Camel’s milk has long been consumed by people who raise these animals and live around them, like the Bedouins of the Middle East. But now, modern research is finding out that the milk of this large animal could be a type of super food and even a possible treatment for children with food allergies. For many children allergic to cow’s milk, camel’s milk may be a safe substitute, but that’s not where its uses end.
Camel’s Milk as a Substitute
The milk from camels is significantly different from that of cows and other ruminants. Cow’s milk contains beta-lactoglobulin, the main protein that acts as an allergen and causes reactions in some children, including severe anaphylaxis. Camel’s milk does not have this allergen. For this reason, doctors and allergists may recommend that a child allergic to milk try camel’s milk as a substitute.
The evidence from studies demonstrates that for the vast majority of kids allergic to cow’s milk, this is a good substitute. They do not experience an allergic reaction to camel’s milk. There is always an exception to the rule, though. A case study of a little boy describes his severe reaction to camel’s milk, so it is possible to be allergic to it, although this is believed to be rare.
Camel’s Milk as a Treatment
What has made camel’s milk so interesting is not just that it can be used as a cow’s milk substitute for most milk-allergic children. After all, there are many milk substitutes, like soy, almond, rice or hemp milk. What is truly intriguing about camel’s milk is that it may also work as a treatment for food allergies generally. While more research needs to be done, the current findings are promising.
The study in question used camel’s milk to treat eight children with severe food allergies and who had not responded to any other type of treatment. These children were all allergic to milk, but also had other food allergies. Their most common symptoms were diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes and asthma. One girl in the study was allergic to nearly all foods and experienced anaphylaxis immediately after consuming even a small amount of milk.
The children were put on a diet including camel’s milk and were then monitored for 30 days. All eight children had a reduction in symptoms of allergies within 24 hours of the new diet. Symptoms totally disappeared within four days. Just two weeks after drinking camel’s milk daily, the little girl allergic to all but a few foods was able to start eating some of those which had previously caused her serious reactions.
A four-month-old baby in the study experienced severe ear infections a few weeks after stopping the camel’s milk diet. No treatments, including surgery, seemed to help, but when the parents resumed giving the infant camel’s milk, the infections stopped. Another child in the study had been suffering from a lack of bone density, which was restored by the camel’s milk.
Should You Give Your Child Camel’s Milk?
The results of this study are pretty exciting for anyone who has a child struggling with food allergies. It is a small study, though, and the researchers point out that a larger clinical trial is needed to confirm he positive results. For most kids, though, it can’t hurt to try camel’s milk, if you can find it. Because an allergy to camel’s milk is rare but possible, it’s important to talk to your pediatrician or allergist before trying it.
According to the small study of camel’s milk, the proteins that help to heal the children would be destroyed if the milk were heated, which is what happens when milk is pasteurized. Laws about unpasteurized milk vary by state, but most allow it only if the farm producing it sells it directly to a consumer. In other words, you are not going to find raw, unpasteurized milk at your grocery store. To find a farm that sells raw camel’s milk is not easy and if you do find it, it will be expensive. It may be, though, that the cost and the search to find it are worth it in the end if your child shows improvement from drinking camel’s milk.