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   Inside Out - East: Monday 17, January 2005

BUFFALO MILK - THE HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE

Water Buffalo

Meet the Asian Water Buffalo. There are 150m worldwide and in countries like India they provide more milk than any other animal. Surprising then to find these gentle creatures grazing peacefully on the wide open plains of … Leighton Buzzard?

Pasteurised buffalo milk is not just a tasty option, it appears to be a healthy one too.

Ellen and Mike
Ellen and Mike believe that buffalo milk contributed to their health improvement

Third generation farmer Nick Griffin, whose family have been farming in the Leighton Buzzard area since 1920, turned to buffalo in 1988.

Nick began with 120 animals after the BSE scare persuaded him to quit farming conventional livestock.

He now has more than 300 buffalo and has plans to expand.

Health supplement?

Buffalo - the Facts
  • The domestic buffalo is descended from the wild water buffalo
  • The horns of all buffalo are triangular in section
  • Most domestic water buffalo are found in the hot, wet areas of the world where rice is produced
  • Over 95% of water buffalo are found in Asia
  • More than one-half of the remainder are found in Africa, primarily Egypt
  • The annual milk yield of good cows, depending on strain, is between 1500 and 3000kg
  • Buffalo milk contains 7-8% fat
  • The production of buffalo milk in the Asian-Pacific region exceeds 45m tonnes annually
  • Over 30m tonnes are produced in India alone
  • No difference in the nutritive value and digestibility of milks from cow and buffalo
  • Cholesterol content of buffalo milk is 0.65 mg/g as compared to 3.14 mg/g for cow milk
  • Buffalo milk has 11.42% higher protein than cows milk
  • Buffalo milk is superior to cows milk in calcium (+9%), iron (+37.7%) and phosphorus (+118%)
  • Buffalo metabolise all dietary carotene into vitamin A, which is passed into the milk
  • The presence of higher levels of immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, lysozyme, lactoperoxidase make buffalo milk suitable for special dietary and health foods
  • Cheese made from buffalo milk displays typical body and textural characteristics.
  • More specifically, where chewing and stringing properties are specially desired as in the case of Mozzarella cheese
  • Domestic buffalo, in human care, are placid and patient, and also easy to control

Nick's customers are not just drinking buffalo milk because it tastes good; eczema suffers drink it to help cure their skin complaints.

It appears to help those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome too.

Those with allergies, or a lactose intolerance, are finding it an agreeable change from goats' milk.

Both Mike and Ellen are regular consumers of buffalo milk.

Mike, who suffers from psoriasis, said: "I cannot take cow's milk in any form whatsoever.

"It is only since I have had buffalo milk that I have ever been able to drink milk.

"I have seen such a vast improvement, I only occasionally get a flare up now."

Ellen agreed: "It has helped me enormously with my high blood pressure.

"I enjoy buffalo milk enormously, once you become addicted to it you cannot leave it alone."

Nick: "We have dozens and dozens of people with eczema, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome … Over 100 customers rely on the milk.

"The buffalos' immune system seems to be stronger than that of cows.

"They have not been given as many antibiotics as dairy cows and are more disease resistant.

"The natural immunity which they would pass on to their own young, through the milk, is passed on to us."

Nick Griffin
“Is the immunity which buffalo would pass on to their calves, through milk, given to humans?”
Nick Griffin

But unless this is medically proved Nick cannot advertise these benefits.

"Legally we are not allowed to say anything.

"There are very strict claims in what can be said about foods, to protect the public."

Straw poll

Inside Out decided to investigate the truth of these "health benefit" claims.

Pranny Pranar from Luton suffers from psoriasis and eczema and was keen to give buffalo milk a go.

Pranny has had eczema and psoriasis on his arms, back and leg for years.

Pranny Pranar
“I suffer from psoriasis and eczema and want to try buffalo milk”
Pranny Pranar

He has tried all the prescription drugs but nothing has worked.

Would he give the buffalo milk a try?

Pranny said: "Funnily enough, my wife had mentioned buffalo milk and said it would help, because in India that is what people often take it for.

"But I thought ... where around here would I find a herd of buffalo?

"Then you called.

"But I have tried everything else, so I will give it a go."

Allergic to dairy products

Children are often affected by eczema.

Mum and Lloyd
“I am allergic to 2,556 things”
Lloyd

Nine-year-old Lloyd has been a sufferer since he was six months old.

Lloyd is allergic to dairy products but doctors would like to find a milk he can drink because they are concerned about his bone development.

Medical opinion is cautious about heralding buffalo milk as a miracle cure.

In fact current thinking argues that the causes and controls for eczema are not the same for everyone.

Food allergies?

Dr David Taylor
“... only 10% of eczema cases are triggered by diet”
Dr David Taylor

Dr David Taylor, Leighton Buzzard GP commented: "Most children with eczema have acquired it through genetic makeup not environmental contacts.

"Current thinking is that only 10% of eczema cases are triggered by food ingredients.

"To get a food product medically endorsed requires medical trials with 100s of case studies, approval from local medical ethics committee and primary care trusts.

"All carried out over long period of time.

"Costs are prohibitive for an individual."

Nick cannot afford these trials and without being able to advertise the health benefits of the milk to attract more customers his business is in danger of collapse.

'Straw poll' results

One month after Inside Out's first visit to the buffalo farm we checked up on our own trials and see how everyone is doing.

It looks positive for Pranny, but for Lloyd it is not so clear.

