History and ancestral benefits of mare’s milk
Knowledge of mare’s milk benefits dates back to the days of Ancient Greece. Its properties were highlighted by dieticians and ancient doctors like Aristotle and Hippocrates. Donkey milk was already used by the Romans for its therapeutic properties.
Mare milk has been used for thousands of years. Consumed by humans since prehistoric times, horse milk was enjoyed for centuries by the Mongols, the people of Central Asia and the Indo-European steppes, especially in the form of fermented drink called kumiz and kefir.
In the 19th century, mare milk was often used as milk substitution for cow’s milk.
Much less consumed in Western countries than cow’s milk, mare’s milk yet sparked a passion for twenty years for its nutritional qualities and its composition close to that of breast milk. In publications related to organic farming, naturopaths lend it many therapeutic virtues..
Since 2000, mare’s milk is used in cosmetics, especially for correcting skin imperfections. Mare milk remains a relatively expensive product. Indeed, a mare produces only 500 liters of milk per year (about 10,000 liters for a cow).
Mare milk: forgotten advantages
Mare milk, similar to donkey milk, is little known to the public today. Yet these two types of milk are used for thousands of years, both for their nutritional benefits as well as for their cosmetic qualities.
Mare milk: a milk near breast milk
Mare milk is an animal milk that is closest to breast milk because of its composition. The horse and man are both mono-gastric creatures. By comparison, a cow has four different gastric pouches. Horse and man assimilate the different components of food in a similar way, and their milk is therefore similar to each other.
Besides, for a long time, the mare’s milk was used as a milk substitute for newborn children, even in many maternity hospitals in France. The mare’s milk has completely disappeared from French maternity in the aftermath of World War II, although mare’s milk use had already decreased significantly for several years.
The nutritional qualities of mare milk
Mare milk is a rather poor milk casein (protein) provider. This poverty makes it a much more digestible milk than cow’s milk. This is one of the reasons why the mare’s milk can be recommended for young children whose liver has trouble assimilating components of cow’s milk. Mare’s milk is also recommended for adults whose bodies cannot tolerate cow’s milk.
Mare milk is also very rich in lysozyme, while only traces of this enzyme are found in cow’s milk. The lysozyme is an enzyme acting as an antimicrobial agent. Mare’s milk is also rich in lactoferrin, a glycoprotein that facilitates iron absorption by the body and which would have antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in addition to strengthening the immune system.
Mare milk, because the animal is mono-gastric, is rich in monosaturated fatty acids whose role is to contribute to the reduction of “bad cholesterol”. Mare’s milk is also rich in vitamin C (antioxidant) and vitamin D that intervene in prevention of cancers and diabetes. Due to its low amount in casein and beta-lactoglobulin, mare’s milk is only slightly allergenic.
Mare and cosmetic milk
As donkey milk, mare’s milk is also popular in cosmetics.
Many benefits are attributed to mare’s milk in the world of cosmetics and especially with respect to the beauty of the skin. Thus, the mare’s milk have moisturizing properties, but also regenerating, slowing the aging of the skin due to the presence of lactoferrin in liquid.
Mare milk is also beneficial for acne prone skin due to its anti-bacterial components, and it would heal in part important skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis or neurodermatitis, and this because of the healing virtues ofhorse milk. Mare milk is then sold as food supplements, creams or soaps.
Health benefits of mare’s milk
In popular legends or real milk-medicine, many health properties are attributed to the mare’s milk. Thus, the mare’s milk is recommended for people suffering from stress or fatigue, as well as individuals with difficulties in digestion and intestinal transit.
Mare milk is also recommended for children under four year’s old suffering from sleep disorders. Mare milk also would have the most effective antibiotic attribute to help healing intestinal inflammation and ulcers. Mare’s milk also has beneficial effects on mouth ulcers particularly, due to its antibacterial properties.
The mare’s milk composition also prevents migraines and would perfectly fit as part of a balanced diet. Sometimes the mare’s milk is also indicated as an adjunct therapy for high blood pressure due to the presence of proteins in the milk similar to those used in the medical community for this type of pathology.
Mare’s milk can help improve some digestive problems resulting from the destabilization of the intestinal bacterial flora. It can act as a prebiotic and / or probiotic by the combination of lysozyme and lactoferrin and thereby limit the growth of undesirable bacterial flora by promoting the growth of bacteria of lactic acid and bifidobacteria such as Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus salivarius.
Thus, mare’s milk contains a high percentage of lysozyme, a protein that limits the growth of microbial bacteria that cause intestinal infections and diarrhea. A bacteriostatic action against gram-positive bacteria and enterobacteriaceae.
Also, as mentioned above, it promotes the growth of other bacteria which benefit from the gastrointestinal sugars released in the intestine which are growth factors for them1.
