How beneficial is camel milk for children with autism?

By: SONA PARMAR MUKHERJEE

Developments in treating various ailments. Equally, I am very skeptical about supposed miracle cures. Enter camel milk, the recently touted cure-all for autism. As always, the facts.

A few weeks ago, I explained why autistic children should not take cow’s milk. It contains certain proteins that essentially damage the gut, which then in turn adversely affect the brain.

It appears that the partially digested proteins have a similar effect on the brain as opiate drugs such as morphine. The specific proteins in question are beta-casein and beta-lactoglobulin.

So, what does this have to do with camel milk? Well, unlike its bovine counterpart, camel milk does not contain these proteins, so it does not cause the complications I talked about.

Evidence suggests that camel milk highlights certain antibodies that may actually be of benefit to an autistic child. Parents who have given their children camel milk have reported better sleep, increased motor planning abilities and spatial awareness, more eye contact, better language, as well as less gastrointestinal problems.

So, if you have an autistic child, should you go looking for camel milk? Not necessarily. According to Professor Yagil, the Israeli veterinarian and camel farmer who first pioneered this work, pasteurisation might denature the very biological factors that help to bring about the supposed healing and anti-inflammatory action of the milk.

NO FORMAL CLINICAL STUDIES

To make camel milk commercially viable, it is pasteurised, a process that uses heat to reduce the bacteria in the milk. While there are no formal clinical studies to confirm this, the potential fragile nature of the milk is confirmed by patients. It appears drinking it in a fresh or raw state best controls the symptoms of their inflammatory diseases.

Pasteurization aside though, another factor which most literature on this subject doesn’t talk about, is that the benefits that are usually observed following the introduction of camel milk can be achieved by simply removing certain offending foods from the child’s diet.

These include gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats), casein (cow’s milk products) and salicylates (salicylates are found in apples, berries, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, plums, prunes, raisins, tangerines and tomatoes).

Rather than rushing out to buy camel milk, I would suggest starting there. In addition to striking out the foods I’ve talked about, eliminate sugar too.

That means cutting out stuff like sweets, cakes, chocolate, fizzy drinks and juices. Once you have noted the benefits, only then would I introduce camel milk. This way, you can see if it has any notable effect.