Prepare for your mind to be blown as you review the following three images. They are, long story short, step-by-step instructions for drinking camel's urine as an immune system tonic and anti-cancer aid. Not kidding. Check it out:
Still not convinced to rush out to your local zoo and collect a few glass mason jars of camel piss?
Then consider the following scientific papers…
…and last, but certainly not least…
And trust me, the stuff tastes freaking delicious. It's right up there with bear drool and tiger semen.
OK, OK, so perhaps you're not still not convinced that urine is a must-have addition to your diet. But in today's article, I do want to share with you a new addition to my diet that is something far tastier and attractive than camel's urine…
In today's article, I'm going to share with you the fascinating history of camel's milk consumption, the surprising and unique nutrition profile of camel's milk, eight big reasons me and my twin eight year old boys are now guzzling camel's milk on a regular basis as an alternative to goat's milk and cow's milk, and where I get my camel's milk (spoiler alert: I did not purchase nor do I personally milk an actual camel).
Let's do this, shall we? (insert Aladdin theme song here).
The Fascinating History of Camel's Milk
Since the domestication of camel several millennia ago, bedouins, nomads and pastoral cultures around the world have relished camel milk – so they've been drinking the stuff for a really, really long time. Surprisingly, camels are thought to have originated in North America, but somebody must have left the gate open, because they eventually migrated to Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
For nomads, camels are more than livestock. They’re a physical and spiritual link to nature. Plus, it’s their primary source of income, food and transportation, just as if you bundled your car, house and job on top of a camel and hit the road. Camels are life to nomads, and although their way of life is being threatened due to city growth and loss of roaming land, a growing commercial interest in camel milk can help them keep going.
Herders in many of these Asian and Middle Eastern countries have long said they survive solely on camel milk when taking the camels long distances to graze in desert and arid mountain environments (I'm pretty sure they certainly throw a few dates down their throats too when they get the chance). And the camels? They're like goats. They can thrive on thorns, bushes, a few scant grasses and an occasional bucket of water to make a desert trip.
Camel farming traditionally takes place in desert or mountain conditions, although it is now flourishing in Germany and The Netherlands. You'll now find camel milk is in supermarkets in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Mauritania, and there’s a new chain of camel milk cafes in Dubai! Camels produce tons of milk – with Pakistani and Afghani camels producing up to 30 liters per day. Because of this, and because camels, with their ability to go 21 days without drinking water and still produce milk even when feeding on low-quality fodder, are a sustainable option for food security in difficult environments.
In India, camel milk has been used desert communities like the “raika” for a very long time, it also finds its presence in the ancient Indian medicinal texts of Ayurveda. The National Research Centre on Camel in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India is a national camel research institute, and has participated in research projects on the therapeutic values of camel milk in autism, diabetes, TB, hepatitis, etc.
In the USA, demand for camel milk originated from a growing number of people who had leaky gut issues and other irritable bowel complaints, and were looking for a milk the human gut can actually handle. Other people have utilized camel milk to boost their immune system (no camel urine required!) and to build a wider diversity of bacteria in the microbiome, which you'll learn about later in this article.
The Surprising & Unique Nutrition Profile of Camel's Milk
Camel milk is an extremely rich source of proteins, with very high antimicrobial and gut protective activities – since many of these proteins are not found in cow milk, or found only in minor amounts in cow milk. Camel milk has enough nutrients to easily sustain a person through the day as a sole source of food, and in many countries, camel milk is given to babies suffering from malnutrition.
Compared to cow, buffalo and ewe milk fat, camel milk fat contains fewer short-chain fatty acids, but the same number of long-chain fatty acids can be found, and is particularly high in linoleic acid. Some researchers claim that the value of camel milk is to be found in the high concentrations of linoleic acid (among other polyunsaturated fatty acids), which are essential for human nutrition. Camel milk has more fat and more protein than cow's milk, but the amount of cholesterol in camel milk is actually lower than cow or goat milk.
Camel milk also has a very high vitamin, mineral, and immunoglobulin content. It is three times higher in vitamin C than cow's milk and 10 times higher in iron than cow's milk. It is also very high in unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins, lower in lactose than cow's milk, and the levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc are higher than in cow's milk.
Here's a few other fun facts for you from the Desert Farm Camel's Milk website:
8 Big Reasons I Now Guzzle Camel's Milk
There's a few other very interesting benefits of camel's milk that I've discovered in the past couple months that I've been consuming the stuff: eight big reasons that I now guzzle camel's milk on a near daily basis.
In no particular order of importance, here they are:
First, camel's milk is extremely, extremely high in colostrum.
Colostrum, also known as “first milk”, is a mammary secretion produced by cows, camels and other related animals. The results of supplementation with colostrum or consumption of milk high in colostrum are similar to supplementing with whey protein, although colostrum may offer some very unique benefits for both the immune and digestive systems.
