Quackery Exposed: Raw Camel's Milk for Autism




When I came across this, it was through an Autism One quack, who is white,  saying that raw camel milk "improved autism symptoms." I hyper focused on this and did not realize it has a cultural significance so I broadened this blog in order to not harm anyone. 


Camels are Mentioned in the Qur'an

The camel is mentioned as a particularly important animal of the Arabian Peninsula under various terms:
  • al-ibi (plural)
  • al-naqah (female camel)
  • al-jamal (male camel)
  • al-ba-ir (gender neutral camel)

Camels are an Important Part of Middle Eastern Culture

Camels have been at the center of life in the Middl East for many years and have played roles in transportation, food, entertainment and so much more. It is a symbol of Middle Eastern heritage and is a center of Middle Eastern culture. 



Folk Medicine

Before modern medicine, camels were used in folk medicine. It has been reported in the pre-Islamic era and has been written in various written Islamic sources. 

Some of these sources were written by Al-Bukhari, an Islamic scholar.  In his writings, it was written that some people arrive din the Madinah area and felt sick because of the climate. The Prophet told them to drink the milk and it says they recovered and were healthy. 

The Persian Scholar Avicenna, author of the book Al-Qanun. He reports "for the Beduin people, camel urine remains an important natural remedy for different health problems." 

The urine had to come from a female camel. Milk was added to mask the odor. This type of treatment lasted a few weeks. 

Food Source

Camel meat has been an important part of Middle Eastern cuisine and the milk also provided subsistence since there was no cow in the Middle East until they were imported. Camel meat is still popular today and is served to commemorate special occasions such as Eid and National Day. Camel milk is used to make chocolates, yogurt, cheese and biscuits and visitors from all over flock to try it. 

Transportation


Camels were the key mode of transportation in the Middle East for people and supplies. They would carry people across the desert in extreme heat in search of water. It is no longer necessary today as people have vehicles with 4 wheel drive. There are camel tours all over the Middle East to give people a taste of early life there. 



Wool





Camel wool was a fabric that had multiple uses. It was used to make a lot of essential items such as clothes, rugs and tents. There are various arts and crafts made using camel wool and this played a key role in local expression through creativity. 



Currency and Status Symbol

Throughout history, camels have served as a status symbol. Wealth was demonstrated by the number of camels a family owned. They were also used as a form of currency. They were used to pay a bride's dowry called a zakat. Camels were very profitable if they win races or beauty contests. Prizes included food, useful animals and other useful things. 

Entertainment


Camels have entertained Middle Eastern people for years. This was usually by races and beauty contests. Even presently, camel racing is a very popular sport. Continuing camel races is a way of preserving culture. In the UAE there are 15 camel racing tracks. They feature state of the art facilities in line with the modernization of the country. Past prizes included food and other essentials, today's prizes are more extravagant such as large checks or cars. 

Camel beauty contests are another form of traditional entertainment. The most expensive camel was sold for 10 million AED ($2,722, 855.50 or 2 million UK pounds). 

What is Camel Milk?

Camel milk is milk that comes from the udder of a female camel. It is quite expensive. Its 30% more in price than cow's milk. Compared to 600 million metric tons of cow milk that is produced, only 3 million tons of camel milk are produced each year. 

Much Different From Cow Milk


Camel milk has a different make up than cow milk. It is lower in saturated fat, has 10 times the vitamin C and has more calcium and potassium than cow's milk.

 It is high in vitamin A, B, C, D, E, calcium and kalium. It is also high in antioxidants which help prevent damage to cells that can lead to serious diseases. 

The lactose concentration is also lower than cow's milk. It seems to be healthier than cow milk and good for people who are lactose intolerant. It is a good alternative to cow's milk because the protein is different than cow's milk. 

One cup contains:
  • 107 calories
  • 5.4 grams of protein
  • 4.6 grams of fat
  • 3 grams of saturated fat
  • 11 grams of carbohydrates
  • 8 grams of sugar (lactose)

Camel milk is important to many cultures across Africa and the Middle East. There are some cultures that rely on it. Somalia and Kenya produce 64% of the world's camel milk. 

Why the Cost is High


The company Camelcous in Dubai, UAE owns over 6,000 camels on its farm and produces 4 million liters of milk annually. 

The demand for camel milk is increasing daily and its hard to keep up with the demand. The reason the price is so high is because there is a demand for it. They need to be careful to care for the camels so they are not over milked. They can lose calcium that they need to be healthy. 

Cows produce 50 liters per day while camels produce 7 leaders per day. In 3 years there is a maximum of 4,000 to 7,000 liters. 

Australia is Helping with Increased Demand

Marcel Steingiesser gave up a 14 year mining career to put his energy into a career that was better, in his opinion, Australian camel milk.  This is because the demand is high all over the world. There are not enough camels world wide to keep with with the demands. 

Australia is attempting to fill this gap. This is because it is home to the biggest herd of wild camels in the world. 

"We have the opportunity to make the best camel milk," Steingiesser said. "Australia has an incredible reputation in food quality safety standards and thats a great opportunity for all camel diaries in Australia."

