Medicinal benefits of Camel milk

Healing Powers of Camel Milk-White gold of desert


Camel is an important component of the dry land and desert ecosystem. It is not only an important economic means of short distance transport to the rural and urban societies inhabiting in arid and semi arid zones, but also serves as a source of milk. For desert people, camel is vital to daily life as a source of food. Milk is an important food for children. Camel milk has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern societies. Avicenna stated therapeutic effects for camel milk in spleen, kidney, liver, cancer, and children diseases have been reported.

Camel dairy farming is an alternative to cow dairy farming in dry regions. Camels can produce an adequate amount of milk in drought areas where other domestic animals have very low production. Camel milk can be found in supermarkets in the UK, UAE, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, and the United States. Camel milk so called white gold of the desert is more similar to human milk than any other milk and differs from other ruminant milk because it contains low cholesterol, low sugar, high minerals, high vitamin C, protective proteins .

Camel milk has been acknowledged for a long time to provide a potential treatment for a series of diseases such as dropsy, jaundice, anti-hypertensive, asthma, and leishmaniasis or kala-azar. Camel milk has enough nutrients to sustain a person through the day. 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-chained fatty acids, but the same long-chained fatty acids can be found. Camel milk has more fat and protein than cow’s milk. Cholesterol in camel milk is lower than cow or goat milk.

Medicinal benefits of Camel milk
Medicinal benefits of Camel milk (Image copyright: streetfood Pk)

Camel milk has a high vitamin and mineral content and immunoglobin content (Farah et al., 1992). Camel milk is three times higher in vitamin C than cow’s milk and 10 times higher in iron. It is also high in unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins but lower in vitamin A and B2 (than cow milk). It has been reported that camel milk contains the low quantity of β-casein and the lack of β-lactoglobulin which cause allergic reaction in lactose intolerant person. Nevertheless, it

contains insulin-like and protective protein used for the treatment of many ailments like diabetes, autism, and diarrhea and possesses anti-tumors properties. Moreover, camel milk is endowed with very strong immune system and remedy for peptic ulcers anti-malignant anti-platelet and anti-thrombotic properties.

The composition of camel milk depends on its feed and species: Bactrian milk has a higher fat content than dromedary milk. Camel milk is lower in lactose than cow’s milk; however, levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc are higher than in cow’s milk. Consumer appreciates camel milk for its medicinal properties. It is reputed to be an anti infectious, anti cancerous and anti diabetic. Camel milk helps to treat infectious diseases such as tuberculosis in humans. Camel milk is also used in Kazakhstan as an adjunct to chemotherapy for some form of cancers, those of the digestive tract.

Camel milk in India has been used by raika and other desert communities. The National Research Centre on Camel in Bikaner, Rajasthan, has participated in research projects on the therapeutic values of camel milk in autism, diabetes, TB, hepatitis, etc. Camel milk is believed to modulate the immune system. A study of eight children showed its ability to ameliorate allergies in children (Shabo et al., 2005). Research by Indian scientists supports the therapeutic value of camel milk in the treatment of several diseases including tuberculosis (Ilse, 2004)

 Chemical composition of camel milk:

            Camel’s milk is generally an opaque white color and has a faint sweetish odor and sharp taste; sometimes it can be salty. In general, the average composition of camel milk is: protein 3.4%; fat 3.5%; lactose 4.4%; ash 0.79%, while water covers 87%.

  1. Water: It is the most important factor in camel milk. Unlike other animals the water content of camel milk increases during dehydration. This is useful as water source for dehydrated calf and the humans in area where water is scarce. The reasons for increment of water content of milk of dehydrated camel are ADH secretion is elevated in the dehydrated camel.

Proteins: Camel milk contains 3 to 3.9% of protein. It contains two main groups (Caseins and Whey proteins and relatively higher amount immune proteins (Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein, Lactoferrin, Lysozyme and Lactoperoxidase) and insulin.   Casein is the most important and higher in proportion in camel milk. Dromedary camel milk has 1.63 to 2.76% of casein protein that constitutes 52 to 87% of total milk protein. Whey protein is the second biggest fraction of protein of camel milk which covers 20-25% of camel milk protein. β -lactoglobulin is found in trace, while α-lactalbumin comprises the major camel milk portion. Whey protein of camel milk consists of some other main components such as peptidoglycan, recognition protein, Immunoglobulinss, lactoferrin and serum albumin. Immunoglobulins make camel milk incredible for infection fighting capacity. Camel Igs can pass the BBB, and readily absorbed from the gut into the general circulation.

