Denizens of the Middle East, Africa and India have long believed camel milk — loaded with fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins — contains medicinal, aphrodisiac and even magical properties. Now it appears to hold promise for dogs in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, if promise can be derived from a small 2009 study in Tunisia. Researchers at the Arid Land Institute found that dogs given 250 or 500 milliliters of raw camel milk (which is naturally high in insulin) daily experienced a significant and lasting decrease in blood glucose, as well as decreases in protein concentrations and cholesterol levels after three weeks.
It’s one of many studies touted by Millie Hinkle, a naturopathic doctor in Chapel Hill, N.C., who has for years championed the potential for camel milk in treating humans for autism, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, food allergies, Crohn’s and Parkinson’s diseases and more. But until recently, the milk of two-toed ruminants was not available in the U.S.
In 2009, Hinkle successfully lobbied the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to permit the sale of camel milk for the first time. In addition, her company, Camel Milk USA, helps domestic camel dairies get started — using dromedary camels, which are heartier, more productive and more common than the two-humped Bactrian camel. As of June, there were nine established and 13 planned camel dairies — all in states that can legally sell raw camel milk for dogs. (States set their own regulations for raw and pasteurized milk sales.) She also facilitates domestic medical research on camel milk, which currently includes a study focused on treating lymphoma in dogs.
Meanwhile, Hinkle gave camel milk (left over from a study) to her own dog, a young Maltese named Winter. “His behavior changed immediately,” she says. Normally “he’s a barker; he won’t stop. He’s sort of aggressive. We gave him the milk and he became very settled. The barking stopped. I said, ‘Boy, I really need this.’” Fair warning: Winter also gained two pounds in a week.