Respectful Insolence

The Autism File bills itself as a magazine dealing with all aspects of autism. In reality, it’s basically a crank magazine dedicated to autism biomedical quackery plus a generous helping of antivaccine fear mongering. In fact, this passage should tell you all you need to know about the publication:

Autism File is a lifestyle guide to achieving better health. It is written with your needs in mind but is not a substitute for consulting with your physician or other health care providers. The publisher and authors are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of the suggestions, products or procedures that appear in this website. All matters regarding your health should be supervised by a licensed health care physician.

Yep. It’s what we in the science-based medicine biz call the Quack Miranda Warning. And why would anyone expect otherwise? After all, the editorial advisory board includes such luminaries of the antivaccine movement as Andrew Wakefield himself, Anju Usman, and Mary Holland, while featuring Deirdre Imus as a regular contributor. Certainly, I didn’t. However, I will admit that AF gave me something to be amused at recently. I noticed it when everybody’s favorite antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism promoted an article in this particular “journal.” I should point out here, though, that normal, run-of-the-mill autism quackery wouldn’t have caught my attention so much. After all, I can common quack treatments for autism anywhere. Chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, various forms of “biomedical woo,” all of these are uninteresting to me these days because I’ve covered them so many times before; that is, unless there is a new twist that rekindles my interest or I see something that I regard as a “teachable” moment.

Then there’s stuff that’s just plain weird, such as the aforementioned article promoted in the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism titled Got [Camel] Milk? The beauty of this article, if you can call it that, is that it doesn’t have to be about autism, vaccines, or any of the other common tropes, beliefs, and quackeries of the antivaccine movement. It could be about any form of quackery because it relies on the same types of bad reasoning that so many other justifications for unproven treatments for so many other conditions rely on. So, even though this is all about an alleged “treatment” for autism, it’s applicable to any kind of quackery. First, we have claims without any evidence beyond anecdotal:

Nomads in Algeria have long said, “Water is the soul, milk is the life.” They may be proved right by emerging reports that camel milk, the drink of nomadic peoples from Mongolia to India, may have a healing effect on various diseases.

Now parents from around the world, as I did in 2007, are also reporting reduced autism symptoms and increased skills in their ASD children. Better sleep, increased motor planning abilities and spatial aware- ness, more eye contact, better language and lessened gastrointestinal problems are now celebrated in global internet posts.

I guess it’s not completely implausible that there might be something in camel’s milk that can help alleviate autistic symptoms, it’s a claim that needs to have either some basic science behind it to suggest prior plausibility or really compelling clinical evidence that suggests it might have an effect before a science-based physician should take such claims seriously. So, trying to keep an open mind (but not so open that my brains fall out, as I like to say), I read on, looking for evidence. My guess is that my readers will not find it to be a spoiler when I reveal that I didn’t find any.

What I did find are a lot of passages like this one:

Dr. Reuven Yagil, a veteran Israeli camel expert who first described the use of camel milk to treat autism, says, “Autism is not a brain affliction but an autoimmune dis- ease afflicting primarily the intestines.” American-Israeli scientist Dr. Amnon Gonenne agrees that while autism is not defined as an inflammatory disease, it appears that in some cases of autism that exhibit allergic symptoms, there is an active inflammatory component.

Never having heard of Dr. Yagil before, I did what any good blogger should always do when encountering a claim by someone of whom he’s never heard: I Googled him. The first thing that came up was a website whose owner, Dina Amouyal, clearly thinks very highly of Dr. Yagil, Camel Milk for Health. Certainly, Ms. Amouyal was very impressed with Dr. Yagil at a symposium held to tout the benefits of camel milk. And Dr. Yagil is apparently a real academic, an emeritus professor of veterinary medicine, with some 59 publications in PubMed to his name. Not surprisingly, none of the publications, as far as I can tell, actually supports the use of camel milk to treat “autistic enterocolitis,” with the possible exception of maybe one. That one is Dr. Yagil’s most recent peer-reviewed paper that I can find was from 2005 and suggested the substitution of camel milk for cow’s milk in children with milk allergies. This is an unimpressive result, to say the least, in that it should not be surprising that substituting a different kind of milk might alleviate symptoms of cow’s milk allergy. It was also a small, unblinded study of only eight children. In any case, if you want to get an idea of Dr. Yagil’s thinking on the matter, note his presentation. In it, he points out that the in a book on the Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud the author points out that camels were created for milk and given by God to cure all illnesses and poverty, which is certainly a strange way to start out a presentation on the alleged medicinal properties of camel milk.

Christina Adams’ article, unsurprisingly, doesn’t add much to Dr. Yagil’s “evidence,” such as it is.. Her article is long on testimonials and hyperbole and short on actual scientific evidence. For instance, she includes a long testimonial about how camel milk supposedly helped her autistic son “Jonah” (it was Adams, not I, who put the quotes around his name). After a description of her trials and tribulations trying to get raw camel’s milk into the US, including a description of how much money she spent doing it, Adams writes:

Finally, we were ready, and at bedtime one night, I gave him a half-cup of milk with cereal. The next morning, his speech fluidity and eye con- tact was remarkably increased. He stunned me with a new and mature flow of loving ex- pressions, emotions, and complex conversations at the breakfast table. Within three days, he was able to cross the parking lot and street alone. The behavior breakdowns stopped and his eating needs lessened.

After upping the dose to a cup per day–the amount commonly used by adult camel milk users in Israel–he developed an odd jerking move- ment in his arm and some facial grimaces. I lowered the dosage, and the symptoms stopped. The constant white bumps under his cheeks faded and disappeared. His ADHD-specialty school documented improvements in their daily data sheets, and Jonah was able to return to regular public school. He tested with a college-level vocabulary, and his pragmatics and range were even better.

Wow! And, if you believe Adams, camel milk isn’t just good for autism. It’s pretty darned close to being a cure-all:

Eyal Lifshitz, manager of a camel milk research center and owner of Milk From Eden camel farm, believes there are apparent positive responses in patients with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and colitis. Other research suggests that patients undergoing chemotherapy and those suffering from viral infections such as hepatitis may also benefit from camel milk. Even the rare and fatal familial genetic disorder Machado-Joseph is reportedly being treated with camel milk, getting patients “from wheelchair to stick to walking freely” in just months, Lifshitz states.

And if you don’t believe that, then there’s a link to Dr. Yagil’s website OasisMagic, which states baldly that “camel milk is a known cure for many diseases!” There, camel milk is touted as a bactericide, fungicide, and viricide. It’s claimed that camel milk can treat anemia, diabetes, allergies, autism, Crohn’s disease, and even cancer. And you might not believe this, little fella, but it’ll cure your asthma, too. Also, apparently, it’ll cure your erectile dysfunction as well, if we’re to believe Adams, who refers to camel’s milk as “male Viagra,” which struck me as odd, given that males already make up by far the largest group of Viagra users. One worries that there’ll be no camel milk left for autistic children once horny old men find out about this.

Meanwhile, Dr. Yagil laments that he has been derided as a crank and implies that it’s dogma that keeps the scientific world from recognizing what a magical cure-all camel’s milk is.

Again, I must point out that it is certainly not impossible that camel milk might have medicinal properties. It is, after all, made up of proteins, lipids, and a lot of other substances that might result in physiological effects. However, the evidence presented consists of testimonials, uncontrolled tiny pilot studies, and a lot of hand-waving. Moreover, whenever anyone makes claims that something like camel milk can treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders that do not share a common pathophysiology (example: acupuncture), it’s best to be very, very skeptical. Camel’s milk probably isn’t harmful. After all, people have been drinking it for millennia. However, the claims of miraculous medicinal properties are no different than most other claims for miraculous medicinal properties of various natural substances; i.e., they’re not particularly convincing and they’re being made by people selling camel milk.

