Colostrum is a thick yellow fluid, rich in protein, growth factors, and immune factors (or transfer factors). It is secreted by the mammary glands of all female mammals during the first few days of lactation. It also contains essential nutrients and protease inhibitors that keep it from being destroyed by the processes of digestion. Humans produce relatively small amounts of colostrum in the first two days after giving birth, but cows produce about 9 gallons (36 L) of colostrum. Bovine colostrum can be transferred to all other mammals, and it is four times richer in immune factors than human colostrum.
Although colostrum has received widespread attention as a dietary supplement only since the late 1990s, it has a lengthy history of medicinal use. Ayurvedic physicians in India have used colostrum as a treatment for thousands of years. In the United States, mainstream medical practitioners recommended colostrum as a natural antibiotic before the discovery of penicillin and sulfa drugs. In the 1950s, colostrum was used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Dr. Albert Sabin, the researcher who developed the first oral vaccine for poliomyelitis, found that colostrum contains antibodies against polio. He recommended colostrum as a dietary supplement for children who were vulnerable to polio.
The major components of colostrum include the following substances:
Colostrum is presently used to treat a variety of diseases and disorders. Applications that have been investigated in clinical trials include the following:
Bacterial and Viral Infections
A number of recent clinical studies have shown that colostrum is effective in reversing the inflammation of the digestive tract in HIV/AIDS patients caused by opportunistic infections. The antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties of colostrum enable it to kill such pathogens as E. coli, Candida albicans, rotaviruses, and Cryptosporidium.
In 1980, a British researcher showed that a large proportion of the antibodies and immunoglobulins in colostrum are not absorbed by the body but remain in the digestive tract. There they attack food and water-borne organisms that cause disease. More recent clinical studies have demonstrated that colostrum is effective in preventing intestinal infections by first keeping the bacteria from attaching themselves to the intestinal wall, and secondly by killing the bacteria themselves. Colostrum has proven capable of killing Campylobacter, Helicobacter pylori, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigellosis, and five types of streptococci.
Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases
The PRP in colostrum has been demonstrated to reduce or eliminate the pain, swelling, and inflammation associated with allergies and autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, myasthenia gravis). Many autistic individuals test positive for autoimmune disorders, and colostrum can help to regulate this dysfunction. These effects are related to PRP's ability to inhibit the overproduction of lymphocytes (white blood cells) and T-cells.
Colostrum is available at Health Food Stores and is relatively inexpensive.
Author/s: Rebecca Frey