For example, the undeveloped intestinal tract of a newborn allows the growth factors present in colostrum to pass freely through the intestinal wall for absorption. But fully-developed adult mammal intestines break down the beneficial compounds in colostrum before they can be absorbed into the blood stream. So although an adult's digestive enzymes prevent colostrum growth factors from significantly affecting muscles, colostrum in adults will still exert a local effect in the gut, which increase intestinal integrity, prevents inflammation (like the kind that can be caused by prolonged, intense exercise, especially in the heat). So supplementing with colostrum or drinking milk high in colostrum will have an effect similar to supplementing whey protein or casein protein, but offer even more of a benefit, especially for leaky gut issues or intense exercise.
The antibodies present in colostrum are also effective at reducing diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli and reducing the risk of HIV infection.
And it turns out that camel milk, compared to other animal milk, is particularly good at providing colostrum. In the study “A comparative study of milk serum proteins in camel (Camelus dromedarius) and bovine colostrum“, you can see that camel milk is chock full of the stuff, and the study “Chemical characterization of the oligosaccharides in Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) milk and colostrum” shows a host of beneficial oligosaccharides unique to camel milk. Finally, the study “Selected vitamins and fatty acid patterns in dromedary milk and colostrum” also shows the colostrum in camel milk to be extremely high.
Camel’s milk provides prebiotics in the form of oligosaccharides.
Prebiotics are food components that are indigestible by humans, but that feed the microbial colonies in the gut. Essentially, prebiotics are soluble fiber like inulin, oligofructose, and oligosaccharides that our gut flora consumes and ferments. When microbial colonies in the gut aren’t getting enough prebiotic foods, the host (you) can suffer from indigestion, increased levels of inflammation, lower immune function, increased risk for weight gain, and an increased risk for various chronic diseases. This is because prebiotics are integral to maintaining the diversity, balance, and growth of intestinal bacteria, specifically increasing the number of the beneficial bacteria bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. By feeding and increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut, the body’s resistance to invading pathogens is increased.
Camel’s milk provides a great deal of oligosaccharides. More and more studies are coming out that show the health benefits of prebiotics. A diet supplemented with Galactooligosaccharides improved symptoms in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oligosaccharides aid in weight control, glucose regulation in diabetic patients, and influence homeostasis of intestinal cells. Short chain fatty acids, the end-products of prebiotic digestion by bacteria, are a source of energy for epithelial cells in the colon and help inhibit pathogen growth, reduce gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.
3. Modulation Of Human Microbiome (Restoration & Maintenance Of Healthy Gut)
Many compounds found in camel’s milk benefit the gut.
Moving past the benefits of the prebiotics found in camel’s milk, there are many more factors that influence gut health. Camel milk has anti-diarrheal properties with implications in treating complications with Autism, Crohn’s disease, and other digestive health issues. Vitamin-rich camel milk contains a high proportion of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids that improves carbohydrate metabolism. Camel milk lactoferrin has been found to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. Camel milk supplementation in rats exposed to Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli reduced the degree of pathogenicity, preventing damage to liver and kidney function and decreasing oxidative stress induced by the pathogens. It also has an antiulserogenic effect against gastric ulcers in mice. The probiotic lactic acid bacteria in camel milk prevents adhesion of pathogens in the GI tract. Lastly, the prebiotics and probiotics present in camel milk work synergistically to improve gut health and function.
4. Full Of Immune Activating Molecules
Camel milk has unique antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
We’ve already discussed some of the anti-microbial effects of camel milk, but it boasts many more immunity benefits. The lactoferrin present in camel milk directly boosts the immune system by maintaining immune homeostasis through controlling excess inflammatory response and by directly influencing the development of T-helper cells. Camel milk has an abundance of lysozymes, an enzyme that attacks pathogenic bacteria. Camel polyclonal antibodies helps inhibit hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus infectivity. Camel milk casein hydrolysates have antioxidant and antimicrobial functions. Camel milk may help reduce inflammation associated with obesity. It also contain disease-fighting immunoglobulins that boost the immune system. Additionally, camel milk does not contain the beta-casein and beta-lactoglobulin present in many forms of cow milk that has been linked to autism, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and type 1 diabetes. In a nutshell, camel milk helps boost the immune system and has protective properties against bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
5. Broad Spectrum Of Beneficial Bacteria
Raw camel milk is an excellent source of beneficial probiotics.
Raw camel milk contains over 120 strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that are both beneficial to the gut and have remarkable antimicrobial properties. LAB helps regulate bowel function, fights pathogens, alleviates allergic reactions, and lowers serum cholesterol levels. LAB play a key role in gut bacteria homeostasis and diversity, both necessary for a healthy gut.
6. Bio-active Molecules (Lactoferrins, Immunoglobulins, Anti-oxidants, Vitamins, Immunostimulant factors)
These molecules provide ample nourishment and are potent disease-fighters.
Camel milk contains a wide range of both water and fat-soluble vitamins, but is most notably a good source of vitamin C and niacin. It also has a satisfactory balance of amino acids and contains some essential fatty acids with a high proportion of polyunsaturated fats that are integral to human health.
