What the Heck Is Colostrum?
Also known as “first milk”, colostrum is produced in the mammary glands of females just prior to giving birth and serves as a concentrated source of proteins, growth factors, and antibodies that are essential for early development of newborns. Its properties have been revered for thousands of years across many cultures: in ancient Chinese medicine, it was regarded as a potent health tonic, and for the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania it has long been regarded as a crucial part of a warrior’s diet. In Britain, dairy farmers refer to colostrum as beestings, and they used any surplus colostrum to make an extra-creamy, and very healthy, pudding. So you can literally think of colostrum as a powerhouse of nutritional ammunition designed to get a newborn through the critical first few days of life. If you’d like a more scientific description of colostrum, then the colostrum Wikipedia page1 will give you what you’re looking for.
Colostrum – Practices Uses & Benefits
Now we can dive into some of the practical aspects of how you can use colostrum if you happen not be a newborn or a 2-day old mammal, which is highly likely.
Alternative to Antibiotics
Colostrum, could be used as an alternative to antibiotics. The immunoglobulins in colostrum have specific immune system activity against many common human pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium parvum, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and rotavirus (yes, that nasty diarrhea disease). Interestingly, prior to the development of antibiotics, colostrum was the primary source of immunoglobulins used to fight infections. When Albert Sabin made his first oral vaccine against polio, the immunoglobulin he used actually came from colostrum. When antibiotics began to appear, interest in colostrum waned, but, now that antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens have developed, interest is once again returning to natural alternatives to antibiotics like colostrum. The study2 “Antibacterial and Anti-inflammatory Properties of Bovine Colostrum” demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against Escherichia. coli, Staphylococcus. aureus, Proteus. vulgaris, Enterobacter. aerogenes and Salmonella. typhi and high anti-inflammatory activity. I personally don’t take colostrum year-round (later in this article I’ll tell you why I don’t take colostrum all the time), but prior to travel or during cold and flu season I “load” with colostrum for several weeks.
Boost Your Immune System
You could also use Colostrum to give your immune system a boost. Perhaps you have heard of “Proline-Rich Polypeptides” or PRP, but probably not. These things have been making the news all over scholarly medical research articles lately3 due to their huge potential for boosting the immune system. So in addition to the infection-fighting immunoglobulins you’ve already learned about, these PRP’s offer a second level of protection. PRP’s are tiny immune signaling peptides that have been discovered in colostrum (and also in other sources, such as blood plasma). Also known as “Colostrinin”, “CLN”, and “transfer factor”, they function as signal transducing molecules that have the unique effect of making microadjustments to your immune system, turning your immunity up when the body comes under attack from pathogens or other disease agents, and damping your immune system down when the danger is eliminated or neutralized. This is called cell-mediated immunity and is basically a process of keeping your immune system finely tuned.
Enhance the Effectiveness Of Probiotics
Colostrum can enhance the effectiveness of Probiotics. Because colostrum helps to heal leaky gut and make the tight junctions in your gut less permeable to foreign invaders, without colostrum, probiotics will not be as effective long term because they will pass through your GI tract and not “stick around” in your gut the way they are supposed to. In this way, colostrum is like soil for the seeds of probiotics. It gives friendly bacteria a place to grow by keeping leaky junctions in your gut more “closed”. This has to do with a protein called Zonulin. Essentially, colostrum inhibits zonulin proteins4 from binding to what are called zonulin receptors in your intestinal cells. When zonulin proteins bind to the receptors, your intestinal wall loosens and opens up, so by preventing that, colostrum helps to prevent leaky gut.
Increases Growth Hormone (and An Important Warning)
And finally, colostrum increases growth hormone, but there is also an important warning when it comes to increasing growth hormone. Colostrum also contains Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). Low IGF-1 levels are not only associated with dementia in the elderly, but people with eating disorders also have low levels of IGF-1 due to malnutrition, as do obese individuals. Sufficient IgF-1 protects the brain,5 encourages activity of muscle protein synthesis,6 suppresses liver glucose production,7 and can alleviate depression.8 The growth-promoting effects most people associate with growth hormone are actually caused by IGF-1. IGF-1 has characteristics of both growth hormone and growth factor since it stimulates the growth, proliferation, and survival of cells such as gut tissue cells and muscle tissue cells. This is why both IGF-1 and growth hormone are often promoted for muscle building, anabolism, recovery and anti-aging. IGF-1 also acts as a neurotrophic factor in the brain. This means that it contributes to neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) and survival of existing neurons (known as a neuroprotective effect). Now here’s the important part: overexpression of growth hormone by 100 to 1,000-fold in mice causes a 50% shorter lifespan, mainly due to kidney and liver dysfunction. In addition, since IGF-1 and growth hormone are “pro-growth.” Thus, excessive long-term use could eventually cause some pretty rapid cell division – which is also known as…cancer.
Supplement Of the Week
- 2900 mg – Goat Milk Colostrum
- Other Ingredients
- Vegetable Cellulose
- Rice Flour
- Milk (Goat Milk)
- Take 2 capsules, twice daily, with water
- Or, during periods of heavy (prolonged) exercise, take up to 8 capsules daily
*Note: Consult your healthcare practitioner before using this product