Camel milk, apparently, is good for one thing. It’s good for Christina Adams getting a speaking gig at this year’s autism quackfest, Autism One. Yes, indeed, Adams will be right there giving a talk Practical Magic: The Benefits and Realities of Camel Milk Therapy for ASD.

Comments

  1. #1 Lawrence
    March 16, 2012

    @Orac – it definitely and immediately raises a huge RED FLAG when something is touted as a cure or treatment for a variety of ailments that have nothing in common with each other (either symptoms, phisiology, affected areas of the body, etc, etc, etc.).

    That is something the woo-meisters just can’t get their heads around – that the body is a very complex system & something that works for one particular ailment may (and most likely) not have any affect on another ailment in the body or even react the same way across large populations.

    Instead, they tout the latest & greatest as some kind of general cure-all, again, without much or even any actual scientific evidence.

  2. #2 Todd W.
    March 16, 2012

    Wait. Camel’s milk cures autism? But what about casein? Aren’t parents supposed to give their children a gluten-free/casein-free diet to cure their kids’ autism? Oh. I bet that camel’s milk doesn’t have any casein in it? Taking a look around, I find that it does. And it looks like the amount of casein in camel’s milk is similar to the amoutn in cow’s milk.

    Where does this leave the GF/CF diet?

  3. #3 RAJensen
    March 16, 2012

    Quack therapies are not the exclusive domain of Age of Autism quackery and Dan doctors. Some of the leading authorities on autism have also promoted quack therapies that turned out either to be no more effective than placebo and several had dangerous side effects.
    Loretta Bender in the 1960′s promoted LSD therapy as an effective treament for autism. Edward Ritvo, an editor of the prestigious Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders promoted fenflouramine as an effective therapy for autism. Independant clinical trials found fenflouramine to be no more effectve than placebo. The FDA had the manufacturers of fenflouromine (a diet pill) remove the product from the marketplace after it was associated with increased risk for heart valve defects. Douglass Bilken an editor of the since renamed Journal of Mental Retardation began promoting ‘facilitated communication’ as a therapy that allowed non-speaking autistic people to communicate by a therapists guiding the hand of the autistic person over a keyboard. Faciltated Communication was denounced by the editors of APA and the Journal of Autism and developmental disorders as akin to being’Oujia Board’ and ventriliquism.
    Eric Hollander less than ten years ago began promoting a liquoid form of Prozac (he holds a patent) as an effective therapy for autism that could be safely used in autistic children as young as two years old. Independant clinical trials funded by Autism Speaks found the liquid form of Prozac to be no more effectve than placebo. He is now touting oxytocin as an effecteive therapy for autism.

  4. #4 palindrom
    March 16, 2012

    RAJensen @ 2 — Oxytocin? I suppose it might help an autistic person — provided she were a pregnant woman well past her due date. It’s used to induce labor.

    Years ago I remember a possible apocryphal story of some drug addicts who broke into a pharmacy and stole some oxytocin, thinking it was oxycontin. I imagine they were disappointed.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    March 16, 2012

    Overnight, huh? Speech and eye contact substantially improved. It only goes to show that autism-( as we’ve learned from AJW ) occurs on the average 6+ days post vaccine- must be caused by an extremely rapid mechanism- going from the injection site to the GI to the PFC, causing profuse cell growth ( and/or massive cell death in other areas) while simultaneously transforming how the brain is organised. Camel’s milk works in reverse, going directly to the GI, by-passing the route via injection, thus eliminating 5+ days.

    I’m sure someone @ AoA or @ Thinking Moms’ Revolution will propose various mechanisms to explain these phenomena which occur without any genetic, pre-natal or peri-natal influences.
    Right.

  6. #6 Todd W.
    March 16, 2012

    Got a comment in moderation, but another thought occurred to me: this is touted as acting like Viagra, which promotes an erection in men. Now, those on the more severe end of the autism spectrum tend to have inappropriate sexual behavior. Assuming that the “male enhancement” claim has any truth to it, is this something we really want to be giving to more severely autistic boys?

  7. #7 Denice Walter
    March 16, 2012

    - OT- but…
    I know it’s on another thread ( “Now Andy…”) but this is more current: I’ve read Jake’s latest and wonder if the good people of RI, because we value science, education and the future, might reach out to him. An educated, articulate person who comments regularly- older and wiser- might perhaps show him why he’s so wrong. Lord knows I’ve tried. It might echo his profs’ words- which I imagine he’s been hearing. It will probably fall on deaf ears but at least we’ve tried. I despise waste.
    I thank you in advance.

  8. #8 _Arthur
    March 16, 2012

    I’ll try mixing camel milk with Royal Jelly and ashes from an icon of St-Guinefort. With a pinch of salt.

    I’ll tell you it that most excellent mixture cured me.

  9. #9 The Midwesterner
    March 16, 2012

    Wow. Thanks for the great article. Now I understand why there is no illness of any kind in the Middle East. Does anyone know where I can purchase a camel milk franchise to bring this magic elixor to the West?

  10. #10 Karl Withakay
    March 16, 2012

    “Finally, we were ready, and at bedtime one night, I gave him a half-cup of milk with cereal. The next morning, his speech fluidity and eye con- tact was remarkably increased. He stunned me with a new and mature flow of loving expressions, emotions, and complex conversations at the breakfast table.”

    “His ADHD-specialty school documented improvements in their daily data sheets, and Jonah was able to return to regular public school. He tested with a college-level vocabulary, and his pragmatics and range were even better.”

    I’m interested to see if Liz Ditz chimes in here.

    This reminds me a bit of the claims of facilitated communication. Autism is a developmental disorder, and some how this child was not only relieved of his developmental disorder, but also somehow seemingly instantly caught up with all the development he was behind in.

    This is a common autism crank claim that autistic children are fully mature and developed (for their age) and merely “locked in” or suppressed in some way.

    Various recent studies give preliminary support to the idea that autism is likely a structural disorder that starts during gestational development due primarily to genetic factors and therefore probably already exists at the time of birth, though externally observable manifestations occur later. If this is the case, than nothing is likely to provide the type of instant cure described in Autism File.

  11. #11 Sheepmilker
    March 16, 2012

    It was a bit like that when sheep milk was re-introduced to the UK and introduced into North America.

    Some people believed that it could cure just about ANYTHING!

    Fortunately, educated people ran the industry associations and tried to get proper research done. The problem with niche markets like this is that the industry is just too small to be able pay for proper studies.

  12. #12 Science Mom
    March 16, 2012

    So goat’s milk and sheep’s milk are too plebeian for cow’s milk alternatives now? It is most likely that camel milk, like goat and sheep have unique, maybe smaller proteins that are more easily digestible than cow milk and why an observation of “improved” when there may just be an alleviation of discomfort and thus simply feeling better. I guess the more exotic and difficult to acquire, the more people will convince themselves of benefit.

  13. #13 taylormattd
    March 16, 2012

    Gross.

  14. #14 thascius
    March 16, 2012

    RAJensen @ 3-the difference between the quacks and mainstream medicine is that mainstream medicine stops promoting the use of ineffective treatments when they are shown to be ineffective. The quacks just keep going and going and going. I remember 12-13 years ago there was excitement about secretin because in open label trials it seemed to help autistic children. Then they did a blinded controlled study and it performed worse than placebo. That was the last I heard of it being used for autism.

  15. #15 Krebiozen
    March 16, 2012

    palindrom,

    some drug addicts who broke into a pharmacy and stole some oxytocin, thinking it was oxycontin. I imagine they were disappointed.

    But they both started lactating and were inseparable ever after…

    I know from experience that camel milk (all milk actually) is drunk after it has been allowed to go sour in North Africa, and probably the Middle East and Asia too, because of their lack of lactase persistence I assume. So if it doesn’t taste sour and have lumps floating in it I doubt it has any benefits ;-)

  16. #16 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 16, 2012

    Sour Lumpy Camel Milk would be a killer album title.

