I know It’s a little early to give these camel udders a fair squeeze. There aren’t many peer-reviewed studies to support either side, but given that autoimmune patients and their trail-blazing moms of ASD kids are coming out of woodworks to try this and already dribbling testimonials across the interwebs, I’m reminded of my old motto that informed patients do their best with the most info they have. If you’re interested in camel’s milk and haven’t done so already, here is Julie Matthew’s blog which breaks down the existing science better than I ever can. Almost a year after Julie’s blog was published, here’s me bustin my humps to figure out what all these research & patient reports mean for autoimmune patients.
The Universally Tolerated Dairy?
Camel milk’s main characteristics that may appeal to autoimmune patients (esp. those with leaky gut syndrome) is the “lack (of) β−lactoglobulin and a “new” β−-casein (Beg et al, 1986).” Beta casein (both A1 and A2, but especially A1) along with lactose have been the literal thorns in the midsections of autoimmune patients. Some do better with the A2 beta-casein in goat milk and milk from A2 cows, but it appears that many ASD kids still have trouble with this. As iffy as it sounds that a “new” beta-casein would not trigger these inflammatory reactions, the early patient reports appear to support the idea. Here are some quotes from Healing With Camel Milk, a facebook group (where you’ll also find info on camel milk producers):
“Anything fermented sends her into hyper OCD- Kefir, kombucha, homemade SCD yogurt, and even regular Kirkman acidophilus are horrible for my daughter. ….We have seen various positives, improving language, awareness, engagement, and still feel like CM is a great addition….”
“My son has allergies to cow, sheep and goat milk (pasteurized and raw) but he is using CM without a problem.”
“Since raw cow milk and goat milk give me issues, I’m very curious to see how I do with camel milk!” (6.25.12) ”I’ve tried cow milk, goat milk, and sheep milk, and CM is the first milk I actually like!” (8.12.12)
“My Lyme stricken boy developed severe allergies to nearly every food ingested due to extreme leaky gut caused by Babesia and Antibiotics, etc. I was scared to death to try Camel Milk. he had NO allergic reactions of any kind…nothing. “
The early signs point to camel’s milk being well-tolerated when other types of dairy are not.
Well Does It Heal?
Most articles I’ve read have focused on ASD, with only this oft-quoted snippet (unaccompanied by statistics) from Dr. Reuvin Yagil from 2004 on autoimmune disease: ”Personal observations (RY) over the past 5 years suggest that autoimmune diseases are controlled or even healed by drinking camel milk” (1).
Dr. Yagil emphasizes camel milk’s unique immunoglobulins (IGG), which are 1/10 size of human ones and able to neutralize the tetanus toxin and inhibit the hep C enzyme system (1). He seems to imply that these findings make camel IGGs superior to the human IGG’s lack of complete neutralizing activity, an implication that would be premature. On the flipside, there are several media outlets reporting that camel’s milk is the most similar to human breastmilk in terms of digestibility. However, a study comparing camel’s milk with human’s milk concludes that the composition between the two are still far apart in several ways (2). Similarity does not a replacement make.
A study by Dr. Yagil showed 8 children with severe milk and food allergies recovering using camel’s milk with no side effects (3).
There is a growing body of evidence (via Anti-MAP clinical trials) pointing to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) as a cause or at least one of the causes of Crohn’s disease (4).
Dr. Yagil thinks camel’s milk may be effective as an anti-MAP: ”Microbial diseases such…paratuberculosis…are of very minor importance in camels….As the (MAP) bacteria belongs to the family of tuberculosis and as camel milk has been used to treat tuberculosis (Urazakov & Bainazarov, 1974,) it becomes apparent that the powerful bactericide properties of camel milk combined with PGRP havea quick and positive effect on the healing process. In addition, immunoglobulins attack the anti-DNA and restore the immune system” (1.)
