An overview of the potential nutritional, dietary, and therapeutic benefits of drinking camel milk for people with autism spectrum disorder or children with neurological conditions.
What is the camel milk/autism connection? Are there truly benefits for people with autism and consuming camel milk? Some other questions people could ask are why people cannot ingest cow’s milk? Plus, is there really a difference between camel and cow’s milk?
There are many diet suggestions which claim to improve symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As such, there are a number of treatments, therapies, and resources available, and the list continues to grow.
From goat milk to non-dairy alternatives, there are an array of options available in the milk sector that some people are turning to. However, there are also those who haven’t seen improvements through these options and are still searching.
In this article, we will discuss the potential benefits of camel’s milk, and how consuming it can potentially affect autism symptoms.
Could there really be a significant improvement in symptoms for those with ASD that drink camel milk daily? What is it about camel milk that could be beneficial?
Are there really benefits to drinking camel milk?
In America and some other parts of the world, camels are generally associated with transportation through desert areas. It really hasn’t crossed many of our minds to consider drinking their milk. Whereas in parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, people have been ingesting camel milk for centuries.
Camel milk is even a substance that people seek out for its antioxidant properties and consumers like that it has less sugar and cholesterol than some traditional milk options, as well as a higher amount of certain vitamins and minerals. Ingesting these nutrients can help boost the level of those nutrients in people who ingest it.
Some people also believe camel milk is the closest natural milk for people to drink next to human mother’s milk. That could mean that not only is camel milk high in nutritional value, it can also be easily digested. Perhaps consumption of camel milk could result in lower occurrences of milk allergies from unpasteurized milk.
What does camel’s milk claim to cure?
As mentioned above, research suggests there are nutrient differences in camel milk versus other milk alternatives. These could possibly help those with different types of immune dysfunction.
Another benefit could possibly be for those with higher blood pressure, cholesterol, and those who are diabetic and have some form of insulin requirement. That is because camel milk has lower sugars and cholesterol with the nutrients and antioxidants.
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Camel milk for autism
In Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there are claims that camel milk can help with oxidative stress in the brains of people with autism.
Along with providing antioxidants, researcher Amnon Gonenne, PhD, believes camel milk has anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit the autistic brain.
That would be in stark contrast to the inflammation that science suggests cow’s milk can cause, as well as gastrointestinal discomfort in those who are lactose intolerant.
One autism mom’s story
In the study Patient Report: Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated With Camel Milk, autism parent, lecturer, and author Christina Adams discusses their son’s autism diagnosis.
There were many therapies and treatments tried after her son was diagnosed at three years old. Then, when he was nine years old, the family decided to start having him drink a daily one half cup of raw camel milk.
Ms. Adams reported observing overnight changes when her son started drinking the first half of a cup of unpasteurized camel milk. The observations were reported for six consecutive years and the son consumed the milk daily.
It is important to note that this daily consumption only occurred after a number of therapies and treatments were tested. The mother also spent two years studying and discussing camel milk with those who use it.
The parent also spoke with a camel farmer who told them that camel milk was also used for premature babies in some Middle Eastern hospitals. This is because of it being nutrient dense and possibly non allergenic. It is considered, in those Middle Eastern hospitals, to be a valuable alternative to mother’s milk.
Further research and discussions
After this discussion with the farmer, Ms. Adams thought that the milk could potentially strengthen her son’s immune system, as one of the symptoms associated with autism is immune dysfunction.
The mom continued her research, speaking with many professionals, and was informed that camel milk is a hypoallergenic milk alternative and a safe traditional dairy replacement. In 2006, she found Dr. Reuven Yagil and read the doctor’s report on children with ASD and their positive responses to ingesting camel milk.
Although there were limited resources at the time, this report had some interesting findings. Ms. Adams also spoke with Dr. Amnon Gonenne, PhD, about his theory that camel milk may act as an anti-inflammatory agent and could help people with autism. After the discussion, the mother continued searching and made a decision.
The mother decided that the risk of food poisoning was low enough for the family to purchase and use the raw milk. They also asked their son’s doctor to authorize the milk for their son.
