No, camel poop does not help cure diarrhea, scientists say
Articles pop up from time to time suggesting that eating camel excrement can help against diarrhea, Amsterdam scientists say. The alleged therapy was even mentioned in some academic studies. To find out if this could be right, they imported camel droppings from Egypt and dived into the matter. Their conclusion: you cannot accomplish anything in the fight against diarrhea by using camel excrement.
German soldiers were said to have successfully treated diarrhea with camel dung in Africa during World War II. According to stories, the soldiers had copied the remedy from the Bedouin, who took the “medicine” as fresh as possible for optimal results. But whether or not the desert dwellers actually did that is irrelevant, as it would not help either way, according to researchers from Amsterdam UMC and the University of Amsterdam.
Camel droppings contain the bacteria Bacillus subtilis. “There are indications that the bacteria Bacillus subtilis has a probiotic effect and can help with diarrhea. That makes for an attractive story saying the Bedouin used camel dung containing Bacillus subtilis to treat diarrhea,” said microbiologist Jurgen Seppen. But the amount of bacteria in camel dung is simply not enough to generate the desidred effect.
“We could only detect the bacterium using a very sensitive technique. The study showed that the concentration of Bacillus subtilis in camel dung is comparable to the concentration of this bacteria in human feces and soil. Completely insufficient for a therapeutic effect.”
The rumored method may not have actually existed, said Seppen. He and his colleagues examined not only the poop but also the literature. “There is a great deal of literature on the therapeutic use of camel urine, but not on the use of camel poop.” The camel poop story was traced back to a German website that has since been taken offline.
With the results, the scientists said they demonstrated not only that “a good-sounding and ‘tasty’ nonsensical story can quickly be adopted and disseminated, even in serious scientific literature.” They also developed techniques for the camel poop study that they will use to investigate the importance of Bacillus subtilis and other spore-forming bacteria in intestinal diseases.
Reporting by ANP