Monday 7 December 2015

Camel milk and autism: two humps or three?

In a previous post with the cringe-worthy title: 'Camel milk for autism: one hump or two?' (you can see why I could never be a comedian) I talked about some rather intriguing research [1] asking whether, under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions, camel milk could affect various clinical measures of severity when it comes to the label of autism, some autism. The answer was very possibly, yes; with the strong requirement for quite a bit more follow-up research in this area.

Lo and behold, yet more data has emerged from the research pen of one Laila Al-Ayadhi and colleagues [2] (open-access available here) on the topic of camel milk and autism and specifically the idea that: "camel milk could be [a] very promising therapeutic intervention in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]." Again, under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions, Al-Ayadhi et al describe how 2 weeks of camel milk (raw or boiled) seemed to show some 'significant differences' on schedules such as the CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), SRS (Social Responsiveness Scale) and the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist). The placebo (cow milk) group by contrast, didn't show anything at all in terms of significant changes between baseline and post-intervention testing occasions.  The ATEC in particular, is something I'm quite keen to see more autism investigations using (see here).

I have some time for Dr/Prof. Al-Ayadhi and colleagues given some previous musings on their wide and varied research with autism in mind (see here). This recent work continues one of their important themes based on the idea that not all mammalian milk forms are alike (see here) and hence, following a tradition potentially implicating milk and dairy products in some autism (see here), a switch to other varieties of milk outside of those normally populating our diet might be beneficial for at least some. Other more 'N=1' reports [3] have offered similar discussions on this topic.

As per my previous musings on this topic, I can't readily offer a substantial and/or universal reason for what it is about camel milk that may be important to some people on the autism spectrum. Lactose content, milk protein structure or nutritional content are perhaps some of the most pertinent variables to consider given that all have some research 'history' when it comes to at least some autism (see here for some discussion on the seemingly forgotten work by Tim Buie et al on lactose issues and autism for example). In other peer-reviewed publications, Dr/Prof. Al-Ayadhi has talked about the antioxidant properties of camel milk as being key [4]. I'm hoping that in future times I might be able to discuss further this area of investigation as and when some research ideas in my own day job reach fruition.

And just in case you think I'm advocating camel milk for all autism, no I'm not. As we've seen from other research outside of autism recently, personalised nutrition is the way forward [5] not sweeping generalisations...

Music to close and a song that's growing on me (I think I need some earworm therapy).

[1] Al-Ayadhi LY. et al. Behavioral Benefits of Camel Milk in Subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2015 Nov;25(11):819-823.

[2] Bashir S. & Al-Ayadhi LY. Effect of camel milk on thymus and activation-regulated chemokine in autistic children: double-blind study. Pediatr Res. 2014 Apr;75(4):559-63.

[3] Adams CM. Patient report: autism spectrum disorder treated with camel milk. Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Nov;2(6):78-80.

[4] Al-Ayadhi LY. & Elamin NE. Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:602834.

[5] Zeevi D. et al. Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell. 2015 Nov 19;163(5):1079-1094.

---------- Al-Ayadhi LY, Halepoto DM, Al-Dress AM, Mitwali Y, & Zainah R (2015). Behavioral Benefits of Camel Milk in Subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons--Pakistan : JCPSP, 25 (11), 819-823 PMID: 26577969

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