27 December 2013 19:05

Doctors and scientists say donkey milk has the potential to be a medical marvel but its rarity makes it a pricey commodity.
During the recent discussion on donkey milk at The Cyprus University of Technology (TEPAK), scientists and lecturers voiced the benefits of a product which has in the past served as a remedy and - in ancient worlds like Egypt - even a cosmetic used by royalty such as Cleopatra.
But actually getting hold of some donkey milk is easier said that done. According to its price on the black market, a litre of donkey milk can be sold between €25 and €50 although one paediatrician told The Cyprus Daily recently that he was charged as much as €1,000 for a litre. Prices in Greece hover between €30 and €100 per litre.
"Actually finding it is very difficult", Paeditrician Dr Michalis Psiloinis told The Cyprus Daily. "That is because you need to find a donkey that has recently given birth. The actual milk produced is also little."
According to experts, a donkey can only produce around 1.5 litres of milk per day.
Psiloinis, who as a youngster growing up in Egypt was given donkey milk as it is believed to be a good medicine against illnesses such as pertussis [whooping coughing condition], described what the milk tastes like.
"It is odourless and is said to be similar to breast milk. In other words, it has a slightly sweetish tinge."
Although relatively poor in protein and fat it is rich in lactose and was actually used until the beginning of the twentieth century as a substitute to breast milk in many countries.
"Today, however, donkey milk is mainly frowned upon by most of the western world. In 2001, it was officially banned by the United States Department of Agriculture.
But other scientists disagree and argue that donkey milk can be a good substitute for people allergic to cow's milk although, again, the question of price comes largely into the equation.
"If a litre could cost up to €1,000 then a glass of donkey milk could put people back some €100," continued Psiloinis. "As you can imagine, I passed on the chance to purchase the milk from that person."
Also in attendance at the discussion in Limassol were Italian Professor Elisabetta Salimei, Greek lecturers Dr Georgios Arsenos and Eleni Malissiova and TEPAK Lecturer Fotos Papadimas.
According to Demetris Zografos of Dipotamos Donkey Farm in Skarinou, more than 70% of the donkeys in Cyprus are between 20 and 40 years old and many suffer from arthritis and other age-related health problems.
"There are around 1,000 donkeys in Cyprus and we have 116 here on our farm", he told The Cyprus Daily.


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