The effect of some bioactive peptides derived from the digestion of mare milk protein may play an important role in reducing intestinal inflammation associated with various digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.
We should also take into account the regulatory effect of chemotaxis and oxidative cause in inflammation by lysozyme and omega-3 as well as omega-62. These polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) also have anti-inflammatory function as important as bioactive peptides and can also be a great help in these cases of digestive diseases.
In the case of Crohn’s disease, for example, it was noted that butyrate content of mare’s milk can help maintain a good colonocytes state and prevent aggravation of the disease.
For lactose intolerant people, mare’s milk has certain advantages. Probiotic bacteria produce the lactase enzyme to help metabolize lactose. Knowing that the current increase in lactose intolerance is, in part due, to the abuse of antibiotics that have weakened the intestines by decolonizing the intestinal lactase. This is why proper settlement of these bacteria may lower lactose intolerance. Thus, this feature boosts residual lactase in the enterocytes of the person, encouraging action and lowering their intolerance upon consumption of this milk.
Mare’s milk also contains significant amounts of magnesium that can help to treat intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel disease.
Mare’s milk can have an important role in the immune system because of some key components. First, it must be said that this milk contains immunoglobulin G, immunoglobulin A and immunoglobulin M.
IgG is the only one with the ability to cross biological membranes. On the basis of a secondary immune response, most immunoglobulins belong to this type.
IgA may be secreted by mucous membranes and exocrine glands, making a most important action on the surface of mucous membranes and fluids.
IgM is responsible for developing a balance of intravascular space, so it stimulates a primary response.
In addition to the described immunoglobulins it should be noted that the whey protein is present in mare’s milk.
Lactoferrin has an antimicrobial activity which provides protection against the pathogenic bacteria that colonize the mucosa. It is used as a natural antiseptic3. Lactoferrin participates in the antimicrobial activity against gram positive and some gram negative, but also against some viruses and fungi. It features a modulator of the immune response, stimulates or inhibits various hormonal and cellular components involved in the prevention and / or resolution of the infection and inflammation associated with these4.
Lysozyme also has an antiseptic activity. It acts on certain bacteria by removing the polysaccharide component of their cell walls5. It also has anti-inflammatory activities6.
The β-lactoglobulin has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It can inhibit the Gastronorm pathogens, promote the immune response of the body and regulate the development of the cell7.
The α-lactalbumin is a bactericide, an antimicrobial agent and it is an inducer of apoptosis.
Milk proteins such as bioactive peptides have various properties. Including the regulation of blood pressure, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory8.
The above described proteins contain amino acids essential for the proper functioning of the body but the mare’s milk contains amino acids that are also more easily absorbed.
Among them, the following should be mentioned:
Aspartic acid helps the immune system, it causes increased production of immunoglobulins and antibodies.
Serine is useful for maintenance of a healthy immune system and contributes to the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies.
Lysine has great antiviral properties and enhances the immune function and antibody production.
Histidine is needed for the production of red and white cells in the blood. It improves the immune response.
Mare milk also contains a significant amount of vitamins that are related to the immune system, they are presented below:
Vitamin A or retinol increases the immune function.
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin regulates the growth of red blood cells and helps maintain a strong immune system.
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid is necessary for the formation of antibodies to minimize the toxic effects of certain antibiotics, and for help in healing wounds.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid helps fight bacterial and viral diseases.
Vitamin E or tocopherol regulates the binding of platelets and increases the immune response, for example by stimulating red blood cells to become more resistant.
Thus, it is not the action of each component individually, but the sum of these that provides support to the body against various pathogens.
Mare milk can have great benefits in the treatment of cancer due to the presence of certain components in milk. First of all pay attention to whey proteins:
Lactoferrin is a protein or lactotransferrina immunoreguladora, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer9. Melatonin is synthesized from the essential amino acids of the α-lactalbumin protein and tryptophan, used to treat cancer (brain, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, etc.) In addition to the side effects caused by chemotherapy, clinical Ohayo in Cleveland (USA) is developing a vaccine against breast cancer from the α-lactalbumin protein inducing apoptosis of tumor cells.
Lysozyme has an important role in the regulation of cancer. It is an antioxidant which acts as a regulator or “brake” in DNA replication (such as a control cell). It sends a signal that reaches the TP53 gene which is transcribed in the p53 protein which is a tumor suppressor. Thus, this gene activates the anti-oncogene and is involved in tumor suppression10.
In addition to these proteins, the vitamins C and E are antioxidants such as lysozyme. Vitamin E improves the action of selenium that helps to fight cancer.
It is worth mentioning the important role that the mare milk can play in the bacterial composition of the probiotic bacteria for the content of Bifidobacterium Faecalobacterium group. They are bacteria that degrade hexoses, pentoses, alcohol, acetate, propionate and butyrate (SCFA) (short chain fatty acids). The butyrate is also mentioned in the current literature for its anti-cancer ability.
