A little history:
Donkey milk is the closest to human milk. This milk has been used for a long time for its moisturizing and regenerative properties of tissues by great figures of history (most notably Cleopatra, Nefertiti or Poppea). Later, when François 1st, King of France, was exhausted by wars and excesses, hee followed the advice of a doctor from Constantinople and adopted a cure of donkey milk. We owe him this quote: “One day donkey milk restored my health, and I owe to this circumstance, more to donkeys than to faculty.”
In addition, donkey milk was widely used in antiquity. It was told that Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, took baths in donkey’s milk to maintain the beauty and youth of her skin. In Roman times, the donkey milk was also coveted by Roman and Napoleonic bourgeoisie. Women took donkey milk baths to maintain the whiteness of their skin.
Furthermore, donkey milk was very much used until the late nineteenth century for feeding infants. Donkey farms were localized near hospitals with maternity wards.
Indeed, the digestibility of donkey’s milk is due to the absence of coagulated casein and its low fat content. Studies show that donkey milk is suitable for children allergic to cow’s milk protein (beta-lactoglobulin)1.
Donkey milk in the diet
Known in cosmetology, donkey milk is also used in nutrition. Donkey milk is very white and very fluid. Due to very strong similarities in composition between mother’s milk and donkey milk, it was often used in the early twentieth century to feed young children.
In addition, donkey’s milk is well known to be highly digestible, because it does not contain coagulable casein and little fat. Its composition, rich in minerals, trace elements, vitamins and immunoglobulins (proteins) stimulate the immune defense and helps the regeneration of the intestinal flora.
For babies, donkey milk is a food
In pediatrics, donkey milk is perfectly suited to nourish infants who are not breastfed. Donkey milk has in fact very similar to breast milk. It is also suitable for babies who have a severe allergy to cow’s milk protein and babies with digestive disorders2.
Studies show that donkey milk is suitable for children who are allergic to cow’s milk protein (beta-lactoglobulin). Donkey milk is easily digestible because it does not contain coagulable casein and little fat.
The composition of donkey’s milk, as compared to human milk, is remarkable. Donkey milk contains vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, D, C, E), minerals and trace elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, zinc), immunoglobulins (lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lysozyme), alkyl glycerols involved in immune defense and linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6)3.
Donkey milk is also suitable for adults
Donkey milk is very rich in minerals, trace elements and vitamins, contains very little fat. Its immunoglobulin helps strengthen the immune mechanisms of the organism and its enzymes help to regenerate the intestinal flora.
Donkey milk has beneficial effects on various problems of metabolism. It has a particularly spectacular action in the following disorders:
As for skin diseases such as allergic skin diseases, acne, psoriasis,it accumulates depuratives and restorative effects. With respect to intestinal problems; donkey milk regenerates the intestinal flora and fights constipation. It promotes liver detoxification. It diminishes the effects of rebels cough and chronic bronchitis. Donkey milk reinforces immunodeficiency during chemotherapy or long-term illness. And, it reduces fatigue (stress, examinations, disease).
To follow a cure of donkey milk, it is recommended to drink 20 ml of milk per day, for one month.
Proteins of interest
In several countries, in fact, no clinical studies have been undertaken. It is therefore impossible to date to prove the therapeutic virtues of donkey’s milk. It is only in specialized laboratories in the agri-food industry that the researchers are interested in this product. Today they are fully aware of the composition of donkey milk. Even if it is low in fat, donkey milk is especially rich in omega 34. Omega 3 has potential anti-inflammatory effects and effects on cardiovascular disease. Donkey milk has also a reduced protein content, so it is hypoallergenic but some of its proteins, such as lysozyme, are more interesting than others.
Lysozyme is a protein with very specific properties that attracted the attention of researchers. This enzyme has the ability to cut the membranes of bacteria. So that it will inhibit bacterial growth and thus have an antimicrobial and antibacterial action.
Of all milks, the one of the donkey is the richest in this valuable protein. But if the antimicrobial properties of lysozyme are known, its effects on humans are still being studied. And even if researchers confirm these medicinal properties, this would have little chance of being commercialized on a large scale: too expensive and too rare. The donkey produces an average of two liters of milk per day, or twenty times less than a dairy cow.
Donkey milk, a rare and precious milk
For a donkey to give milk, it is imperative that his colt is at his side. The donkey needs the trust and respect of the person who will be milking the donkey by hand. Milking is binding because the donkey should be treated every 3 hours during the day only.
The donkey produces milk for a single colt, and thus produces only about one liter of milk a day, hence the rarity of this milk. The milk storage capacity of a donkey is very low, which explains its rarity.
Did you know?
Coagulation of milk is impossible: the crude protein of the milk in equidae (horse family) comprise about 10% of non-protein nitrogenous materials and 40% to 60% casein (phosphoprotein of milk).
All casein represents 80% of nitrogenous materials in cow’s milk. One of the latter, the kappa casein, abundant in cow’s milk, is not found in the milk of donkey and mare. It is this which allows the milk curdle.
In fact, milk is a micelle suspension (aggregate of molecules). The protein Kappa casein which stabilizes micelles is destroyed in the presence of the enzyme rennet (enzyme that curdles milk, used in cheese). The micelles then precipitate, separated by a liquid called whey.
The absence of this kappa casein explains that the mare milk, donkey milk and even camel milk, do not lead to making cheese. Although this technique would allow its production, the cheese would have little taste and poor consistency, because the milk contains very little fat.
Yet the Romans were making cheeses from donkey milk presumably resembling at today’s parmesan.
Soap with donkey milk
The many virtues of donkey’s milk can be summarized by the formula of the Greek Herodotus “it nourishes, strengthens and stimulates.” And is not only recommended in case of premature aging: wrinkles, dry skin.
Donkey milk soap is particularly effective on skin problem where it cumulates depuratives and restorative effects. Donkey’s milk allows the skin to regenerate more easily.
The soap made with donkey milk acts on many and frequent skin problems related to nervous disorders like stress. It makes it possible to rebalance the nervous system through the role of essential fatty acids.
- Polidori P, Silvia Vincenzetti S Use of Donkey Milk in Children with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy Foods 2013, 2, 151-159; doi: 10.3390/foods2020151
- Perna A, Intaglietta I, Simonetti A, Gambacorta E (2015), Donkey Milk for Manufacture of Novel Functional Fermented Beverages. Journal of Food Science, 80: S1352–S1359. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.12862
- Osman Swar M. Donkey milk-based formula: A substitute for patients with cow’s milk protein allergy Sudan J Paediatr. 2011; 11(2): 21–24.
- Martemucci G and D’Alessandro AG. Fat content, energy value and fatty acid profile of donkey milk during lactation and implications for human nutrition. Lipids Health Dis. 2012; 11: 113. Published online 2012 Sep 11. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-11-113