Again, Dr. Yagil is reaching a bit here. MAP’s similarity to tuberculosis does not make an anti-TB drug effective for MAP. In fact, Isoniazid is a common TB drug, and MAP is 100% resistant to it (10). His statement about paratuberculosis being of minor importance to camels also conflicts with others’ findings which show clear signs of disease in infected camels (5).”
However, there are some patient reports suggesting that it may indeed have a strong bactericidal effect:
“It resembled the stool we experienced when our older son was on an antibiotic called Flagyl, aimed at
killing Clostridia, a bad bacteria that grew out of control for months on end.” – http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Autism-Mercury/message/296182
TMI Alert: “I’ve been on it since mid July and after a wk or so started passing worms massively. The only other time i passed worms was when i was on 3 (different) Rx of antiparasitics with Dr Klinghardt in the past.” – patient A (lyme disease and ME/CFS)
Lyme Disease and ME/CFS:
Since there are no peer-reviewed studies on camel’s milk for either of these illnesses, this is all you, patient brain trust. With hyped treatments like GcMAF and camel’s milk (interestingly, both originated in Israel!), I like to wait at least a year for the hype to die down before looking closely at patient reports. Based on the hyped immune modulating qualities of camel’s milk, I think the natural areas to look for answers are: leaky gut (does it improve food tolerance?) and overall inflammation (are patients actually feeling better?) Some may say, “but those 2 outcomes say nothing about its antiviral and antibacterial qualities!” My response would be, “GcMAF supposedly kills infections indiscriminately, yet 15% of chronic lyme patients responded.” As a patient with autoimmune presentations, I frankly don’t care if it eats dirty petri dishes for breakfast if I don’t feel any better.
1. Leaky Gut
“The camel milk enabled med to go from a protein only diet to being able to tolerate (and do well) with salads and veggies, nuts, and fruits.” – Patient with Ulcerative Colitis at http://www.healingwell.com/community/default.aspx?f=38&m=2399624
“He had become allergic to everything, to all foods. His body was fighting itself. He was subsisting on a tablespoon of rice and a tablespoon of rice milk per day…..(after camel’s milk) Blood tests showed regular consistent improvement. Slowly foods were reintroduced to his diet. He began to tolerate a basic simple baby diet. He began to absorb food nutrients and to put on weight.” – http://www.camelmilkforhealth.com/ourStory.php
“The CM was wondrous in healing his GI issues and the one thing I can attribute to his getting out of bed after almost a year spent there too ill to do anything.” - Healing With Camel Milk Facebook group
2. Overall Inflammation
Lyme and ME/CFS are 2 diseases with autoimmune presentations. A high C4a and C3a are often seen in acute lyme disease (6). High c4a, which “has become the inflammatory marker of greatest significance looking at innate immune responses in those with exposure to (water damaged buildings)” (7) is often seen in ME/CFS and lyme disease patients. An immune modulating drug (plaquenil) may be helpful for lyme disease, and Rituximab (another immune modulating drug) is effective for ME/CFS (8).
Based on what I’m hearing from Lyme and ME/CFS patients taking camel’s milk, it appears that their overall inflammation is not improving and may in fact be worsening:
“Right now im going through a massive pain flare not sure whats brought it on…Im still drinking 1/4 of a bottle (4oz) of CM a day first thing inthe morning on an empty stomach…when i have big die offs my thyroid always gets blocked and affected by toxicity. So this was another indication of a massive die off.” – patient A (lyme disease and ME/CFS)
“I have ME/CFS/lyme and Ive done GcMAF and although I’m a relative newcomer to camel milk, and found it quite strong, and not even sure if suits me, I definitely agree with you about keeping the dose low for both the milk and for GcMAF…We seem to get a lot more inflammation than children with autism.” - Frou Fox (lyme disease and ME/CFS)
“CM has become increasingly rough on me. i am beginning to compare it to the honeymoon phase early in methylation where everything seems to align and becomes clearer and then the pathways start churning out toxins and bug carcasses and the system caves in….I have a lyme friend who started camel milk and didn’t notice anything! nothing! which is weird considering many healthy people will still experience a slight buzz. so far lots of lymers having rough times, with a couple outliers.” – patient C (lyme disease)
Camel’s Milk Worsens Candida?
