Horse milk — What is mare’s milk and why is it so healthy?
Horse milk, also named mare's milk or equine milk, is used for centuries as a nutritional drink and more recently as a dietary supplement that can help with many health issues.
At Equilac®, we have summarized the most important facts for you about horse milk.
- History of horse milk
- What makes horse milk so unique?
- Nutritional value of horse milk
- Health benefits of horse milk
- Which horse milk products to use?
- How is horse milk produced?
- How much does horse milk cost?
History of horse milk
With a history of more than 2000 years, mare’s milk has had a real impact on the health and well-being of many people in history.
The origin of horse milk dates back to the ancient Greeks. They believed that the Amazons, a legendary tribe of women warriors, nursed their children on mare's milk.
The Scythians were traveling warriors who lived in southern Siberia that depended on their horses for transport. Researchers have found that these tribes bred horses not only for strength and mobility but also to produce milk supplies to feed their children.
The Egyptian queen Cleopatra bathed in sour donkey milk as a way to reduce wrinkles and retain her youthful beauty. The sour milk acts as a mild peeling, stripping away dead skin cells and revealing smoother and glowing skin beneath.
Cleopatra is remembered as one of the most beautiful women of all time; her beauty ritual must have created the desired results.
In the middle of the 19th century, Russian doctors recommended fermented mare milk as a treatment for tuberculosis.
While the effectiveness of this disease is not known, Russian writers like Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov were supporters of horse milk as a key to improved health and longevity.
Horse milk today
On the HBO show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the Dalai Lama explained how he decreased alcoholism in Mongolia by convincing his followers to switch from vodka to fermented horse milk.
This beverage, known as airag or kumis, has a low alcohol content that allowed the Dalai Lama to help the Mongolian people stop drinking vodka.
In the 1990s, horse milk became more well-known in Europe, especially in countries such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France where horse dairy farms were established that offered fresh or frozen horse milk to users with health problems.
In 1999, our Equilac® horse dairy farm was the first to produce mare's milk in capsules, making horse milk accessible to everyone through pharmacies.
Read also: The family story behind Equilac®
What makes horse milk so unique?
The well-balanced nutrients in horse milk boosts the immune system and supports the digestive system and intestinal flora. Various health issues can arise when these are weakened.
An essential ingredient in horse milk is lactoferrin, an anti-inflammatory protein that also can be found in breast milk and colostrum.
A study in European Food Research and Technology shows that lactoferrin, lysozyme, and calcium work together as an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial substance.
They are helpful for those with autoimmune disorders related to skin, allergies, and other health problems.
Nutritional value of horse milk
The composition of horse milk is very close to breast milk.
About 40 percent of the protein in mare's milk consists of whey protein, which is almost double the amount found in cow's milk. The higher whey concentration leads to enhanced absorption and digestion as compared with usual dairy products.
Mare's milk contains about half the quantity of casein compared with cow's milk. Drinking horse milk that has a lower casein content can provide added comfort for everyone who reacts badly to casein, like allergic reactions and gastrointestinal pain.
Horse milk is known for its high value in vitamins and minerals. It is rich in Vitamin A, B complex, C, E, and D, and minerals are also sufficiently available. Horse milk has a more balanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus than most other types of milk, which allows improved absorption of calcium throughout the body.
Compared with other milk, horse milk is much lower in calories, which attributes to a lower fat content of 1.25 percent compared with 3.7 percent in cow's milk.
Because of the low-fat percentage, horse milk contains a higher percentage of water, which results in an unfamiliar taste when you drink it the first time.
Health benefits of horse milk
Horse milk offers some significant health benefits for those who drink fresh horse milk or take Equilac® capsules.
Horse milk is recommended for treating the following health issues, among others:
- Skin-related autoimmune disorders (psoriasis, eczema, acne)
- Strengthens the weakened immune system
- Improves the digestive system and intestinal flora
- Eases symptoms of Crohn's disease
- Asthma and other respiratory disorders
- Allergies or sensitivities to cow's milk
While all the known benefits of horse milk have not yet been thoroughly researched, existing studies on mare's milk indicate that it can have significant benefits.
Horse milk for skin issues
Mare's milk is mostly used to help reduce symptoms of psoriasis, eczema, atopic dermatitis, and acne.
During a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, researchers found that patients who were drinking mare milk for 12 weeks experienced a reduction in their Severity Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) from 30.1 to 25.3. This outcome represents a significant improvement that affects the quality of life of these people.
The difference between medication to treat skin conditions is that mare's milk tackles the problem from the inside out, at the source of the skin issue, instead of suppressing just the external symptoms achieved with topical hydrocortisone ointments.
Read also: Why treating psoriasis with horse milk
Horse milk improves the immune system and intestinal flora
Horse milk can increase your resistance to bacterial illnesses and viruses, especially for babies, children, and the elderly. Horse milk is rich in immunoglobulins (antibodies), lactoferrin, and lysozyme, which are proteins that support the immune system.
The antibacterial nature of horse milk can promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which leads to an improved digestive system and intestinal flora.
A healthy gut can improve the function of the gastrointestinal tract and can reduce the symptoms of some digestive disorders, including Crohn's disease and other chronic conditions of the stomach and intestines.
According to research, drinking mare's milk for people with Crohn's disease, can lower abdominal pain, reduce blood visible in stools, and minimize the dependence on other medicines.
