The article was originally written by DR. IZABELLA WENTZ, PHARM D
I have found that camel milk does have some interesting healing properties that may be of use in helping to heal Hashimoto’s. In fact, the World Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences published a review article of all of the medicinal properties of camel milk:
- Helps in reducing nutrient deficiencies. Camel milk is nutrient dense, containing higher amounts of potassium, iron, and vitamin C compared to cow’s milk. Iron is a very common depletion in Hashimoto’s.
- Shows promise in resolving food sensitivities. Yosef Shabo, an Israeli doctor, reported a study of 8 children with various levels of food reactions (allergies and sensitivities) to cow’s milk dairy.1Camel milk was well tolerated by the children AND reduced/eliminated their food sensitivities. In some cases, even to cow’s milk! The effects in some of the children were permanent when the camel milk was discontinued; in others, the reactions returned after stopping camel milk.
- Aids in resolving infections. We know that infections, especially gut infections, have been linked to Hashimoto’s. Camel milk has antimicrobial and antiviral activity, and has been reportedly effective against dysbiotic bacteria like E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, and even Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), a difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat the infection. All of the above have been linked to Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions.
- Promotes blood sugar balance. Camel milk contains encapsulated insulin nanoparticles that can pass through our stomach and get into our circulation! These molecules can lower blood sugar. Human milk and cow’s milk also have insulin; cow’s milk insulin is not absorbed by humans, but human milk insulin does get absorbed (at least by babies per the research). Orally administered insulin from human milk has been shown to promote gut maturation and to reduce intestinal permeability to macromolecules in infants, lowering their likelihood of Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition.2 Without further research available, I am assuming this is due to a phenomenon is known as oral tolerance—when a small amount of a substance is introduced into the body via the mouth and the immune system (in the presence of an adequate gut barrier) accepts the substance. I was surprised to learn how useful camel’s milk is for people with Type 1 diabetes! One study of 24 people with Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent autoimmune diabetes) found that camel milk was a safe and effective adjunct therapy to insulin in type 1 diabetes, helping people have better blood sugar control and reducing their requirements for insulin (about 50%) when used over the course of 2 years. Three of the 12 people studied were able to completely wean off insulin after a year or so. The researchers think that was partially due to the camel milk’s immune modulating properties. I have not heard of many other interventions that have helped people with Type 1 diabetes wean off insulin.3 A study of the anti-diabetic agents of camel milk
- Contributes to thyroid hormone balance. Camel milk contains T4 and T3 hormones and may support thyroid hormone levels. While human milk also contains T3 and T4, researchers have stated that it is not relevant to human infants and that formula fed babies will suffer no ill effects by receiving formula devoid of thyroid hormone. (Author’s note: The sponsor of this study was not disclosed and studies show breastfed babies have better health outcomes).4 In contrast, thyroid hormones in camel milk are reportedly relevant to baby camels, helping them with the maturation of their small intestine.5 While ample research has shown that insulin from camel milk is absorbed by humans, I have not found research suggesting that camel milk thyroid hormones are absorbed by humans. However, based on some of the positive results I have seen with thyroid patients, I suspect that the thyroid hormones in camel milk may be of some benefit. (Please note: The levels of thyroid hormones in camel milk are highest within 30 days of giving birth. On average, camels lactate for 9 months to one year.)
- Supports immune system balance. IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) therapy is a medically prescribed therapy that can suppress thyroid antibodies by using immune cells isolated from blood donation.6 However, due to its cost (in 2006, a 4-course therapy cost around $25,000)7, side effects (common: flu-like symptoms; rare: infection, skin peeling, fluid overload, kidney damage, liver damage, and meningitis), and difficult route of administration (through a slow intravenous infusion that has to be given every 3-4 weeks), the therapy is usually reserved for Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy, an acute, life-threatening condition where thyroid antibodies attack the brain. Camel milk has been called the “poor man’s IVIG,” because it contains immunoglobulins that can modulate the immune system. Camel immunoglobulins pass from the camel milk into our bloodstream and have shown potential in modulating the immune system. They are also less likely to cause side effects and are so much more convenient to intake (not to mention a lot cheaper!!).Camel! A One in All Creatures
- Reduces thyroid peroxidase antibodies. Lactoferrin in camel milk is reportedly 71% similar in relation to human thyroid peroxidase, which may help our bodies to regain acceptance of our own thyroid peroxidase enzymes, potentially reducing thyroid antibodies via the oral tolerance mechanism. Oral tolerance is an immune modulating intervention that introduces tiny amounts of the reactive substance in an easily digestible and absorbable way to teach the body that the substance is safe (similar to how allergy shots work). This method has been utilized in thyroid disease using thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin from human thyroid glands.8 More research is needed in this area but I think this sounds promising as an adjunct to other lifestyle changes. I’m guessing that if you are not interested in taking extracts from human thyroid glands, camel milk is a more viable option!
**Please note: The camel milk has to be raw and it can’t be boiled in order for it to retain many of these properties. Freezing and pasteurizing does seem to retain all of the benefits.9
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