  17. #17 Science Mom
    March 16, 2012

    Sour Lumpy Camel Milk would be a killer album title.

    I agree! It sounds like something The Refusers could do, after their upcoming “Do No Harm” album of course. I wish someone in their sphere would kindly inform them of the awfulness of their “music”. I’m even embarrassed for them.

  18. #18 Ken
    March 16, 2012

    keep an open mind (but not so open that my brains fall out, as I like to say)

    I prefer “not so open that anything at all can crawl in and live there.”

    One advantage of this line of woo is that there are so many mammals out there. Once camel milk is passe, how about yak? You haven’t heard of autistic children in Tibet, right?

  19. #19 Todd W.
    March 16, 2012

    @Ken

    Not exotic enough. Something that wouldn’t normally be milked, like, platypuses. Or if we’re going for places with no autism, go really exotic and claim penguin milk from Antarctica (don’t let them in on the fact that penguins lack mammary glands).

  20. #20 Liz Ditz
    March 16, 2012

    Oxytocin & autism: not so crank/woo: 8 clinical trials on oxytocin and autism.

    Of course, the autism Frankenstein scientists are already touting it as a cure.

  21. #21 herr doktor bimler
    March 16, 2012

    Camel’s milk cures autism?
    Think about it. How many autistic camels do you know?

  22. #22 Roadstergal
    March 16, 2012

    One advantage of this line of woo is that there are so many mammals out there.

    We’re going for the milk of unvaccinated women next, aren’t we. A la the ice cream.

  23. #23 lilady
    March 16, 2012

    “One advantage of this line of woo is that there are so many mammals out there. Once camel milk is passe, how about yak? You haven’t heard of autistic children in Tibet, right?”

    You got that wrong Ken…autism has been diagnosed in Tibetan children, however there is a small community of Amish Tibetans…

    What about this article? Could the consumption of camel’s milk, rather than the MMR jab, be the causative factor for the high rate of autism within the Somali population?

    http://www.everyculture.com/Sa-Th/Somalia.html

  24. #24 Tiny Tim
    March 16, 2012

    What about Auroch’s milk?

  25. #25 Liz Ditz
    March 16, 2012

    Karl Withakay and Orac, I went and read the whole danged article. You two owe me some time & brain cells.

    So here’s what happened to Jonah BEFORE the camel’s milk. The first block quote is from the Amazon page for Adam’s book, A Real Boy* (I won’t link to it, even with Orac’s no follow. See the footnote for why not)

    Adams’s son, Jonah, was two years and eight months old when he was diagnosed as autistic. Eighteen months later, child development specialists evaluating Jonah couldn’t believe he’d had a history of autism. What made the difference? Adams—with the help of her lawyer husband—devoted herself completely to Jonah’s treatment, starting immediately with a rigorous gluten and casein-free diet. They enrolled the young boy in a 40-hour a week, one-on-one ABA (“applied behavioral analysis”) program for autistic children, supplemented with individual speech therapy and physical therapy. Jonah also took various drugs to reduce perseverative behavior and overall anxiety. Adams, a self-described “Autism Mommy,” worked full-time on the intervention process, advocating for Jonah’s needs with the school system so they’d cover his high bills, cooking Jonah’s special foods and interfacing with each therapist privately and then collectively to help Jonah integrate the lessons into real-world situations. It’s pleasing to see Jonah make such a dramatic improvement, although some readers may feel uneasy at how quickly this two-year-old was labeled autistic, or feel disturbed by the intensity of his treatment plan. With the number of children on the autism spectrum growing, Adams’s upbeat, inspirational account has a ready-made market—at least with other autism “super parents.”

    The book was published, I believe Adams went on tour, and then:

    My son “Jonah” was doing exceptionally well, although he still had deficits. But when the book’s publication was followed by marital separation, things took a turn for the worse

    Ya think? Stress, possibly yelling in the household? I don’t know a single child (neurotypical or not) whose behavior improved when parents split up.

    The maneuvering to obtain the camel milk was topped off by the overwhelming legal wrangling from ending my marriage, which delayed me from actually trying the milk with Jonah, wanting to give the effort my full attention.

    Here’s the set-up for the “miraculous improvement” Mommy’s been hell-bent on getting some miracle elixir plus a contentious divorce. Both situations resolve. Think things are calmer in the household? Think Jonah might not know that Mommy’s sure this is going to make him better? Think there’s any confirmation bias going on?

    Then all the bs about the miraculous improvement due to the camel’s milk, and then we read:

    He still needs various medications and a caseinfree diet,

    Autism is a developmental delay, not developmental stasis.

    *Titling an autism book“A Real Boy”. Many curse words in many languages. Autistic children are real people. Autistic adults are real people. Dehumanizing autistics is the first step to saying it’s ok to kill them, and the killer is more to be pitied than the murdered person. Google George Hodgins.

  26. #26 Rogue Epidemiologist
    March 16, 2012

    Is the camel milk pasteurized? If you’re going for dairy woo, why not go for ALL the dairy woo?

    /Coxiella burnettii and Brucella spp.could not be reached for comment.

  27. #27 Christina Adams
    March 16, 2012

    Dear Orac:
    As the writer of “Got Camel Milk,” I’d like to thank you for commenting on my article. Proper identification might be in order: I’m the author of A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention and Recovery (Berkley/Penguin), have written for The LA Times, NPR and The Washington Post and been quoted by Web MD and CHILD. My camel milk article is fully footnoted, and notes that the existing literature is small and most reports are anecdotal.
    I maintain a reasoned yet open-minded approach to the mysterious condition called autism, which differs in expression from person to person. Some people with ASD react behaviorally to foods and other substances in their environment. My son has been under observation by various medical and educational professionals since age two. A UC-Irvine doctor supported the milk in a letter for importation. He’d been on a medically-ordered, non-bovine dairy diet for years, so his reaction to camel milk was not elimination of other substances. I never begin new interventions concurrently. And I never use the word “cure.” I don’t believe autism can be cured currently, only ameliorated. Nor do I accept or dismiss all arguments on vaccines, a topic you invoke but that isn’t in my article.
    Yes, camel milk sounds “weird” to the western ear. It’s hard for most people to maintain a mental “gray area” about autism, but it’s imperative in order to make new discoveries. I did not expect to write about camels, but neither did I expect to have a son with autism. Life, like writing and science, can take an unexpected course.
    Regarding camel milk, here’s a reminder: lithium is a natural element that turned out to help mania, yet acceptance was delayed for decades. It helps to remember that treatments can be discovered outside a lab. I thank you for helping me to call science to investigate camel milk and to quantify the results regardless of outcome.

    Sincerely,
    Christina Adams MFA

  28. #28 Chris
    March 16, 2012

    RE:

    Is the camel milk pasteurized?

    No. Orac says: “After a description of her trials and tribulations trying to get raw camel’s milk into the US, including a description of how much money she spent doing it…”

    I remember seeing a Dirty Jobs episode on camel ranching a while ago. They said they could not sell the milk in California because they refused to pasteurize it. Apparently pasteurization destroys the special camel magic.

  29. #29 JUST WHEN
    March 16, 2012

    Same here..

  30. #30 Sheepmilker
    March 16, 2012

    Casein-free diet?

    Unless camels have completely different biochemistry than every other mammal, there’s casein in that there milk…

  31. #31 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    March 16, 2012

    Yagil’s website CamelMagic contradicts itself on the matter of casein.

    It says this in one place on the website:

    “Camel milk contains caseins but not those that are harmful for the person.”

    And yet, on another page, it claims:

    “Proteins: Camel milk does not contain the allergens that are in cow milk, -casein or lactoglobulin; there is insulin, which is readily absorbed into the blood…” blah blah blah.

    So which one is it?

    The website also states categorically that “cancers are being cured” by the milk. Isn’t that illegal?