They searched around for where the unpasteurized milk was sold and it was finally ordered from Israel, after making sure it was tested for bacteria, stored at −20° C, and shipped by air.
Ms. Adams reported immediate changes, as early as the morning after her son ingested the camel milk for the first time. Improvements were noted such as more eye contact, more social/emotional interaction, and his morning routine ran smoother starting with neat breakfast manners and continuing as he finished getting together what he needed for that day at school.
The parent noted that within three weeks of consuming camel milk her son’s skin was becoming visibly smoother and some of his stimming reduced, such as facial grimaces and jerking in one arm.
Bottom line: Is camel milk good for autism?
In the article, Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers discuss how studies have demonstrated the role of oxidative stress in some neurological conditions, including ASD.
The studies propose that camel milk can have a therapeutic impact on the autistic brain. It is thought that this occurs due to certain antioxidant enzymes and their roles in the brain.
This means that the milk could help decrease oxidative stress and lead to increased positive behaviors and interactions. These improvements could help alleviate some of the behavioral and social behaviors that could be associated with autism, like increased eye contact.
There have been suggestions that sleep issues and stomach problems could both be improved through camel milk consumption, as they are seen on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS).
It is important to note that the studies mentioned in this article also included removing casein and gluten from the subjects’ diets. This is because the subjects all had some form of food allergy. So, the findings within the clinical reports show overall improvement in autistic behaviors when drinking raw camel milk alongside making other dietary modifications.
The benefits of camel milk consumption, as with any other treatment, therapy, or support for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, is very much down to the individual. Everybody will react in unique ways and not everyone will reap the rewards.
How do you measure oxidative stress in the brain?
In the study, Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there were three groups tested. The three groups consisted of people being given raw camel milk, boiled camel milk, and a placebo group.
Researchers took initial blood samples and obtained baseline red blood cells and plasma. After two weeks there was another blood sample taken from the three groups which was compared.
The first two groups showed a significant change. This was in contrast to the placebo group whose blood results stayed the same after the two weeks.
The antioxidative enzymes SOD, MPO, and GSH are associated with lowering oxidative stress. The enzymes greatly increased across the board for the participants that ingested the unpasteurized camel milk and boiled milk.
It is thought that an increase in oxidative stress could lead to some behaviors associated with autism, sleep, and stomach problems in autistic children. If there is a continuance of the lower levels of the antioxidant enzymes, that can lead directly to oxidative stress.
Another effect that could be caused by oxidative stress is lower levels of antioxidants in the blood. There would need to be more vitamin c, vitamin E, and GSH, possibly through micronutrient supplements.
Lower levels of these important nutrients and antioxidants could affect metabolic pathways. In turn, these could directly contribute to developmental delays that are also associated with autism.
Although there is plenty of information and people who are actively seeking out camel milk, there is more research to be done on this topic.
This article wasn’t meant to diagnose or tell people how to treat anything but is instead a starting point for those interested in camel milk. It is always a good idea to talk to professionals and review quality research on a topic before coming to any conclusions about your child’s treatment.
The mother who featured in Patient Report: Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated With Camel Milk, did six years of research before trying camel milk with her son. She spoke with professionals on the subject and made sure the family knew how to purchase safe camel milk.
It is not advised to drink raw cow milk or any other milk that is unpasteurized. This is because there are bacteria that are generally killed during the pasteurization process.
Could camel milk work for you or a loved one?
It is all dependent on the individual as ASD impacts each person in a different way. With that in mind, it is important to make sure that, when considering something like camel milk, a medical professional has been spoken with. They are the best place to get valuable information that Google could miss.
Also, make sure all food allergies and sensitivities are taken into account. It’s like the saying goes: “Once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” There is no quick-fix that covers the entire spectrum. Keeping that in mind while researching the consumption of camel milk is very important.
It is also important to note that certain food handling procedures could result in illness. It is vital to check out guidelines and best practices when using alternative food sources.
Adams, C. (2020). Patient Report: Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated With Camel Milk. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865381
Al-Ayadhi, L. & Elamin, N. (2013). Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/602834/
WebMD, (2020). Camel Milk: Are There Health Benefits? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-camel-milk#:~:text=Camel%20milk%20is%20high%20in,Vitamin%20B