The main reasons for these positive effects are the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of mare's milk. By drinking horse milk, patients may be able to stop the progress of Crohn's disease or even reverse some of its symptoms.
Researchers have also seen improvement by patients who have ulcerative colitis, which is related to inflammation of the digestive tract and bowels.
Horse milk against allergies
A study in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology has shown that horse milk is well tolerated by nearly 96 percent of children who have cow's milk allergy. These results do not relate to lactose intolerance, which is a sensitivity and not an allergic response.
The research found that adding horse milk to a diet increased the number of beneficial microbes in the gut, which can be an essential factor in reducing allergic reactions to foods.
The anti-inflammatory properties of horse milk can also provide added protection against some forms of asthma in babies and children.
Drinking pasteurized cow's milk has been linked with an increased risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. By consuming mare's milk as a substitute for some or all of the cow's milk normally consumed, it may reduce the severity and number of asthma attacks.
Which horse milk products to use?
There are several ways to use mare's milk, depending on the region you live and the reason why you want to consume horse milk.
Horse milk can be used as a dietary supplement for better health, a beauty product, or a gastronomic experience while traveling through Mongolia.
Below a summary of the horse milk products available today:
- Fresh or frozen horse milk
- Fermented horse milk or koumiss
- Powdered horse milk
- Horse milk in capsules
- Horse milk cosmetics
Fresh horse milk
For everyone fortunate enough to live near a horse dairy farm, fresh or frozen horse milk is best.
Fresh and unpasteurized horse milk, available at horse milk farms in Europe, is suitable to drink for up to three days, and frozen horse milk can be kept for up to 6 months at -18 °C (-0.4 °F).
It is advised not to drink raw (unpasteurized) horse milk during pregnancy or heat the milk above 38 °C (100 °F), so essential nutrients stay intact.
Fresh or frozen horse milk is available in glass or plastic bottles of 250 ml (8.45 fl. oz) each, this is the recommended daily portion when drinking real horse milk.
Fermented horse milk or koumiss (kumis) is produced by fermenting raw unpasteurized mare's milk up to five hours at a temperature of 27 °C (81 °F). This fermented mare's milk has a low alcohol volume and can be stored for a more extended period. Kumis can be found in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and some Central Asian countries.
You can also make yogurt from mare's milk; this is available at some horse milk farms in Europe.
Horse milk in powder and capsules
Horse milk in a fresh or frozen form is not easy to come by in most countries. As a result, dietary supplements with horse milk powder in capsules or tablets are a better solution for daily intake.
Powdered horse milk is made by freeze-drying or spray-drying fresh mare's milk, so the 91% water present is dried from the horse milk. Both processes are done carefully without damaging the nutritional value of the finished horse milk powder, so the powder keeps its health benefits.
Mare's milk in powder is a more practical solution for long-term shelf life, without adding any preservatives, and can be mixed for consumption in cold water or cold food like yogurt.
It's important not to heat horse milk powder above 38 °C (100 °F), so the active elements are preserved.
The easy-to-take horse milk capsules give more people access to horse milk because they are easy to ship, have a long shelf life of up to 18 months and are available in pharmacies.
It is recommended to use mare's milk capsules for three months to determine whether these are having the desired effect on your health.
Skin care products
The antioxidant and antibacterial properties of horse milk have made it an attractive ingredient to skin cream, body lotion, shampoo, and soap.
Mare's milk cosmetics is used as a complementary treatment for skin issues, and people with sensitive skin or a dry scalp.
Horse milk cheese
Some horse milk farms produce cheese of mare's milk. The lower casein and fat content in horse milk makes it less fitting for making cheese because you need up to 20 liters (5.28 gallons) of mare's milk to produce one kilogram of cheese. With a price of $10 per liter (33.8 fl. oz), the cheese becomes very expensive.
The cheese also losses the health benefits during the heated production process; that's why it is suggested using the scarce availability of mare's milk for health goals.
How is horse milk produced?
Horse milk is obtained by milking mare's that have recently given birth to a foal.
Depending on where in the world the horse milk is produced, it may be collected by hand-milking a mare or by using a milking machine adjusted to the mare udder.
Machine milking guarantees that horse milk is produced according to international hygiene regulations. In both cases, the horses are treated gently to ensure that they can secret milk in an animal-friendly and comfortable way.
The foals stay with their mothers for the first two months after birth and consume all the milk produced by the mare, so that they can grow healthy and strong. After this period, the mare is separated from her foal for a few hours each day.
Depending on the breed and the size of the horse, up to 10 liters of milk per day is produced and about two liters of horse milk is kept for human consumption, this ensures that the growing foals are still sufficiently fed.
The period of separation allows foals to eat hay and grass and to play with each other, which helps in their further development.
Horse milk for pets
Pets such as dogs and cats also benefit from horse milk powder; it can provide a solution for skin and coat problems, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, and the maintenance of a healthy, shiny coat. The powder can be sprinkled or mixed in animal feed or lukewarm water.
The powdered horse milk can also be used as milk replacer for motherless foals.
How much does horse milk cost?
The price for fresh or frozen horse milk is about $10 per liter (33.8 fl. oz), which equates to $70 per month if you want to follow a cure with liquid horse milk. Raw and frozen horse milk is available from horse dairy farms.
If you do not live near a horse dairy farm, you can purchase our Equilac® capsules via this website or from pharmacies in Belgium for the price of $125 for a 3-month treatment.
Equilac® ensures that you have easy access to the consumption of horse milk, wherever you are.