  32. #32 Chris
    March 16, 2012

    Ms. Adams:

    Yes, camel milk sounds “weird” to the western ear. It’s hard for most people to maintain a mental “gray area” about autism, but it’s imperative in order to make new discoveries.

    No, it does not sound weird. What it does sound like is another wild goose chase, finding some crazy exotic thing that you want to call a discovery. As Ken said above, perhaps the next “discovery” will be yak milk. They are all just variations of past “discoveries” like secretin or TD-DPMS (something I call “Buttar Cream”, a chelator in a cream).

    You claim the article was “fully footnoted”, yet I looked at the link provided by Orac (hosted at generationrescue) and did not find any citations. Perhaps they did not make it into the online version of your article. You can start by posting the citations, especially the bits about pasteurization making it so that the magic parts of the milk no longer work.

  33. #33 Mark M
    March 17, 2012

    Christina,

    A polite and eloquent response. Very glad to hear you’re not an anti-vaxxer.

    Here’s the problem: you’re assuming camel milk made all the difference. But you don’t know for sure – and you certainly don’t know how.

    You’re also assuming it could do the same for other kids – otherwise you wouldn’t be publicising it like this.

    I don’t doubt your motives are sincere (ie. you’re not about to make millions importing the stuff, a la Wakefield), but I ask you to consider a few points.

    1) You don’t know why this worked in your case. Maybe he only needed the calcium, or Vitamin D, who knows? Must it be camel’s milk? What about other milk?

    2) You fully expected a positive outcome. That’s not good for an impartial report – you know this.

    3) Your sample size is one. He could just be getting better, that’s what people do. The only way to know for sure is, as you know, multiple trials with multiple subjects. That’s not been done.

    Right now, you don’t have enough of a case to justify promoting it with such conviction. You should at least find out what *exactly* seems to make the difference in your son’s case.

    Camel’s milk is extremely nutritious, chock full of vitamins and minerals, proteins, fats. Maybe just one of those made the difference. Maybe nothing did.

    Maybe just being able to drink ANY milk again made the difference. Kids are hard-wired to love the stuff, after all.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  34. #34 lilady
    March 17, 2012

    “A polite and eloquent response. Very glad to hear you’re not an anti-vaxxer.”

    She’s not an anti-vaxer, just a prophylactic rabies vaccine anti-vaxer:

    http://unlockingjake.com/what-the-critics-are-saying/

    Perhaps Christina could provide us with her expert medical opinion about alternatives to prophylactic rabies vaccine and also the mechanism in that particular vaccine that made the child autistic.

    Christina, where are the footnotes that Chris requested?

  35. #35 Liz Ditz
    March 17, 2012

    From Autism One, undated (or couldn’t find a date)

    Christina Adam’s son was said to “regress after DPT shot”. In addition to 35-40 hours a week of ABA therapy, plus numerous hours of other therapies, she had him on anti-viral and anti-fungal medications,plus many other ingested “helps”. Later in the essay, she does not rule out vaccines as causal in autism for “susceptible individuals”.

    You should go read the whole thing.

  36. #36 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2012

    Once camel milk is passe, how about yak?

    I old enough that the first thing this brings to mind is an old Round the Horne script.

    Kenneth Horne: First in the kitchen – our cookery expert, Daphne Whitethigh, with another of her classic recipes.
    Betty Marsden: [...] but when I served my husband with it his immediate reaction on tasting it was -
    Hugh Paddick: Yak!

  37. #37 lilady
    March 17, 2012

    @ Liz Ditz: That’s a great article…she’s anti-vax and she’s not coming back here with the footnotes that Chris requested…busted!

    Orac stated that he “Googled” Dr. Reuven Yagil and then located 59 articles on PubMed for him. I also Googled him, by keying in “Reuven Yagil Age of Autism” and look what I found:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/03/professor-john-walker-smith-exonerated-in-autism-mmr-case.html

    “I have published the aetiology of autism and it is directly related to intestinal problems via cow milk and brain problems are secondary.
    I also have photos taken from the American TV news telling of millions of dollars being awarded to parents who sued that there is a direct relationship between vaccines and autism.
    Prof. Reuven Yagil http://www.camelmilkmagic.com

    Posted by: Prof. Reuven Yagil | March 09, 2012 at 06:10 AM”

  38. #38 Chris
    March 17, 2012

    Wow. Half a dozen years ago we had Buttar Cream, now we have Prof. Yagil’s Magical Camel Milk. New schtick, same old malarkey.

  39. #39 lilady
    March 17, 2012

    I expected “Christina” to come back here to thank Orac for the excellent *publicity* she has gotten for her book and for her article in the Autism File. This *publicity* has more weight in the science community, than her presentations at the Autism One Conferences.

    @ Chris…Buttar Butter? Wasn’t that the salve that Handley used on his child for topical chelation…way back, when J.B. was claiming that it was the thimerisol in vaccines that caused autism?

  40. #40 Chris
    March 17, 2012

    lilady:

    Buttar Butter? Wasn’t that the salve that Handley used on his child for topical chelation…way back, when J.B. was claiming that it was the thimerisol in vaccines that caused autism?

    Exactly.

  41. #41 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2012

    I also have photos taken from the American TV news telling of millions of dollars being awarded to parents who sued that there is a direct relationship between vaccines and autism.

    Prof. Yagil knows what to say to get the marks’ attention.

    topical chelation
    WTF? This is a thing?

  42. #42 lilady
    March 17, 2012

    “topical chelation
    WTF? This is a thing?”

    According to this article, topical chelation is the “WTF Thing” that Lisa and J.B. slathered on their son Jamie to remove all those poisons contained in vaccines:

    http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-4902-curing_jamie_handley.html

    The Handleys also put Jamie on restrictive diets. Wonder why J.B. didn’t have Wakefield order a colonoscopy, MRIs, blood tests and a lumber puncture for Jamie…to test him for autistic enterocolitis?

  43. #43 Narad
    March 17, 2012

    topical chelation

    WTF? This is a thing?

    Sure. Look, it’s dandy:

    -For severe cases of ASD, TD-DMPS is only effective for children under the age of 9 (for a complete cure). It has helped adults and will help everyone who is metal poisoned, especially mercury poisoned.

    -He has had children over the age of 11 with mild autism or adhd, recover completely

    -Viral Titres, allergies metabolic problems like thyroid disorders, which are common in our kids, immune system problems, are all from mercury poisoning

    -Kids on TD-DMPS tend to have growth spurts like crazy, like 2 of his patients who grew 6 inches in 6 months after getting rid of the poison in their bodies

    -Getting rid of the poison, gets rid of the symptoms of autism and the health problems too

    -Transdermal DMPS is a ratio of 4 parts glutathione to 1 part DMPS conjugated with amino acids (My understanding from Tom at College Pharmacy is that it is actually the amino acids that make up glutathione rather than glut itself)

    -The glutathione allows the sulfhydryl to work better and is really a great substance in general especially for chelation and is in every cell of our body and diminishes with old age (healthy elderly people are found to have more of it present in their cells)

    -You may see a worsening of behavior in an ASD child approximately 1-2 months into usage with DMPS, but you may also see improvement in social and speech areas. This improvement is evidence that it is working and you must keep the dose to as maximum as possible even with a rash because the rashes and behavior are temporary. If you stop usage, you will not start back where you left off.

  44. #44 lilady
    March 17, 2012

    It’s way past my bedtime…and fast approaching my wake-up time, Saturday, St.Patrick’s Day.

    Isn’t everyone “Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day? I’ll be cooking the typical holiday cuisine; corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes.

    Happy holiday to you all…

  45. #45 puppygod
    March 17, 2012

    Camel’s milk probably isn’t harmful. After all, people have been drinking it for millennia.

