According to the US CDC, 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder, and the numbers appear to be increasing. There is no cure for autism, but early intervention is often successful in helping to improve the long-term quality of life. Many parents believe that nutrition plays a big role in their child’s autism treatment, and some have discovered the benefits of camel milk. Unlike cow milk, camel milk does not have certain components which may contribute to problems in autistic children. What it does have are important nutrients which may benefit children and alleviate the problems caused by autism.
The link between casein, a protein found in milk, and behavior associated with autism has not yet been proven. Yet many parents have reported improved behavior in their children after putting them on a diet free of casein. Camel milk does contain casein, but a different variety. Cow milk contains A1 beta casein, while camel milk contains A2 beta casein. Undigested proteins from cow milk can damage the gut, and new research is beginning to show a connection between the gut and the functions of the brain. In particular, A1 beta casein breaks down in the gut into a substance similar to morphine. The low levels may cause only a small behavioral change in most people, but those on the autistic spectrum may become more easily agitated and withdrawn.
Parents of autistic children may choose to avoid milk products altogether in order to avoid casein, but camel milk provides a number of nutrients that make it more than just an alternative to cow milk. A two-week study by King Saud University on the effects of camel milk on autistic children aged 2-12 years old tested the effects of raw camel milk and boiled camel milk with a placebo group receiving cow milk. The study showed that in the two groups drinking camel milk, the cells of their body experienced a much lower degree of oxidative stress. The children in those two groups also had a decrease in behavioral problems and an improved score on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale.
For many who have chosen to make camel milk a part of their autistic child’s diet, the results have been amazing. Parents have reported that their children showed better socialization, better communication skills, and were less likely to become upset. A common theme has been that autistic children regularly drinking camel milk were sleeping better, and this also helped their overall mood. Many also had less of a problem with constipation. Often, children begin showing improvement right away. Some parents said symptoms returned soon after stopping drinking camel milk, while others found that the progress their children made continued even after they stopped.
Take for example the story told by Amy about her son who had many challenges due to his condition. Amy kept a detailed account of her son’s reaction to camel milk. He drank just 10 oz per day, and after just 7 days, his sleep patterns had improved and he became more communicative. After a month, she felt he was calmer and more willing to try new things.
Author Christina Adams wrote a much more detailed patient report on the effects of a camel milk on her autistic son for the Global Advances in Health and Medicine journal. Christina was one of the first Americans to begin experimenting with camel milk. It was not widely available in 2007 when she learned about it, and she had to get a doctor’s approval to have it imported from Isreal. As soon as her son began drinking camel milk, he began making more eye contact and expressing emotions. Christina noted that whenever her son stopped drinking the milk for a time, his behavior deteriorated, but improved again when he began drinking it again. Christiana didn’t stop using traditional therapies for autism but she was convinced that much of her son’s improvement was due to including camel milk in his diet.
Every case is different, and some parents report no change at all, but the growing amount of anecdotal evidence has made many parents of children with autism spectrum disorder decide to give camel milk a try. More research needs to be done, but even reports in respected scientific journals are concluding that camel milk is effective in treating autism. It may not be a miracle cure, but camel milk may work where other treatments have failed.
NOTE: Camel milk is not a medicine or a recognized treatment for autism. As with all health issues, you should consult a physician before a change in diet.