Camel milk has many healing properties. It has been used to treat health problems for many decades, but it is only recently that researchers have observed its effect on childhood allergies.
With childhood food allergies becoming more common, estimated in the UK to occur at a rate of 1 in 20 children, doctors and researchers are looking for improved ways to treat and prevent these allergies. That makes the discovery of camel milk’s anti-allergy potential pretty important!
But before we take a look at camel milk’s amazing properties, let’s dive into childhood allergies. What causes them, how do they affect children, what are traditional food allergy treatments, and how can camel milk improve your child’s food allergy?
Possible Causes of Food Allergies
While there is no single cause of food allergies, scientists have identified many factors that may work together to promote them.
How Genetics Affect Child Food Allergies
It is widely accepted that genetics play a large role in food allergies. Studies have recorded that children with family members who have food allergies are more likely to develop allergies themselves.
In a test of 50 children with peanut allergy, 7% of siblings presented with a peanut allergy. But it is known that genetics cannot be entirely responsible for food allergies.
Low Levels of Vitamin D and Food Allergies
Low vitamin D levels may be a factor in food allergies. A 2010 study examined correlation between season of birth and food allergy, noting that babies born in winter or fall had less exposure to vitamin D from sunlight.
Researchers observed that in children less than five years old, those born in fall or winter had a 53% higher chance of developing food allergies, as opposed to those born in spring or summer. These findings suggest that vitamin D from UV rays is important in preventing food allergies.
Lack of N-3 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
A lack of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids could also encourage the development of food allergies. These fatty acids are very important for regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation, qualities that are thought to lower risk of food allergies. In fact, it’s been observed that consuming fish from age 0–1 lowers the risk of food allergy by 24% for children up to age 4.
Childhood Food Allergies Carry Into Adulthood
Food allergies happen when the immune system mistakenly overreacts to normal foods, triggering reactions like swelling, vomiting, and rashes.
When children develop a food allergy, it can have a far-reaching effect on their lives. For some young people, their allergy will affect social interactions — it’s hard to eat out or go to a friend’s house for dinner when contact with peanuts can cause anaphylaxis. Not only that, food allergies may be costly — EpiPens, hypoallergenic foods, and health care come with a high price tag.
Not only do childhood food allergies affect social interaction and finances, but one study found that 35% of participants with food allergy went on to develop asthma, with that rate increasing if the child had more than one food allergy. What’s more, childhood food allergies are the leading cause of anaphylaxis-related death in children and teens.1
Diagnosing Common Food Allergies
While there are many different food allergies, people are most commonly allergic to chicken eggs, peanuts, cow milk, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish; these make up 50% of food allergies.
People may suspect an intolerance when they have food allergy symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, or swelling. To be officially diagnosed, doctors will commonly use prick testing, blood analysis, self-reporting, or double-blind food challenges.
If you wonder whether you child has a food allergy, it’s a good idea to get tested by a doctor. Though many food allergies present mild symptoms, some can be life-threatening.
Traditional Management and Prevention of Food Allergies
Many different methods are traditionally used to manage and prevent food allergies, including immunotherapy, early introduction of foods, altering breastfeeding diets, and medical therapies.
Immunotherapy for Food Allergy
One method of managing food allergy is immunotherapy. The theory behind immunotherapy is that the body gradually becomes used to an allergen when it is reintroduced in small amounts over time.
For example, someone with an egg allergy would eat a very small amount of egg, slowly increasing portion sizes overtime. Some studies have tested this approach with modest improvement in patients, but further study is needed to see if this is a safe approach for people with allergies.
Early Introduction of Foods
Early introduction of foods is sometimes used to prevent food allergy. A 2016 review suggests that introducing certain common allergens to babies as young as 4-6 months can reduce food allergies.
Specifically, the review looked at studies that introduced eggs and peanuts to babies. It was found that if children between 4-6 months were introduced to eggs, their risk of food allergy declined by 40%. When introduced to peanuts between 4-11 months, risk of allergy declined by 70%.
For breastfeeding mothers of children with food allergies, an altered diet may be suggested as a management option. In this case, the mother would remove foods that were thought to irritate the child. One study found that if mothers adopted a low allergen diet, colic in their children were significantly reduced.
Medical Therapies for Food Allergies
Medical therapies are also used to treat food allergies. Various pharmaceutical drugs have been observed to reduce symptoms of food allergy, such as thymomodulin, which improved skin lesions caused by food allergies when combined with an elimination diet.
Camel Milk for Food Allergies
Unfortunately, traditional treatments don’t work for some children; these children and their families are left looking for an effective alternative.
That’s where camel milk comes in.
A 2005 study published in Immunology and Allergies investigated camel milk’s effect on children with a variety of food allergies.
The study followed the cases of eight children with serious food allergies; all children were also allergic to cow milk and had been treated with conventional therapies unsuccessfully.
The children ranged from 4-10 years of age and experienced symptoms including diarrhea, asthma, skin rashes, and vomiting.
For 30 days, they were monitored while being treated with camel milk. During this time, children drank camel milk for two weeks while fasting from all other food. After two weeks, they resumed eating other foods.
Researchers observed that after 24 hours all children experienced an improvement in food allergy symptoms, and the remaining symptoms were gone within four days.
After two weeks, one child was able to eat foods that had previously prompted allergic reactions. Her condition remained stable after ceasing the treatment.
Another child whose symptoms had disappeared during the study experienced severe ear infections two months after ceasing treatment with camel milk. The child began treatment with camel milk again and experienced a full remission of symptoms within 48 hours.
These findings are exciting for children living with allergies who have not had success with traditional treatment. Though camel milk has yet to be tested on a larger group, the results of this study suggest it may be able to improve symptoms of childhood food allergy.
If your child is living with food allergy, consider trying camel milk as a way to help reduce symptoms. Its healing properties are well documented and, who knows, it could be just what the doctor ordered!