    Well, I don’t know, Orac. After all we have a testimony that

    After upping the dose to a cup per day–the amount commonly used by adult camel milk users in Israel–he developed an odd jerking move- ment in his arm and some facial grimaces. I lowered the dosage, and the symptoms stopped.

    Just imagine what would happen after upping dose to whole bottle. Seizures? Two bottles, death? I mean, I wouldn’t touch that stuff until it is thoroughly tested and FDA approved. I mean, it’s apparently psychoactive.

  46. #46 Chris
    March 17, 2012

    herr dokter bimler:

    WTF? This is a thing?

    The TD-DMPS was made and sold by Rashid Buttar, hence its nicknames: Buttar Cream and Buttar Butter.

    By the way, more often camel milk use in the middle-east is by making it into cheese and yogurt. These are processes that do help remove some of the lactose through bacterial processes, and sometimes even heating the milk enough to kind of pasteurize it (and aging cheese also helps).

  47. #47 David N. Brown
    March 17, 2012

    A question that comes to my mind: What about milk from llamas? Llamas are the closest extant relatives of camels, and probably comparatively easy to obtain in the US. In Mesa, Arizona, I’ve seen them living in back yards.

  48. #48 Sheepmilker
    March 17, 2012

    For your delictation, milk composition of various weird and wonderful animals:

    %fat. % protein. % lactose
    Camel. 5 3.9 5.1

    Goat 4.5 2.9 4.1

    Yak 6.1 5 4.5

    Reindeer* 16.9. 11.5 2.8

    So, goats are your closest to camels in terms of gross milk composition.

    *amazing isn’t it?! However,you apparently only get 30 litres per lactation.

    Weirder species milk compositions available on a postcard from me, pretty sue one textbook has the composition of whale milk!

  49. #49 jrkrideau
    March 17, 2012

    @47 David N. Brown

    Too common? Still I think I know an artesanal cheese-maker who might be able to add it to her product line. We seem to have a fair number of llamas around here.

    Pity about the goats. They could ruin the market.

  50. #50 Liz Ditz
    March 17, 2012
  51. #51 Tara
    March 17, 2012

    So, if Dr. Wakefield and his team are a bunch of quacks, why are Brian Deer and Fiona Goodlee, the skeptics who orchestrated their professional destruction, getting destroyed in court?

  52. #52 ken
    March 17, 2012

    This is becoming ironically my favorite alt med site! ; )

  53. #53 Chris
    March 17, 2012

    Tara, what does Wakefield have to do with camel milk? Please link to the court that is destroying Deer and Godlee. Even if it is off topic, we would love to read the final court documents.

    Or do you just make stuff up and post them on random sets of blog comments?

  54. #54 Prometheus
    March 17, 2012

    I had lots of camel milk, camel yogurt and camel cheese when I lived in Egypt. Can’t say I miss it, though. Maybe it was the local production methods or their (lack of) hygiene, but I found that the camel milk (and its products) had a rather…pungent odor.

    It strikes me that the fascination with camel’s milk is just a variation of the old “rare is better” belief. Once camel’s milk becomes as readily available as – for example – goat’s milk (which used to be quite rare in the US), I strongly suspect it will lose its magical properties. How long before people are touting the health-promoting abilities of shrew’s milk? Or Yeti milk?

    Prometheus

  55. #55 herr doktor bimler
    March 17, 2012

    “Venezuelan Beaver Cheese?”
    “Not today sir, no.”

  56. #56 Bronze Dog
    March 17, 2012

    It strikes me that the fascination with camel’s milk is just a variation of the old “rare is better” belief. Once camel’s milk becomes as readily available as – for example – goat’s milk (which used to be quite rare in the US), I strongly suspect it will lose its magical properties.

    I like to call it “appeal to the exotic.” It’s the same sort of thing I encounter with people who like “Eastern” things over “Western” and why the reverse happens.

    Heck, when I first started watching anime, everything was solid gold, especially Neon Genesis Evangelion. There was almost a supernatural feeling that anime was inherently more awesome than our boring old crap. But these days, I’ve got my own collection, Netflix streaming, and every video store has an anime section. Suddenly, I’m not so enthusiastic about devoting time to yet another Eva clone.

    Of course, alties would do worse with medicine. If some rare herb from the depths of a jungle, growing only on the highest trees, ends up being discovered as a miracle cure, it’ll be shouted from the rooftops by alties until the pharmaceutical companies find a way to mass produce the active ingredient. Once it’s mass produced in climate-controlled greenhouses and processed into purified forms, the alties will talk about how it’s the symbol of Western domination, made in ugly, boring, gray factories to make a dull, perfectly circular, little white pill with a number on it.

  57. #57 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 17, 2012

    So, if Dr. Wakefield and his team are a bunch of quacks, why are Brian Deer and Fiona Goodlee, the skeptics who orchestrated their professional destruction, getting destroyed in court?

    Tara, if you look in the “Recent Posts” list in the left-hand pane, you will see not one but two recent posts that are clearly relevant to Wakefield’s purported vindication (“Now Andy Wakefield will prevail in his libel suit against Brian Deer because John Walker-Smith won his appeal? Not so fast there, pardner…” and “Andy Wakefield exonerated because John Walker-Smith won his appeal? Not so fast there, pardner…”) – relevant, as this post which does not mention Wakefield, Deer or Godlee even once is not. If you choose to post your challenges in inappropriate places, people will inevitably suspect that it’s because you’re actually afraid of getting an answer to your question.

    To apply the “principle of charity” to your question – there is only one recent event that could semi-reasonably be interpreted as “Deer and … Goodlee [sic]… getting destroyed in court”. That is the successful appeal of John Walker-Smith. (No decisions at all have been made yet by the court in the libel suit of Wakefield against Deer and Godlee, so it can’t be that.) It does not actually make much sense to claim that Walker-Smith’s appeal somehow “destroys” Deer and Godlee, either, but since a similar lack of logic is required to believe that Deer and Godlee “orchestrated [Wakefield and his co-defendants'] professional destruction”, with Godlee’s publication in the BMJ coming a full year after the GMC found Wakefield et al. guilty of three dozen charges of deception, dishonesty and other unprofessional conduct, I’ll assume that’s what you do mean.

    Quick quiz: a person is arrested for driving 35 miles an hour in a school zone with a posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour. The person manages to convince a judge that the person riding in the passenger seat with them was the only one who saw the sign, and falsely reported that the sign said 35 miles was okay, and they (the driver) didn’t know that 35 m.p.h. is too fast for a school zone. If the judge says “okay, I believe you; I’m wiping this from your record,” does that mean no one did anything wrong? That everyone who drives 35 m.p.h. in a school zone has been proven innocent? That whoever reported the speeding to the police has just been “destroyed in court”? No. It’s ridiculous. The success of Walker-Smith’s appeal does not prove that what Wakefield’s team did was right or legal or honest, because Walker-Smith’s appeal didn’t argue any such thing. What Walker-Smith argued, and found a judge to agree with, is that he (Walker-Smith) didn’t know the facts that made the team’s actions deceptive and dishonest (such as Wakefield and Barr getting the Legal Aid Board to pay for medical procedures on the Lancet children, when they already knew that those medical procedures would be paid for by the NHS. That’s called double-billing.) If anything, Walker-Smith’s appeal makes things worse for Wakefield, since W-S’s defense is in many instances that did the wrong thing because he relied on Wakefield and Wakefield didn’t tell him what he should have.

  58. #58 lilady
    March 17, 2012

    Tara…have you been reading AoA, again?

    Please read the many article on this site to see how your hero Wakefield will be getting his comeuppance in the Texas courtroom.

    Too bad…if you sent money to the Wakefield Justice Fund…it will be used to pay all of the legal costs incurred by the BMJ, Dr. Godlee and Brian Deer to defend Wakefield’s ill-conceived lawsuit. Then too, there are the “punitive” damages that Wakefield will be paying, that may be awarded to the BMJ, Godlee and Deer under the Texas anti-SLAPP court regulations.