  1. Fats: It is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega fats. Fat globules with the biggest average diameter found in buffalo milk (8.7 μm), the smallest in camel (2.99 μm) and goat milk (3.19 μm). Therefore, milk from goats or camels is more digestible for humans. Camel milk is unique concerning its fatty acid profile containing 6 to 8 times less of the short fatty acids chain compared to milk from cows, goats, sheep, and buffalo.
  2. Carbohydrate: Lactose is a major carbohydrate of camel’s milk. Lactose (milk sugar) readily digested by human lactase with no signs of lactose intolerance.
  3. Minerals: Camel milk is rich source of various minerals like Na, K, Ca, P Mg Fe, Zn, Cu are present in camel milk.
  4. Vitamins and electrolytes: Numerous vitamins such as D, E, A, C and vitamins of B group are found in dromedary camel milk. It was revealed that camel milk contained three to five times more vitamin C as compare to bovine milk. The low pH of camel milk is due to higher concentration of vitamin C. The low pH due to vitamin C content stabilizes the milk and can be kept for relatively longer period. Fresh camels’ milk has a high pH. The pH of milk is between 6.5–6.7. Camel milk has powerful antioxidant property because of vitamin C.


Table 1: Proximate chemical composition of milk of different species (Al haj Omar et al 2010)

Name of species

Water %

Protein %

Fat %

Ash %

Lactose %





































Medicinal properties of camel’s milk: Health benefit potentials of camel milk are obtained through a number of bioactive components in camel milk. These components were reported to exist naturally in camel milk. Camel milk is enriched with many protective proteins, which exert different activity such as antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic activity, immunological properties, growth promotion activity and anti-tumor activity (Mona et al., 2010). Camel milk contains peptides and proteins that have beneficial effect on many bioprocesses as digestion, absorption, growth and immunity (Omar et al., 2008).

Protective and therapeutic role of camel’s milk:

  • Camel milk has been used for treatment of various diseases such as dropsy, jaundice, tuberculosis, asthma, and leishmaniasis or kala-azar in different parts of the world (Asresie et al., 2014).
  • Diabetes mellitus type 1 occurs due to autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, leads to increased blood and urine glucose. (Gul et al., 2015) observed that Diabetes problem was cured with camel milk because it contains tissue repairing proteins.
  • Agarwal et al., (2003) did a comparison between conventionally treated juveniles diabetes with those also drinking camel milk in India and found that blood sugar level in group drinking the camel milk was significantly reduced. Because Camel milk has insulin like activity on cells.
  • In India, camel milk is used therapeutically against dropsy, Jaundice, problems of the spleen, tuberculosis, asthma, anemia, and piles. Patients with chronic hepatitis had improved liver function after being treated with camel milk (Sharmanov etal., 1978). Camel milk is given to the sick, the elderly and the very young because of the belief that it is not only healthier, but works especially well in bone formation (Gast et al., 1969).
  • It can be used in hepatitis, Rota viral diarrhea. Camel milk is a remedy for viruses causing diarrhea (such as Rota virus). An animal study in 2010 indicated that fermented camel milk had a higher content of sodium and potassium and stopped diarrhea in model rats. It can be concluded that fermented camel milk can be considered as a good food for high nutritive and therapeutic applications.
  • Camel milk has lower lactose in comparison with cow’s milk. That’s why it can be consumed by patients intolerant to lactose without undesirable reactions.
  • The incidence of milk allergy in infants and young children is very high. Thus, finding suitable milk for alternative mothers or bovine milks in children was needed. Camel milk can safely be used as an alternative.
  • Camel milk proved its potential effect in the treatment of food allergies. A study has investigated the effect of camel milk on children who were allergic to cow’s milk. Eight children who suffered from food allergies to different degrees participated in the study. They were only given camel milk to drink. It appeared that camel milk has a positive effect in children with severe food allergies. The reactions are rapid and long lasting.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a severe neurodevelopment disorder characterized by impairments in social orientation, communication, and repetitive behaviors. Camel milk provides many benefits, especially for autistic children. Camel milk is traditionally used in autism treatment in some areas of the world.
  • Camel milk has high concentration of calcium and iron, and low pH of the milk allows enhanced absorption from the duodenum. It also contains higher amount of zinc. The rapidly dividing cells of the immune system are sensitive to zinc deficiency. The role of zinc in the development and maintenance of normally functioning immune system has been well established (Hansen et al., 1982).

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