An ingredient so different and so interesting; how could anyone remain unaware of such a familiar, yet poorly understood aspect of Cleopatras beauty regime.
Cleopatra’s legendary seductive and youthful looks are claimed to be the result of her luxurious milk baths. Some reports claim 7000 donkeys were needed to provide her with enough milk for her daily indulgence. Although bathing in donkey milk may be appealing to some, I was more interested in her less frequently reported baths of camel milk. To this day, camel milk is known as the “white gold” of the desert. What secrets did our Cleo know that we’re only now discovering?
Research into the properties of camel milk is unlocking the secrets. In short camel milk is one of the most nutrient dense of all milks. is rich in alpha hydroxyl acids which is what would have helped Cleo in her camel milk baths to dissolve the proteins that hold together dead skin cells. They don’t only dissolve these proteins, but actually promote the healthy cell regeneration and softening of the skin while keeping it both supple and smooth, helping to reduce fine lines. Camel milk also has a high vitamin and mineral content, especially rich in vitamin C (three times more so than cow’s milk) which is important for tissue repair, as well as 10 times the amount of iron (compared to cow’s milk) and vitamin A, B2 and D, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc. Additionally, camel milk naturally contains protective proteins with anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
So if camel milk has so many regenerative and healing properties, why didn’t our Cleo just bathe in camel milk every day?
The answer is simple biology and geography. Deserts are arid regions with harsh climates, but camels are well adapted to survive in these extreme environments which in turn make them a valuable means of transport when trading between the different ancient kingdoms. Even if the ancients had wanted to keep them in pens for the sole purpose of milking, they would have found this difficult as a camel will only produce milk if they are “happy”, meaning they need space to wander and to be kept in their own social grouping systems. In addition to this, camels will only produce milk if they are calving, which means that the ancient dairy farmers would have had to share the majority of this nutrient dense milk with the next generation of young camels.
But perhaps the main reason that the milk was, and still is, so valuable is due to how much milk a camel can actually produce, which is on average only ¼ of the milk that your other bovine animals (cows, donkeys & goats) can. This is why camel milk is considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense milks commercially available as the camel needs to ensure that its calf has enough proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals available to it in a far lesser quantity of milk.
This is not a milk you wish to spill, but if you do, avoiding the crying and make sure you spill it on the floor so at least your toes will look twenty years younger. Who knows, Maybe that’s how Cleopatra discovered it.