    BTW, you are O/T with your post(s) on this thread.

  59. #59 Daniel J. Andrews
    March 18, 2012

    author points out that camels were created for milk and given by God to cure all illnesses and poverty,

    I must have missed those verses in bible class–they’re probably hidden in the back somewhere

    In the past as cow milk began to supplant other milk, I wonder if we had people running around saying how good cow milk was for you compared to camel or yak milk? Maybe further back we had people saying how good mammoth milk was (now there’s a diary operation I’d like to witness). As others have pointed out, there will be other milk producers that will have their 15 minutes in the future. Maybe cows from Africa because they’re more “natural”. Or if they are successful in cloning a mammoth…

  60. #60 Krebiozen
    March 18, 2012

    Prometheus,

    I found that the camel milk (and its products) had a rather…pungent odor.

    That’s a polite way to describe it, it’s worse than goat’s milk. I never came across camel milk in Egypt, though I spent quite a bit of time there, only in Morocco (I love deserts and have a soft spot for camels). Come to think of it they didn’t seem to use camel milk in India despite there being lots of camels there – I visited a camel-breeding center in Rajasthan where they were crossing dromedaries with Bactrian camels to make a sort of super-camel for the Indian army, but I don’t remember seeing any camel milk products there. They are certainly popular there now.

  61. #61 Autismum
    March 18, 2012

    Camel milk? Seriously? Everyone knows it’s mega doses of vit C that can cure everything and even prevent amputations after freak jet skiing accidents according to Suzanne Humphries current ravings on Facebook atm. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=211359182304229&id=236107336440146

  62. #62 Chris
    March 18, 2012

    Yes, Autismum, it is just another in a long line of “this stuff works miracles!” Since I have been dealing with stuff online for over a decade (my son is over twenty years old), I have seen lots of things come and go and sometimes come back again. Stuff like essential oils, various oral chelators, neuromapping, secretin, melatonin, fish oil, growth hormone and on and on.

    And it is just not autism, but all manner of disability. Many years ago I came across this sarcastic 2001 post by Rob Kay on the Downs Syndrome listserv that seemed to sum it up (about the time fish oil was being touted), Sushi Burgers -the nutritious new cure-all from the East:

    Raw sushi squashi-spam burgers are a multivitamin, mineral, amino acid lead-free combination oil designed for use in Down syndrome, premature balding and acne, and recommended by the Japanese motor racing federation, Pokemon fraternity and Nintendo Widows association. They help immune function, muscle tone, level of alertness and claim some modest improvement at taking fast curves in the wet. Also very good for piles, dodgy sprockets and loose big ends. Ploduct may contain traces of peanuts, insecticide, sperm whale testicle and genetically modified soy-bran extract. Not to be applied tropically.

    Is not a cure for Down syndrome or nasty simian thingy-gummies! It can be obtained from Nippon Nutrition- a subdivision of Psychotropic By-product Petrochemical Industries, Matsuyama, Japan. We take cheques or postal orders in Yugoslav Dinars only.

    The web site is sashimi-kamikaze.com.
    (Seven air miles per packet purchased – never knowingly undersold)
    Acting Prof.Kay San, PHD, Univ. Konichiwa (1947)
    (father of Ping, Pang and Pong, the amazing trapeze triplets)

  63. #63 Chris
    March 18, 2012

    Ugh, moderated again. Autismum, it is all old news. See this sarcastic response to fish oil from a dozen years ago:
    http://groups.google.com/group/bit.listserv.down-syn/msg/cfa2e42bb6632e0f

  64. #64 Chris
    March 18, 2012

    Aargh! Twice this system has denied my link to Sushi Burgers -the nutritious new cure-all from the East (from the year 2000)!

  65. #65 Chris
    March 18, 2012

    Thank you, Orac!

  66. #66 Autismum
    March 18, 2012

    Old news constantly recycled by the quacks: the resurrection of this crap to fit whatever outbreak the anti-vaccination crowd have helped cause winds me up, as does their constant seeking to widen the market for their nonsense.

  67. #67 Ken
    March 18, 2012

    @31: “Camel milk [...contains] insulin, which is readily absorbed into the blood”

    That is a new one. I’m sure all the diabetes sufferers will be glad to know that insulin is now available in convenient pill form.

  68. #68 Dangerous Bacon
    March 18, 2012

    The herr doktor bimler said: “Camel’s milk cures autism?
    Think about it. How many autistic camels do you know?”

    I’d have a hard time knowing if a camel was autistic, based on what I’ve seen of their behavior.

  69. #69 Autismum
    March 18, 2012

    #64
    @Chris – that sushi burger response is priceless. Thanks for the giggle xx

  70. #70 Anna
    March 19, 2012

    My personal dairy woo favorite: Woman reverses Lyme disease with raw milk fasting

    http://www.naturalnews.com/035155_Lyme_disease_raw_milk_fasting.html

    “Then she came upon the Mayo Foundation milk fast information from the early 1900s. She found a farm close by that would sell her raw milk produced organically in large quantities.

    She fasted for 90 days on raw milk and homemade raw milk kefir only. Her regimen consisted of drinking six ounces of raw milk every hour. Melanie would leave the milk out for hours because cold milk is more difficult to digest. This is an age old Ayurvedic medicine principle.

    Upon her 90th day, after enduring one healing crisis after another, such as glandular pain and coughing up green phlegm during this difficult regimen, she reported the following results.

    The 25 pounds she had lost during four years of agony were back onto her “petite frame”, her complexion returned after being a pale yellow, and her hair stopped falling out.”

  71. #71 nastylittlehorse
    March 19, 2012

    Wait, I saw hyperbaric oxygen mentioned as a quack treatment up there?

    I’m no medical doctor, but I am a recreational SCUBA diver as far as I know Oxygen gets pretty dangerous at partial pressures over about 1.4-1.6 atmospheres.

    Granted, it may not be as dangerous if you aren’t 35m under the water when you have your seizure, but still… people do this?

  72. #72 Julian Frost
    March 19, 2012

    @nastylittlehorse: yes, they do use hyperbaric oxygen as a quack treatment. A few years ago, a child was in a hyperbaric chamber with an adult when something ignited a fire.
    Both suffered severe burns. The child survived but the adult didn’t.

  73. #73 Julian Frost
    March 19, 2012

    Comment of mine in moderation.

  74. #74 daedalus2u
    March 19, 2012

    lilady, do you have a reference for the incidence of autism in Tibet? That is something I am extremely interested in. Some Tibetians have increased nitric oxide levels.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20736959

  75. #75 sophia8
    March 19, 2012

    anna@71: Sounds like the woman had a very poor diet to begin with. Milk is a good source of all the major vitamins as well as calcium, fats and protein. Kefir is a type of yeast, so it’s high in B vitamins; it’s also about one-third protein, apparently.
    I’m guessing that in common with lots of people who have diagnosed themselves with Lyme disease, she followed a highly restricted diet that left her deficient in vital nutrients. The gallons of milk she drank didn’t cure her Lyme disease, it simply cured her food deficiency.

  76. #76 RAJensen
    March 19, 2012

    Palindrome wrote:
    ‘Oxytocin? I suppose it might help an autistic person — provided she were a pregnant woman well past her due date. It’s used to induce labor.

    Hollander is recruiting subjects with autism for oxytocin trials. Trials are also underway for oxytocin treatment for schizophrenia:

    http://www.hugthemonkey.com/2008/06/get-oxytocin-safely-in-clinical-trials.html

  77. #77 Calli Arcale
    March 19, 2012

    Todd W @ 19:

    Not exotic enough. Something that wouldn’t normally be milked, like, platypuses. Or if we’re going for places with no autism, go really exotic and claim penguin milk from Antarctica (don’t let them in on the fact that penguins lack mammary glands).