Pranny Pranar has seen an improvement in his skin since drinking the buffalo milk and believes it has helped.

On the other hand, Lloyd's mum said: "The eczema fluctuated from bad to controllable.

"Whether this was down to buffalo milk, or not, I do not know.

"I would like to think it was and carry on with the buffalo milk"

They may not be miracle cures, but each in its own way is a positive response to the milk.

In conclusion

Doctors agree that there is no one cure for conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

But it does seem a shame that what helps some people may not be around for much longer.

Ellen said: "If Nick closed down the buffalo milk business we would be back to square one.

"Shouldn't someone help Nick?"

Mike continues in his support: "It is not a miracle cure, it has just got something in it that has a benefit in it

"If I had the money I would help Nick."

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Supermarket to sell buffalo milk
Buffalo milk deliveries planned

On the rest of the web
Buffalo House

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Tiffani Cave
Where is my nearest supplier of buffalo milk? My two nearest Waitrose - Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury - do not supply it. I would be interested in all buffalo products, particularly "dairy" as I have a dairy allergy.

Claire Howarth
I suffer from psoriasis and always find it tends to flare up more in winter. I would love to know where I would be able to get hold of some buffalo milk 'uder'wise Im worried my skin will get worse and I sick of using lotions and potions that just dont work. If anyone knows of anywhere I can get hold of some in the Liverpool or Peterborough areas.

Lesley Bailey
I have had eczema for a long time and nothing seemed to help. I was on the strongest steroids and immune suppressants were the next step. I was never tested for food allergies, they simply refused saying there was no point. Then I met a homeopath who suggested a change to my diet by cutting out dairy and limiting wheat products. This was two years ago and I have been so much better and my life has changed so much since cutting these products down. I now use less emoliants in a year than I used to use in a month. I would love to try the buffalo milk as a substitute to soya and goats milk.

angie
My brother suffers with psoriasis and wishes to know if you have any further proof of its healing properties for this condition if so perhaps you could let me know if there are any places near my home that it would be available to me in east anglia.

GM
I wonder how the doctors know that only 10% of eczema cases are triggered by food allergies. It seems almost impossible to persaude GP's to do any sort of allergy test whatsover. They seem more interested in prescribing drugs, which often have serious side effects, than in investigating to ACTUAL causes of these disorders.

Diana Hare, Exec Producer Inside Out
Here are the details for anyone wanting to buy Buffalo milk from the farm we featured on the programme. Tel 01525 220 256 www.buffalohouse.co.uk

Gary Line
If these benefits are well documented its about time the Government/Regulatory bodies pulled their fingers out and supported Nick's enterprise - carrying out the necessary testing to allow the advertising of the product. I live in northamptonshire with my wife who suffers with psoriasis. I was interested in this feature and would be interested in knowing where we could purchase this product.

Sarah Land
I was diagonsed with cows milk intolerance 15 months ago and have been using buffalo milk since January 2004. Before I discovered buffalo milk my diet was miserable - I couldn't stomach soya milk or any of the alternatives. Buffalo milk tastes creamy and rich and it has transformed my diet. It would be devastating if Nick has to close down. Not just for me and his customers but for himself and his family. He is so passionate about buffalo farming.

Irene Morris
My husband has an allergy to anything from the cow ie. milk and beef. On shopping at Waitrose in Milton Keynes, I discovered they were selling buffalo milk from Leighton Buzzard. My husband tentatively agreed to try the milk, firstly in coffee- no reaction and then more daringly on cereal. Again there was no reaction to the milk. He now has rediscovered the pleasure of tasting "proper" milk which he says is extremely creamy and enjoyable. From his point of view it has been an amazing discovery and he looks forward to trying more of the products if we can source them.

irene squirrell
This sounds just what my family need and would love to know where if possible it is avaiable in my area of Beccles suffolk, willing to pay postage and how long a life has the milk Irene

Mr Peers
I would be very interested in trying the Buffalo milk as I suffer very badly with eczema during the winter months. It's a real shame that the dairy farmer dealing in buffalo milk is up against hard times. He can count on my support if his product helps me in any way.

Tricia Ryan
I have psoriasis and would be very interested in trying buffalo milk. I would like to konow how to get in touch with Nick Griggin at his farm, or where this milk is available to buy. Like others mentioned above, I hve tried allsorts of lotions potions, and treatments. I would be grateful if you can give me any information. Thank you.

Tobi Baker
Having watched the programme earlier today, it struck a chord of sympathy. A meber of my family suffers from psoriasis, and I was wondering how it is possible to go about purchasing the buffulo milk. Thank you very much, and for the programme too, I certainly never knew before about the effects of buffulo milk!

B. G. CLARK
HAVING WATCHED THE PROGRAMME I WONDERED IF YOU DELIVERED ANYWERE. IF SO WHAT IS THE COST OF THE MILK AND WHAT IS THE SMALLEST AMOUNT THAT YOU CAN ORDER AND YOU WOULD DELIVER.

Andrew Thorne
My wife is a psoriasis sufferer and nothing in the past twenty years has worked. We are both keen to try Buffalo milk to see if it can help her and keep my high cholesterol under control. If it works, wonderful, if not then at least we have tried and if the Indian sub-continent can survive on it then so should we be able to. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Kelly Miller
My partner has eczema and would like to know where we could get buffalo milk from, he has been in hospital seven times in one year and uses loads of drugs to control it. We live in Southend on Sea, Essex. Please could you get us some info to help my partner. If it helps people like my partner then it should be on sale everywhere.



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