Some initial reports suggest that camel’s milk can worsen candida. It’s worth mentioning that some ME/CFS patients told me they had yeast issues flare up on low-dose naltrexone, postulating it may be due to its TH17-suppressing qualities (9). Is it possible that the yeast issues in camel’s milk are collateral damage from immune regulation? More quotes from Healing With Camel Milk:
“We have been fighting with high grade probiotics and biotin and antifungals but still no avail. I was hoping and under the premise it really helped yeast. Now Im bummed I guess I kinda thought the gut healing was part of the yeast that plagues so many autistic kids.”
“I feel the CM has made my candida worse. Ive stopped drinking it now, but i’m feeling a lot worse partly because of the candida.”
The admin of the facebook group said she was able to resolve her child’s candida issues using Soil-Based Organisms. She uses this company: http://bodybiotics.com/
It seems to me that, as usually happens with hyped treatments, the truth ends up somewhere in between. It appears to be a promising source of dairy and nutrients for patients that can’t tolerate goat milk. Testimonials for ASD appear much more optimistic than for ME/CFS and Lyme, perhaps due to extensive or a different nature of inflammation. As with GcMAF, some really do benefit, whereas others can experience substantial, long-standing inflammation. I look forward to seeing how other autoimmune illnesses such as Crohn’s disease do with this. For anyone that decides to try this, I would definitely consider adding a SBO probiotic to keep a lid on candida.
1. Camel Milk and Autoimmune Diseases: Historical Medicine by Dr. Reuven Yagil http://www.camelmilkforhealth.com/admin/uploads/pubs/Camel-milk-autoimmunity.pdf
2. Nutritional and therapeutic properties of camel and human milks by S. M. Shamsia. International Journal of Genetics and Molecular Biology Vol. 1 (2), pp. 052-058, July, 2009. http://www.academicjournals.org/ijgmb/pdf/pdf2009/july/Shamsia.pdf
3. Camel milk for food allergies in children by Shabo Y, Barzel R, Margoulis M, Yagil R. Isr Med Assoc J. 2005 Dec;7(12):796-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16382703
4. Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, Crohn's disease and the Doomsdayscenario by John Hermon-Taylor. Gut Pathogens 2009, 1:15 http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
5. Pathology and molecular diagnosis of paratuberculosis of camels. by Alharbi KB, Al-Swailem A, Al-Dubaib MA, Al-Yamani E, Al-Naeem A, Shehata M, Hashad ME, Albusadah KA, Mahmoud OM. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2012 Jan;44(1):173-7. Epub 2011 Jun 4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21643659
6. Complement Split Products C3a and C4a Are Early Markers of Acute Lyme Disease in Tick Bite Patients in the United States by Ritchie C. Shoemaker, Patricia C. Giclas, Chris Crowder, Dennis House, M. Michael Glovsky. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2008;146:255–261 . http://www.jacemedical.com/articles/C4a%20C3a%20testing%20for%20Lyme%20disease.pdf
7. Secrets of Survival by Ritchie C. Shoemaker. Surviving Mold. An Illness Survived & Lives Restored. http://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/lab-tests
8. Benefit from B-Lymphocyte Depletion Using the Anti-CD20 Antibody Rituximab in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A Double-Blind and Placebo-ControlledStudy by Øystein Fluge, Ove Bruland, Kristin Risa, Anette Storstein, Einar K. Kristoffersen, Dipak Sapkota, Halvor Næss, Olav Dahl, Harald Nyland, Olav Mella. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0026358
9. Host responses to Candida albicans: Th17 cells and mucosal candidiasis by Heather R. Contia, Sarah L. Gaffen. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2010.03.013
10. Comparison of three methods for susceptibility testing ofMycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis to 11 antimicrobial drugs by Y.K. Krishnan et al. J. Antimicrobial. Chemotherapy. 64(2):310-316, 2009).