    Actually, some species of penguin, in particular the Emperor Penguin, do produce a sort of milk. It’s neccesary to keep the baby chick alive while the father waits for mom to come back and relieve him, since he won’t have any fish still on hand after all that time. It’s a mixture of protein and fats produced by a gland in his throat. (And I don’t mean the outside of his throat. Baby chick sticks its head down daddy’s throat. Or up, really, since daddy is a lot taller than baby.) This might be the ultimate rare milk, except the “ick” factor is probably insurmountable. (“Here, drink this stuff I got from sticking my finger down a penguin’s throat.”) But hey — it’s probably completely lactose free! :-D

    David Brown @ 47:

    A question that comes to my mind: What about milk from llamas? Llamas are the closest extant relatives of camels, and probably comparatively easy to obtain in the US. In Mesa, Arizona, I’ve seen them living in back yards.

    I did a little Googling; apparently while you *can* milk a llama, it’s a lot of work for not a lot of result. Their anatomy is much harder for a person or suction device to grab onto, and they are frequent nursers — as any mother who has struggled through nursing their first baby probably has learned the hard way, frequent nursing means you produce very little at a time and have to do it a lot. So llama milking would be very labor intensive. However, there is an effort underway in the Mideast to produce a viable line of camas — camel/llama hybrids. Breeding them requires artificial insemination, since camels and llamas have a rather substantial size difference. They’re hoping to get an animal with the stamina and strength of a camel, but with a gentler temperment (and probably better wool).

    Tara @ 52:

    So, if Dr. Wakefield and his team are a bunch of quacks, why are Brian Deer and Fiona Goodlee, the skeptics who orchestrated their professional destruction, getting destroyed in court?

    Dr Wakefield is a quack because he fabricated research to support the vaccine alternative he was intending to patent and then went on to happily destroy lives in pursuit of fame and fortune. Brian Deer and Fiona Goodlee, meanwhile, appear to be doing just fine in the courts. You may want to get better informed on current events; having a frivolous lawsuit filed against you does not constitute being destroyed.

  78. #78 lilady
    March 19, 2012

    @ daedalus2u

    I tried to convey some sarcasm in my remark with a reference to a now-debunked study of the decreased incidence of autism in “unvaccinated” kids within an Amish community:

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2011/06/underimmunization-in-ohios-amish-parental-fears-are-a-greater-obstacle-than-access-to-care/

    I have no idea if there are any Amish Tibetans…I tend to think that the Amish are not a major group in Tibet.

    “Tibetan Medicine” seems to have attracted some parents whose children are on the “Spectrum”:

    http://www.tibetmed.org/questions/question_13.htm

  79. #79 Chris
    March 19, 2012

    Julian Frost:

    Both suffered severe burns. The child survived but the adult didn’t.

    Julian, the boy also died:
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/06/2-fatality-hbot-fire/

  80. #80 daedalus2u
    March 19, 2012

    I was looking for autism in Tibitians. I suspect it is rare compared to non-Tibetians, but not because of diet.

  81. #81 JaneMD
    March 19, 2012

    Ah, Adon (Mister in Hebrew)Yagil, alas your belief that G-d gave us camels for milk and to cure illnesses is flawed. You see, camel is not kosher, so it would certainly not be supported in the Talmud for consumption. Therefore, it will not be a very popular drink in Israel – unless you are a non-Jewish Beduoin shepard milking the camel that also serves are your ride.

    Best of luck, Ms. Adams. If you want your own fresh camel milk, you’ll have to move to the countryside and buy your own camel. I hear the exotic animal laws in Ohio are quite loose.

  82. #82 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    March 19, 2012

    JaneMD,

    You’ll find this especially ironic: a camel’s milk presentation, starring Mr. Yagil and some other “professors”
    was held in a synagogue! Bet they couldn’t offer any samples.

    I didn’t watch much of the video so I don’t know if the issue of Kashruth came up. It would be like holding a presentation pitching the benefits of shellfish and pork in a synagogue!

    Here are some videos from that symposium:

    http://www.camelmilkforhealth.com/symposium.php

  83. #83 JaneMD
    March 19, 2012

    Judging by the name and the yamulke he’s wearing, at least he’s Jewish so he should know the rules . . . That is an awfully friendly looking camel on the website. Most of the camels I have met are kind of mean, and they spit.

    How selective people are about what they decide to believe. Honestly. Vaccines – tested on animals, not safe for humans because animals aren’t human – we should avoid them. Camel milk – not tested on humans, totally good because so different from human – we should use it to cure everything!

  84. #84 Calli Arcale
    March 19, 2012

    Actually I used to correspond with an Israeli. He talked of getting to sample ice cream made from camel’s milk. It’s not widely available; he was taking a vacation with his family to a sort of resort run by Bedouins. He’s ostensibly Jewish, but agnostic in practice. He eats bacon too; so while non-kosher food is not going to have a universal or even majority market in Israel, that’s not to say it has none. Israeli Jews run the full spectrum of religious compliance, to ridiculously absurd ultra-extreme-Orthodox to “meh”. Same as anywhere, I expect. Camels may not be kosher, but not everybody keeps kosher. ;-)

  85. #85 lilady
    March 19, 2012

    And, here is a blog that states that Rabbis have given dispensation to use camel’s milk for “therapeutic treatment”…note the mention of Dr. Yagil and the processing of the camel’s milk for ice cream:

    http://www.sarahmelamed.com/2009/06/comparision-of-camel-cow-goat-and-buffalo-milk

    Thank goodness IANJ (I an not Jewish), so that I don’t violate certain Jewish dietary laws…including overindulgence in eating ice cream.

    http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/259,88508/Can-I-eat-as-much-kosher-ice-cream-as-I-like.html

  86. #86 Krebiozen
    March 19, 2012

    camel is not kosher

    Presumably not halal either – see Leviticus 11:4. That doesn’t seem to stop various North African and Middle Eastern Muslims from drinking camel milk and eating camel meat.

  87. #87 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    March 19, 2012

    Here’s a different page of videos from that synagogue symposium. This time they included a clip featuring their rabbi discussing the kosher questions surrounding camel milk. I haven’t watched it yet, so I can’t summarize. For those curious,scroll down to the last video clip here:

    http://scharatzedeck.com/03_09_01_camel_milk.html

    The presentation was at an orthodox synagogue in Vancouver, BC.

  88. #88 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    March 19, 2012

    Who knew that Jewish law wasn’t tolerant of woo? I just watched the rabbi’s speech and it was quite interesting, actually.

    In a nutshell:

    Yes, there is a “loophole” allowing consumption of non-Kosher food products in order to save a life, but only if medical research and the modern science of the day has proven that particular remedy to work. The rabbi mentions clinical trials and published studies, not just anecdotal evidence.

    So, under current Jewish law, the rabbi states that camel’s milk would NOT be allowed.

    Oh my, I can hear the conspiracy cranks revving up…the Jews are in on the conspiracy to suppress alternative cures because they control Big Pharma. Did I get that right?

  89. #89 Liz Ditz
    March 19, 2012

    Prometheus @55:

    You are out of date. It’s dolphin milk in a homeopathic preparation that will cure autism.

    “Remedy” of dolphin’s milk in homeopathic preparation to treat autism, promoted by @urbanhealing

    Quackery on stilts documented by @anarchic_teapot

  90. #90 Liz Ditz
    March 19, 2012

    RAJensen: see my comment @20 : link has complete list of clinical trials of oxytocin & autism.

    I think there’s another study at Stanford in the planning stages (ie, not yet recruiting).

  91. #91 Narad
    March 19, 2012

    Who knew that Jewish law wasn’t tolerant of woo?

    It is surely forbidden to rely upon a miracle. There is, however, a disturbingly intriguing possibility for hilarity here: vaccination is widely held to be a mitzvot aseh. Now, if one had a habit of labeling populations “infection promoters”….