Although the mechanism of action is unknown, we know that butyrate inhibits the cells of colon tumors, and instead encourages the growth of their epithelial cells.
We have yet to demonstrate the mare’s milk qualities in clinical studies but through observational studies it has been shown that it can be a significant help to improve recovery from chemotherapy in reducing side effects.
Side effects of chemotherapy are, among others, nausea, loss of appetite and lower defenses. It is mainly on the side effects that mare milk may have benefits. Mare milk induces the synthesis of serotonin (due to its high content of tryptophan and tyrosine), thus contributing to improve the patient’s mood to help recover the appetite. The regeneration of the intestinal flora may improve traffic control and help reduce digestive discomfort and nausea.
The high content of lysozyme, lactoferrin, IgA and bioactive peptides makes mare’s milk a great help in the reinforcement of the defenses.
Note that in the tumors with hormonal origin, in cases of ablation, the mare’s milk is not recommended because it contains conjugated estrogens. It should also be noted that in the case of radiotherapy treatment it must be recalled that the mare’s milk contains natural antioxidants.
It has been observed that people with certain blood disorders who consumed mare’s milk show improvements.
First, let’s see the case of anemia: In addition to the iron content in milk, there is another element that is even more important in this case. Mare’s milk contains a protein called lactoferrin and lactoferrin. This protein has the ability to bind iron and transport it through the bloodstream11. The protein-bound iron is no longer available for potential pathogens where it is necessary for their metabolism, thus inhibiting their growth. This is why it explains the bacterial action and apparently also the antiviral action. Lactoferrin is resistant to the acid pH in the stomach.
Some of the milk components, such as amino acids alanine and valine, can help stabilizing blood sugar levels.
With regard to the regulation of cholesterol, the amino acid methionine can help prevent its accumulation. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6 are present in milk and can certainly assist in lowering cholesterol.
Mare milk also provides some vitamins such as vitamin B3 or niacin that helps reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, stabilizing blood sugar, increasing circulation and s reducing blood pressure.
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid also helps reducing blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Finally, vitamin E or tocopherol helps fighting against cholesterol and triglycerides. It also helps to protect against anemia.
Horse milk plays an important role in facilitating the absorption of some of the components needed by the body: Better absorption of calcium because it comes with vitamin D, lactose and estrogen. Thus, a system to meet the calcium requirements of the organization, among other things, can prevent diseases such as hypertension12.
Mare milk can influence mood and improve well-being in the short term thanks to the contribution of free amino acids.
This improvement is consolidated in the medium and long term because of one of the proteins in the milk, α-lactalbumin. This, among others, is a source of essential amino acids such as tryptophan and tyrosine that act as precursors of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which we know is very important for our well-being13.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter used by the nerve pathways responsible for mood, appetite, sleep and sexual desire. By the contribution of essential amino acids that our body needs to synthesize this neurotransmitter, the nerve pathways related to positive feelings have the option to operate and better regulate itself. The synthesis and degradation of serotonin regulates the dynamic balance of neurotransmitters, thus promoting a healthy nervous system.
In addition, the mare’s milk consists of other elements that promote well-being. It contains significant magnesium for nerve transmission and delivers energy to neurons while also being a muscle relaxant.
In addition to improving mood, mare’s milk gives us energy. This energy comes mainly from lactose, with only a small amount of energy derived from sugar and fat.
It also contains a large amount of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) and amino acids14.
It was found that the mare milk can help people in a bad mood, suffering from depression or other problems such as stress and anxiety.
Today the effectiveness of mare’s milk on people with skin problems has been shown. Therefore, we can say that milk can play an important role in dermatology.
Although the exact mechanism is not known, these improvements have been seen from a small daily dose of milk of the mare in addition to the use of cosmetics based on mare’s milk, in cases of psoriasis, atopic skin, eczema, etc.
A clear improvement was found. It seems that some of the benefits observed in cases of atopic dermatitis may be due to the regulating effect of the bacterial flora mare’s milk.
In cases of psoriasis, after long-term consumption of milk, there has been a decrease in virulence of the skin damage and a reduction in the departure area affected. It must be said, however, that we cannot say whether mare’s milk can be a remedy.
Mare’s milk has several components that can be linked to the maintenance of healthy skin. It has most of the amino acids, such as serine (skin hydration) and cystine (high sulfur) which are indicated for the skin disorders. It should also be noted that milk from the mare contains many vitamins that help the functioning of our body.
In order to close this dermatology subject, it should be noted that vitamin A or retinol contributes to healthy skin, and vitamin C or ascorbic acid helps prevent and improve the skin. They help maintain healthy collagen in the skin and repair damaged tissue.
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