The immunoglobulins, lysozymes, lactoferrin, hydrogen peroxide, and lactoperoxidase present in camel milk have profound immune boosting properties. Although the mechanism is unclear, camel milk has a hypocholesterolemic effect, probably due to bioactive peptides. As mentioned previously, the lactoferrin inhibits hepatitis B and C. Because the immunoglobulins found in camel milk are different from those usually consumed and present in humans, they aid in strengthening the host immune system. Camel milk has been used to treat dropsy, jaundice, spleen ailments, asthma, anemia, cirrhosis of the liver, tuberculosis, autoimmune disease, and autism. It is highly effective as a viral inhibitor to human rotavirus. The insulin in camel milk is able to pass through the stomach to be absorbed in the intestines, making it an effective treatment for diabetes regulation and reduces the need for insulin in type 1 diabetics. Lactoferrin is an effective anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer agent. Because lactoferrin snatches up free iron, it helps inhibit iron-catalyzed free radical damage, reduces severity of candida infections because candida does poorly in low-iron environments, and it suppresses the spread of cancer cells by limiting the formation of new blood vessels necessary for tumor growth by limiting available iron. The lysozymes present target invading pathogens and work particularly well against Salmonella.
7. High Levels of Selenium, Zinc & Other Minerals
Camel milk provides bioavailable minerals to the body.
Camel milk is rich in calcium, zinc, iron (10x more than cow's milk), copper and manganese and also contains magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and sodium. We all know about the importance of calcium for strong bones and zinc for immune health, but these minerals are highly bioavailable in camel milk due to its low pH allowing for enhanced absorption from the duodenum.
8. Contains Bio-identical IgF-1
Fight obesity and depression while aiding your brain, heart, and muscles with IgF-1.
Camel milk contains IgF-1, or insulin-like growth factor, which aids in organ development and functions. Supplementation with growth factors are most notably used in treating skin disorders, gut dysfunction, and bone health. IgF-1 is present in other animal milks, but only in camel milk is it able to pass through the stomach and into the intestines to be absorbed. The lactoferrin in camel milk stimulates lean muscle gain in conjunction with IgF-1. Sufficient IgF-1 protects the brain, encourages activity of muscle protein synthesis, suppresses liver glucose production, and can alleviate depression.
I actually mentioned many of these IGF benefits of milk in my article “Should You Use This Controversial Hormone Marketed As A Natural “Fountain Of Youth”?“, in which I fill you in on trendy “fountain of youth” growth hormones and growth hormone precursors, their potential danger, and a trilogy of other natural growth hormone building alternatives you could use should you choose not to take the risk.
In that article, I also described how I swallow a handful of colostrum capsules every morning, I drink raw animal milk such as camel milk and goat milk on most days, and I use the equivalent of around 30 grams of grass-fed whey protein each day in a smoothie (if you’re vegan or if whey protein doesn’t agree with your stomach, you can combine digestive enzymes with a vegan protein such as brown rice protein, pea protein or hemp protein for an effect similar to whey protein, a digestive enzyme biohack I talk about in great detail here).
Here is exactly what I personally use to keep my IGF-1 naturally elevated:
–NatureColostrum (4-8 capsules per day)
–Grass Fed Whey Protein (20-30g per day)
–Camel Milk (4-8 ounces per day – use code BEN20 for 20% off)
So there you have it: nine good reasons to guzzle down just a touch of camel milk every day (or to dump it into your smoothies or shakes, mix it into your coffee, make it into hot chocolate or teas, or do anything else you please with it…absolutely no urine required).
Alright, let's end with perhaps the most important consideration of all…
…how the heck does this stuff actually taste?
The fact that my eight year old kids guzzle it like a frat boy guzzles Bud Light oughtta give you some clue. But in my own opinion, and that of my highly sophisticated palate, the overall flavor of camel milk is light, sweet and surprisingly clean. It's not bitter or face-puckering like raw goat's milk, not thick and chunky like raw cow's milk, and it has a pleasant sweetness at the end that makes it linger in your mouth, and, due to the high mineral content, it's also slightly salty, which I quite like.
So let's finish with this: the brand of camel's milk that I drink is called “Desert Farms Camel Milk“. This is the raw, organic good stuff. There is nothing added and nothing removed, and their farms conduct regular lab testing for bacteria and pathogens before packaging, so you get a very clean, tasty bottle of milk on ice right at your doorstep.
They're giving any of my readers a 20% discount off any order if you simply use code BEN20 on their website. For your viewing pleasure, let's finish with what I consider to be a quite nifty video showcasing my own personal use of the Desert Farm's stuff, which I've now been drinking for the past two months:
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback about camel's milk, or anything else in this article? Leave your comments below and I'll reply, and in the meantime, I've also included a friggin' slew of scientific references on camel's milk should you decide you want to take the deep, deep dive. Bon appetit, and remember, you can click here and use code BEN20 to save 20% on any and all Desert Farms Camel Milk.
Also published on Medium.