No, camel poo does not help cure diarrhea, scientists say

Articles pop up from time to time suggesting that eating camel dung can help with diarrhea, according to scientists in Amsterdam. The so-called therapy has even been mentioned in some academic studies. To find out if this could be true, they imported camel dung from Egypt and looked into the matter. Their conclusion: you can’t accomplish anything in the fight against diarrhea by using camel dung.

German soldiers reportedly successfully treated diarrhea with camel dung in Africa during World War II. According to stories, the soldiers had copied the remedy from the Bedouins, who took the “medicine” as fresh as possible for optimal results. But whether the desert dwellers did it or not is irrelevant, as it wouldn’t help, according to researchers from Amsterdam UMC and the University of Amsterdam.

Camel feces contain the bacterium Bacillus subtilis. “There are indications that the bacterium Bacillus subtilis has a probiotic effect and can help with diarrhea. It makes for an attractive story that the Bedouins used camel dung containing Bacillus subtilis to treat diarrhoea,” said microbiologist Jurgen Seppen. But the amount of bacteria in camel dung is simply not enough to generate the desired effect.

“We were only able to detect the bacteria using a very sensitive technique. The study showed that the concentration of Bacillus subtilis in camel dung is comparable to the concentration of this bacterium in human feces and soil. Completely insufficient for a therapeutic effect.

The supposed method may not have actually existed, Seppen said. He and his colleagues examined not only the poo but also the literature. “There is a lot of literature on the therapeutic use of camel urine, but not on the use of camel poo.” The history of camel poop can be traced back to a German website that has since been taken offline.

With the results, the scientists said they not only demonstrate that “a good-sounding, ‘tasty’ nonsense story can be quickly adopted and disseminated, even in serious scientific literature”. They have also developed techniques for the study of camel poop which they will use to study the importance of Bacillus subtilis and other spore-forming bacteria in intestinal diseases.

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