Camel milk has been used for centuries as a medicinal drink in Middle Eastern, Asian, and African cultures.
It contains all of the essential nutrients as well as potentially health-beneficial compounds with anticarcinogenic, antihypertensive, and antioxidant properties.
Camel milk has been used for the treatment of diabetes, allergies to cow's milk, gastrointestial disorders and autism. Further information is summarized below.
It should be noted that the scientific evidence for these health claims is insufficient as far as now. Consequently they cannot been used for the marketing of camel milk to support treatment of diseases. Therefore more scientific studies are urgently needed.
Because of the health aspects of camel milk, several camel milk products have been developped.
Diseases for which the treatment effect of camel milk have been described, are summarized below.
Health aspects of camel milk
Camel milk is known in Asia and africa for 5000 years for its benefits of human health (1).
Camel milk contains much Vitamin C and is rich in iron, unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin B. Furthermore sugar and cholesterol content are low (2;3).
Because of all animal milk camel milk is most like human mother’s milk, the Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) stimulates the production of camel (4).
Camel milk is an alternative for cow’s milk for humans with cow’s milk protein allergy, because camel milk does not contain betalactoglobulin. This is the protein that causes cow’s milk allergy (1).
Furthermore camel milk contains many substances that have been proven to fight bacteria and viruses, including lysozyme, lactoperoxidase and lactoferrin(3;5).
Camels produce very small IgG antibodies. These nanobodies can penetrate into tissues(6) and can neutralize virus parts within and outside infected cells (7). It is currently investigated how these nanobodies how they can help fight covid-19(8).
In the beginning of the 21e century it became clear that camel milk can support the treatment of diabetes. Possibly because camel milk contains a protein that resembles insulin that plays a crucial role in the glucose metabolism. Furthermore camel milk has immunologic properties that help with the fight against chronic anti-self-inflammatory responses in diabetes (9).
Diseases for which treatment effects of camel milk have been described (references in brackets).
Cow's milk allergy (10, 11)
Hepatitis C (15-17)
Herpes simplex (19)
Gastro-intestinal disorders (20)
1. Smits MG. Camel milk- an advantage to human health and prospects of camel dairy at Netherlands. Journal of Camel Practice and Research 2014;21(2):239-41.
2. Rasheed Z. Medicinal values of bioactive constituents of camel milk: A concise report. Int J Health Sci (Qassim ) 2017 November;11(5):1-2.
3. Shamsia A. Nutritional and therapeutic properties of camel and human milks. International Journal of Genetics and Molecular Biology 2009;1(2):52-8.
4 FAO. The next thing: camel milk. FAO newsroom 2006;Available from: URL: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000275/index.html
5 el Agamy EI, Ruppanner R, Ismail A, Champagne CP, Assaf R. Antibacterial and antiviral activity of camel milk protective proteins. J Dairy Res 1992 May;59(2):169-75.
6. Cortez-Retamozo V, Lauwereys M, Hassanzadeh GG, Gobert M, Conrath K, Muyldermans S et al. Efficient tumor targeting by single-domain antibody fragments of camels. Int J Cancer 2002 March 20;98(3):456-62.
7. Vanlandschoot P, Stortelers C, Beirnaert E, Ibanez LI, Schepens B, Depla E et al. Nanobodies(R): new ammunition to battle viruses. Antiviral Res 2011 December;92(3):389-407.
8. Hasson S, Al-Jabri A. Immunized camels and COVID-19. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 2020;13(6):239-41.
9. Mirmiran P, Ejtahed HS, Angoorani P, Eslami F, Azizi F. Camel Milk Has Beneficial Effects on Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review. Int J Endocrinol Metab 2017 April;15(2):e42150.
10 Talarico V, Mazza G, Rubino M, Monti G, Giancotti L, Bua A et al. Camel milk: a possible alternative for children with cow's milk allergy ? Minerva Pediatr 2019 November 5.
11. Ehlayel MS, Hazeima KA, Al-Mesaifri F, Bener A. Camel milk: an alternative for cow's milk allergy in children. Allergy Asthma Proc 2011 May;32(3):255-8.
12 Krishnankutty R, Iskandarani A, Therachiyil L, Uddin S, Azizi F, Kulinski M et al. Anticancer Activity of Camel Milk via Induction of Autophagic Death in Human Colorectal and Breast Cancer Cells. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2018 December 25;19(12):3501-9.
13. Uversky VN, El-Fakharany EM, Abu-Serie MM, Almehdar HA, Redwan EM. Divergent Anticancer Activity of Free and Formulated Camel Milk alpha-Lactalbumin. Cancer Invest 2017 October 21;35(9):610-23.
14. Yang J, Dou Z, Peng X, Wang H, Shen T, Liu J et al. Transcriptomics and proteomics analyses of anti-cancer mechanisms of TR35-An active fraction from Xinjiang Bactrian camel milk in esophageal carcinoma cell. Clin Nutr 2019 October;38(5):2349-59.
15. El-Fakharany EM, El-Baky NA, Linjawi MH, Aljaddawi AA, Saleem TH, Nassar AY et al. Influence of camel milk on the hepatitis C virus burden of infected patients. Exp Ther Med 2017 April;13(4):1313-20.
16. El-Fakharany EM, Abedelbaky N, Haroun BM, Sanchez L, Redwan NA, Redwan EM. Anti-infectivity of camel polyclonal antibodies against hepatitis C virus in Huh7.5 hepatoma. Virol J 2012;9:201.
17. Redwan e, Tabll A. Camel lactoferrin markedly inhibits hepatitis C virus genotype 4 infection of human peripheral blood leukocytes. J Immunoassay Immunochem 2007;28(3):267-77.
18. Shimshoni R. Effecitveness of camel milk based formulation for treating psoriasis. internet 2014;Available from: URL: http://www.google.nl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=camel+milk+psoriasis&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.moloko-verblud.narod.ru%2Flinks%2FStudyEng.1.pdf&ei=hGSNU5jkL8THPeGlAQ&usg=AFQjCNGk5JAWJ86Zlx3nJNKE9I7X44GKHw
19. El-Fakharany EM, Uversky VN, Redwan EM. Comparative Analysis of the Antiviral Activity of Camel, Bovine, and Human Lactoperoxidases Against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 2017 May;182(1):294-310.
20. Wang Z, Zhang W, Wang B, Zhang F, Shao Y. Influence of Bactrian camel milk on the gut microbiota. J Dairy Sci 2018 July;101(7):5758-69.
21. Al-Ayadhi LY, Elamin NE. Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013;2013:602834.
22. Wernery R, Suntiha J, Bobby J, Sherry J, Milen T, Maria R-A et al. camel milk against autism - A preleminary report. Journal of Camel Practice and Research 2012;19(2):143-7.