  92. #92 Antiquated Tory
    March 20, 2012

    @herr doktor bimler: Quick shout out for the Round the Horne reference!

  93. #93 anarchic teapot
    March 20, 2012

    You know, it may be naive of me to be a teensy bit surprised, but I think these homeopaths have trouble coming to a consensus as to which of their magical mystery cures should be used for any particular ailment. Camel’s milk didn’t even get a mention by the loonypath I caught touting various milks as treatments for various ailments (the “symptoms” turned up by the proving of human milk would put you off breastfeeding for life).

    However, she has no problem selling a remedy “based” on milk from a mythical creature. Camel milk? Too mainstream.

  94. #94 Calli Arcale
    March 20, 2012

    Dolphin’s milk? Wow. That’s gotta be a tough milking job. No wonder they make homeopathic preparations…..

    For those discussing whether an “experimental” treatment such as camel’s milk would get an exemption, remember that there is no universal Jewish authority. They don’t have a Pope to make declarations or anything, and the range of religious compliance is pretty vast. There are observant Jews who eat cheeseburgers, and also ones who have two entirely separate *kitchens* for the meat and the dairy, just to ensure nobody boils a calf in its mother’s milk. So yes, but not from everybody. Expecting all Jews to have the same interpretation is a bit like expecting Lutherans to require their priests be celibate.

    Kreboizen:

    Presumably not halal either – see Leviticus 11:4. That doesn’t seem to stop various North African and Middle Eastern Muslims from drinking camel milk and eating camel meat.

    I have inquired of some Muslim friends, and apparently camel meat is not exactly halal (lawful) but not exactly haram (unlawful) either. Muslim religious law works a little bit differently, in that anything it doesn’t explicitly forbid is understood to be allowed. Things are therefore, by default, halal unless specifically haram. Camels are not specifically haram, but they’re also not specifically halal. In general, anything that is kosher is pretty much bound to be halal, but so are a lot of non-kosher things. Some Muslims do abstain from camel products, on the basis of it not being quite halal, or perform ritual cleansing after consuming it. I suspect that the massive role of the camel in Arab tradition (going back long before Mohammed) has a lot to do with this; making camels haram would have meant an impossibly large cultural and economic adjustment in medieval times.

  95. #95 herr doktor bimler
    March 20, 2012

    Dolphin’s milk? Wow. That’s gotta be a tough milking job.

    Perhaps inspired by the whale-based dairy industry that replaces whaling in Arthur Clarke’s “The Deep Range”.

  96. #96 JaneMD
    March 21, 2012

    Calli,

    In Israel, there actually is universal authority. It is very complex, but essentially, since the Orthodox denomination (the oldest and strictest denomination) determines who is ‘Jewish,’ it has a lot more heft in Israel than in the United States. Experimental camel milk is probably lower on the list right now.

    If anyone was wondering about what a ‘mitvah aseh’ is, it is a positive commandment – something you are supposed to do. Vaccines are considered lifesaving and should be gotten. There are no kosher issues with vaccines – you aren’t eating it for pleasure. They don’t care if it was grown completely in a pig.

  97. #97 Calli Arcale
    March 21, 2012

    Yeah, but it’s like saying that there’s universal authority in Italy for Christians. Not everybody listens to it, those who do may pick and choose when to listen, and many substitute their own authorities. It likes to *think* that it’s universal, though, and has been gaining increased political power lately.

  98. #98 Krebiozen
    March 21, 2012

    Thanks Calli, Leviticus 11:4 specifically says of the camel “he is unclean unto you” but the Koran says (The Pilgrimage 2:26) of camels, “when they fall down eat of them and feed the poor man who is contented and the beggar”. The Koran trumps the OT so that probably explains it. I hope this is both the first and last time I shall be quoting scripture here.

  99. #99 Prometheus
    March 21, 2012

    Liz Ditz (#90):

    “You are out of date. It’s dolphin milk in a homeopathic preparation that will cure autism.”

    Wow. Ok, that totally trumps camel’s milk.

    Still, I’m going to try a pilot study with shrew’s milk (we have a local abundance of shrews) and see how that works for autism. If it shows efficacy at the level of, say HBOT, chelation or secretin (hint: no better than placebo), then I plan to go into large-scale (in a relative sense) production of my line of patent-pending shrew yogurt and cheese. Picture verrrry small packages (plus side: extremely low shipping costs).

    Seriously, if I didn’t have a conscience, I could make a fortune in the “alternative autism therapy” racket.

    Prometheus

  100. #100 Sheepmilker
    March 21, 2012

    Prometheus:

    If you want one of the best artisanal Cheesemakers in the business (and sidekick), my partner and I have just been “terminated” and would be available for your shrew dairy.

    Luckily, my partner is quite short, so she would do better with your shrew products than most people.

    Can’t find any references to shrew milk in the textbooks, so there might even be a few papers in it too!

  101. #101 Prometheus
    March 21, 2012

    Sheepmilker,

    The first step, obviously, will be determining if it is practical to milk shrews. I assume they produce milk (they are mammals), but I suspect even manual milking will require a great deal of dexterity (and most likely bright light and magnification).

    I’ll have to get back to you on this – by the way, how are you folks at working with very small volumes?

    Prometheus

  102. #102 Janerella
    March 22, 2012

    Homeopathic dolphin milk is EASY to farm – you just collect a vial of seawater, sillies! Have you learnt nothing???

  103. #103 Ledasmom
    March 22, 2012

    For what it is worth, I once came across a diagram of a milking machine for guinea pigs (I believe the point of it was that they were doing some sort of analysis of the milk for research purposes. I do not believe they were drinking it). I believe, with a bit of scaling down, that it might work for your shrew dairy. I don’t know how many nipples shrews have, so that part of the milking machine might need modifying as well (guinea pigs only have two). Come to think of it, why not start with guinea pigs? I rather like the mental image of guinea pigs lined up in their milking stanchions, placidly chewing on hay to the whoosh-whoosh of a tiny milking machine.
    I envision adorably wee milk cartons, and string cheese that is the diameter of actual string.

  104. #104 squirrelelite
    March 22, 2012

    @Ledasmom,

    We used to have a guinea pig named Ginger. She really liked Rock and Roll, Part Two by Gary Glitter. She would start making a cooing sound when it started playing. We think the thumping rhythm that runs through the song reminded her of the sound of her mother’s heart when she was still in the womb.

    So, I can really envision rows of guinea pigs lined up in their stalls cooing along to Gary Glitter while they are being milked!

  105. #105 Beamup
    March 22, 2012

    @ Prometheus:

    Shrews are pretty easy to milk, I’d say. There are abundant automatic products on the market to do so.

    Oh wait, you meant Soricomorpha. Apologies to Petruchio.

  106. #106 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    March 25, 2012

    Basically, if it’s touted as something that ‘cures all’, the reality is that the word ‘f*ck* needs to be inserted between ‘cure’and ‘all’ … and the only Camel I give a shit about is the band that recorded Music Inspired By The Snow Goose

  107. #107 RCane
    March 27, 2012

    Yes, it’s a good laugh, but the writer herself makes no outlandish claims and says herself that her observations are self-reported and anecdotal and that research is required. Camel milk does have unique properties, some data (in diabetes) and there are some clinical trials going on. Who will have the last laugh here?

    I’m reminded of Clark’s first law and the fact that Lithium was once considered woo.

  108. #108 Chris
    March 27, 2012

    Carl Sagan:

    But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

    From here.

  109. #109 lilady
    March 27, 2012

    They laughed at chemical castration, as *treatment* for autism:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/05/why_not_just_castrate_them_part_8_the_st.php

    They laughed at chelation, as another *treatment* for autism:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/08/one_year_later_the_autopsy_results_on_ab_1.php

    Are you having the last laugh, here?

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