Camel milk has a great taste. But that’s not why Americans are beginning to drink it.
People with diabetes are drinking it to help us reduce our blood sugar and to reduce the amount of insulin we have to take. Camel milk is one of those rare functional foods that helps us manage our diabetes better.
Camel milk recently became available in the United States. Two years ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of camel milk here. This year Desert Farms in Santa Monica, California, became the first camel milk wholesaler in the U.S. It is now on the shelves of natural food stores in California, including 40 Whole Foods Markets in the northern part of that state. By the end of this month Whole Foods will have it in its frozen food cases at 32 stores in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Utah.
Whole Foods only carries pasteurized camel milk, but since raw camel’s milk is legal in California, another retailer in that state, Lassen’s, sells both raw and pasteurized camel milk in its 10 stores. Desert Farms will also ship it to your door.
I have drunk both raw and pasteurized camel milk from Desert Farms. It tastes to me essentially the same as 2 percent milk from cows, which has a similar fat content. Camel milk, whether raw or pasteurized, has 4.5 grams of total fat per 8 ounces, while 2 percent cow’s milk has 5 grams in the same serving size.
Camels are rare in the United States, which is the main reason why camel milk is considerably more expensive than cow’s milk. There are 18,000 cows for every camel in the United States, the Desert Farms website says.
We have only 3,000 to 5,000 camels here, according to two different estimates. And many of them work in circuses or live in zoos. Almost one-third of the estimated 19,000,000 camels in the world live in Somalia, where camel milk is readily available, along with Sudan, Kenya, India, and Saudi Arabia. When the U.S. Agency for International Development sent me to Somalia in 1963, I didn’t drink any camel milk, although I saw thousands of camels herded by Somali nomads and brought back an authentic pair of wooden camel bells.
Between Hargeisa and Arabsyio, Somalia, December 1963
The founder of Desert Farms, Walid Abdul-Wahab, came to this country from his native Saudi Arabia. But most of the camel ranchers he works with are Amish and Mennonite people in the Midwest.
“The average herd is about six camels,” Walid told me. “And most of the work is still done by hand.”
He is working to bring down the cost of camel milk. “We are buying more camels and breeding them,” he told me.
Walid said that a lot of his customers are drinking camel milk to help them manage their diabetes. “One of the usual comments that we hear from our customers is that after drinking camel milk for a week, it drops their blood sugar and decreases the amount of insulin they have to inject.”
Walid doesn’t claim that camel milk is a medicine, a supplement, or a functional food. But he did go on to mention to me that I could find a growing number of medical studies on camel milk in the PubMed database. Today I found 320 studies there, including 18 when I limited the search to “camel milk diabetes.”
Some of the most interesting research reports studied the insulin in camel milk. French scientists reported two decades ago that “relatively large concentrations [of insulin] are present in the [camel] milk.” While some insulin is also found in the milk of other animals, including cows, a radioimmunoassay of camel milk “has revealed high concentration of insulin., i.e. 52 units/l,” according to a study in India.Insulin is, of course, a protein, which is normally destroyed in the stomach. But an Israeli report on “Insulin in Milk – A Comparative Study,” found that camel milk is unique in that it does not react to the acid in the stomach so it passes into the intestines ready for absorption. This study concludes that “there is a scientific justification for drinking camel milk by certain diabetic patients.”
Note, however, that some of these studies probably used raw camel milk in their tests. Pasteurization can denature the insulin in camel milk, but it depends on “the length of time and amount of heat that is applied.” The Desert Farms camel milk is “gently pasteurized.” Walid tells me that when he pasteurizes the camel milk he sells, it is for 30 minutes at 145°F.
Camel milk also has an anti-inflammatory effect, according to a Saudi study. That study went on to note a “significantly lower fasting glucose level.”
Yet another study, this one by researchers in Egypt, concluded that “daily ingestion of camel milk can aid metabolic control in young type 1 diabetics, at least in part by boosting endogenous insulin secretion.” This was a 16-randomized week of 54 young people (average age 20) with type 1 diabetes. Each day they got 500 mL of camel milk, which is about 2 cups.
The most impressive studies include several led by Rajendra Agrawal, senior professor, Department of Medicine, Diabetes Care and Researrch Centre, Sardar Patel Medical College in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. This college is in the middle of the Thar desert, which has lots of camels.