In Australia, camels are considered an invasive species. They were once introduced in the 1840's to help explorers navigate the large continent. The camels and thier handlers, called Afghan cameleers, helped develop transport links. 

Camels are normally culled by helecoptor in remote areas. The mob of camels grow 8% per year. The population could double in the decade to 2020, according to the 2010 report. 

Australian law allows for people to capture and domesticate them. 

Steingiesser's company Good Earth uses camels that already exist in the wild in Australia. This makes it easy to expand quickly. They currently have 100 camels and is aiming to expand to a total of 3,330 by June 2020. They could produce 10,000 liters per day or about 6 liters per milking camel. 

How Camels are Cared for

Camelicous milks 1,300 camels twice a day, to give the camels a break so they aren't milked daily. There are a lot of people who have a job in making sure the camel are well cared for. When camels arrive, they are quarantined then are checked for different diseases and treated if needed. 

They do milk training before they get milked. They are trained to milk without calves and its is very intense work. They recognize that every camel is an individual. For some camels the training takes 2-3 days but for mother's it can take weeks. 

They provide a relaxed, calm atmosphere for the camels during the milking process. A stressed camel cannot produce milk. 

Unlike the dairy industry, where male calves are killed and disposed of, every camel is kept near its young to continue producing milk. Two animals will need to be kept fed and healthy to produce 7 liters of milk each day. 

Camels eat alfalfa hay and wheat plant. They are not given any concentrates or feed any additives. 

The owner of Camelicous stresses that the "camel is a different species, so we didn't want and still don't want to turn them into milking machine because we are thinking long term. We would like to have a long production life here with these camels on this farm."

Quackery Claims About Raw Camel Milk:

The quacks culturally appropriate camel milk to say that it cures autism. It is a mockery of the Middle Eastern culture and they should be ashamed of themselves, but everyone knows they are not. 

They claim that raw camel's milk should be used along with the help of a trained physician. It is used as medicine. Only a few drops or a teaspoon to begin with. They say it can overstimulate the immune system if used too heavily or too quickly. The probiotic strains can cause similar changes and increasing benefits that are similar to increasing any good bacteria and giving good quality probiotics. 

The claimed benefits of raw camel milk are:
  • may reverse allergies
  • may increase words and speech
  • help balance the GI tract
  • calmer moods
  • weight gain
  • reduces acid reflux
  • increases empathy
Claims that children who are autistic have co-infections, or comorbid symptoms, such as mold biotoxins, Lyme disease, and compromised immune systems. 

FDA's Stance on Camel's Milk

FDA Conditionally Approved 

In 2012, the FDA ruled that camel milk could be sold in the US. In order for the sales to be legal, they must comply with the same state licensing requirements as other dairies in the state, including all the necessary food safety and health standards in place.

These safety standards require milk to be pasteurized, which involves being heated to 166 degrees F for 15 seconds. This process kills viruses, parasites and bacterial pathogens such as E. coli, lister, salmonella and campylobacter. 

On a national level, the FDA prohibits the distribution or sale of raw milk across state lines. 

In April 2016, 13 states allow raw milk to be sold in stores as long as it meets state standards. 8 states allow the acquisition of raw milk only through a herdsman-share agreement. This is referred to a loophole by public officials, people pay for share of an animal or herd and aren't considered buying the milk. 

20 states prohibit the sale of raw milk. 

Warning about Raw Camel Milk Safety and Not to be Used Medicinally to "Cure" Any Conditions

A Saudi businessman that runs a California based raw milk network has been making illegal claims that raw camel milk has therapeutic benefits for autism, tuberculosis, chronic disease, allergies, and diabetes.  This claim is supported by Jodie Dashore

The FDA sent a warning letter to the businessman. This letter outlines the violations that he committed and the letter has ordered him to stop. This letter was dated in 2016.

"The therapeutic claims on your website and Facebook page establish that these products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease. As explained further below, introducing or delivering these products for introduction into interstate commerce for such as violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act."

"Various products, including raw camel milk MMS, and essential oils. These products have been marketed as a treatment for autism or autism-related symptoms, but have not been proven safe and effective for these advertised uses."

On September 22, 2021 Camel Milk Co received an FDA warning letter too. They outline the false statements made on the site. They claim that camels milk can cure covid 19 and autism. This is simply not true.

Risks:

Raw milk from cows, sheep, goats or any other animal that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria can be dangerous. Raw milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as :
  • salmonella
  • E. Coli
  • Listeria
  • Campylobacter
  • Others that cause foodborne illnesses, called food poisoning
These bacteria can seriously injure the health of anyone who drinks raw milk or eats products made from raw milk. This can be especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, children, older adults, and pregnant women. According to the CDC, foodborne illness especially affects children and teenagers. 


Sources:
https://naturallyrecoveringautism.com/2017/07/04/benefits-camels-milk/

https://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article144265774.html
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bm3zy5/fda-warns-la-wellness-hipsters-that-camel-milk-is-not-a-miracle-cure
https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/be-aware-potentially-dangerous-products-and-therapies-claim-treat-autism
https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/dangers-raw-milk-unpasteurized-milk-can-pose-serious-health-risk




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