right now many people are still 'in the dark' over its benefit, mainly because the milk production has not gone on a big commercial scale, as compared to cow's milk. It's a pity I don’t worked in the Middle East country anymore, otherwise camel's milk will be my daily morning drink.

      Thanks missmarsh for dropping by and commenting.

    • missmarsh profile image

      Loralie Lyndon 2 years ago from USA

      Oh my! Thanks for all the great information on camel's milk. I never knew it could be used for so much or that so many things were made from it! Such an interesting article. I appreciate you sharing this!

    • yasirchohan profile image

      Yasir chohan 2 years ago from Reisterstown

      Oh Wow! This is astonishing. Nothing has been made without its uses and purpose!

    • profile image

      Roy 3 years ago

      Hello everyone,

      Would like to inform you that if anyone wants camel milk regular supply in Delhi and other nearby regions,feel free to call at +91-8130337895. Or drop a mail at sumwethz@gmail.com

    • profile image

      jacki 3 years ago

      i m very exciting to get camel milk,,, however and whatever i will get milk soon,, coz of,,, nothing is expansive then our health

    • greatstuff profile image
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      Mazlan 3 years ago from Malaysia

      @Lookingforacure, I asked the same question when I was in Saudi Arabia last year and the answer given was fresh camel milk is better. However, if there is none near where we live and if there are any, it could be expensive, then the powdered milk is the next best thing. You can get it through Amazon.com

      The Smits camel farm in the Netherlands sells camel milk in capsule form; you may want to check with them on the pricing and shipping arrangement. Their web site is http://www.kamelenmelk.nl/index.php?lang=en

      If the pricing is out of your budget, is goat's milk another possible option that your Holistic Doctor can consider?

      Hope this will help you and wish you all the best

    • profile image

      Lookingforacure 3 years ago

      Is powdered camel milk as effective as fresh in healing? My wife has been suffering from Chronns Disease for 5 years and we are out of options. We recently spoke to a Holistic Dr and she suggested Camels milk; however, its out of our price range. Any help would be appreciated.

    • profile image

      Rohit Nagpal 3 years ago

      We make fresh camel milk available in India. If you are interested buying it you can contact me on rohit1983in@gmail.com

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @TheKatsMeow, I am glad this article has help to enlighten you with the benefits of camel milk. Have a good day

      @wqaindia, Thanks for the suggestion. It could be a long chapter if I include this. Best way is to buy camel milk powder online

      @teaches12345, you are right. I should have boiled the camel milk before drinking. However, at that camel farm, this was not possible. Thanks for your support and the votes

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I wonder if you had the camel milk heated, on your first try, it would digest easier? Anyway, interesting post on camel's milk. It does appear to have much to offer the body in vitamins and building the immune system. Voted up+++

    • wqaindia profile image

      Ashok Goyal 4 years ago from Rajpura 140401 Punjab India

      Amazing! but I could not find any one selling fresh camel milk or packaged camel milk and cheese in or around 200 km of my city.

      Can you add another chapter about availability of the fresh or processed and preserved camel milk or its products. It is a good business idea.

    • TheKatsMeow profile image

      TheKatsMeow 4 years ago from Canada

      Wow I had no idea that this stuff was so healthy! I will be honest and say that I have never tried camel's milk and before this article I never would have wanted to try it either! thanks for teaching me about something new!

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      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @kidscraft Thanks for dropping by and the votes. It is actually more expensive to rear cows in the desert. To start with, cows consumed more water than camel and that is not easy to find in the arid desert areas.

      @Nell, It is strange how God make nature survived in whatever conditions they are in and in the arid desert, there are plants and animals that you can lived on for the required nutrition. Thanks for the vote and Share

      @Rajan, do you know that they sell camel milk ice cream in Rajasthan? Rajasthan also have a good and highly respected research center on camel. Thanks again for the votes and Share

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This is fantastic information. We do have lot of camels in Rajasthan, the desert state of India. It is great to know these awesome benefits that camel milk provides. Thanks for sharing.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing this hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Thats certainly fascinating news, who would have thought it? and well done for drinking some! lol! I often wondered how the people of the desert got their nutrition, fascinating hub, and voted and shared, nell

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Wouaw... that's very interesting! But why not! We have to stay open to what people use in other corners of the Earth! It's for sure that I can envisionned any cows in the desert so they have to find other ways to have something to drink! Thank you very much for this in depth article about all the properties of camel milk. I learned a lot today!

      Voted up, interesting and awesome!