One of seven published studies of camel milk led by Professor Agrawal compared camel and cow’s milk in people with type 2 diabetes as well as non-diabetics. This study of 28 men concluded that in people with type 2 diabetes camel milk reduces fasting blood sugar, post-prandial glucose, and A1C levels. In five months of the study the average A1C level went down from 8.4 to 7.3, while it went up among those taking cow’s milk. “It shows hypoglycemic effect of camel milk reducing insulin resistance.”
Milk isn’t a low-carbohydrate food. Two cups of cow’s milk has 23 grams of carbohydrate, and the same amount of camel milk has 22 grams. I don’t drink cow’s milk because this amount is close to half of the carbs that I consume each day. But I certainly would add whatever amount of camel milk to my diet that I needed if I weren’t otherwise able to keep my diabetes in check.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.
Never Miss An Update
Subscribe to my free newsletter “Diabetes Update”
I send out my newsletter on first of every month. It covers new articles and columns that I have written and important developments in diabetes generally that you may have missed.
My son now he is 4 years old he was allergic to milk,peanuts,egg,chocolate, cat,dogs he used raw camel milk only 1 month and all allergies gone.dr re test him he was surprised that peanuts allergies doesn’t go whole life .but my son is eating egg and peanuts daily
That’s wonderful news, Homi! Thanks for sharing it with us.
no mention of powdered camels milk and if it would still retain all benefits of the real unpasteurized version. also i eat 75 to 100 carbs a day and am insulin dependant. you limit yourself to 50?
thanks for great info!
Yes, I do limit myself to 50 grams of carbs/day, Mike. But I didn’t mention powdered camels milk because I don’t know if and where it is available.
May you tell how to get camel milk to Mozambique?
If it possible I want the order soonest.
Thank you a lot for the advise and god bless you.
Thanks & regards
Actually, I am the diabetes journalist who has written about camel milk. I don’t sell it. You will need to contact the company that you wish to obtain it from. Good luck, Charles.
Please send me the all information about camel milk and diabetes on my email.
My article has essentially all of it that I have, Mohammad. For more, I recommend that you contact the company.
Dear David Mendosa,
I have been patient of diabetes for last 4 years and taking medicines to reduce sugar; but I heard that milk of camel will be better cure for diabetes. Fortunately, I found your website and read your valuable comments and scienticfic research on camel milk, it shows that it is real better cure against medicines for diabetes. After reading it, it supports me very comfortably.
USA Camel milk is FAR TOO EXPENSIVE
Check out http://www.camelac.com
Around 50% cheaper!
Very interesting! Thank you for your comment. Do you drink it yourself, Martin? Do you work for Camelac?
I’m also trying to help my mother who has type 2 Diabetes. I found a website to order the camel milk but how much does she need to drink in order to see results?
That’s a tough question! Basically, since we are all different, I can’t answer it. She (or you) need to monitor her progress carefully and in particular check her blood sugar regularly two hours after the first bite of at least the biggest meal of the day. Please let us know in a few months how well she is doing.
This article states how much type 1 diabetics were consuming, but how about type 2? I’m looking into things that may help my mom who is type 2, but at this point does not take injections.
This is very interesting and I wonder if less pausteurization of cow’s milk would retain some of the insulin in it. I has more fat, I don’t see that as a bad thing at all.
Good question, but the studies don’t show that cow’s milk has any available insulin even when the milk isn’t pasteurized. And in some states, including here in Colorado, you CAN buy unpasteurized cow’s milk.
Interesting stuff on Camel Milk.
Has anyone seen this talk on Diabetes on Amazing Discoveries TV. It is life-changing. See link below – http://amazingdiscoveries.tv/media/899/909-diabetes/
I hadn’t heard of that talk or that doctor before. But he makes a whole lot of sense. Thank you.
Well damn David – which part am I right about? That you are a treasure?
You can’t trick me into saying that!
This is absolutely fascinating! I am definitely going to explore the possibility of getting some. I have been on the Whole30 plan for the last six weeks, so haven’t had any dairy at all.
I do miss a little cream in my coffee so this might fit the bill.
David you are a true treasure for the diabetic community. Thank you so much. Truly!!!
Thank you. You are partly right!
Is getting it shipped to your state the only way of purchasing it if you do not live west of the Mississippi River? A bit expensive!
Yes, that’s right. At least so far. They are trying to bring down the price.