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Colostrum and Allergies

A person is said to have an allergy when their immune system overreacts to the presence of a substance (an allergen) that is not normally considered to be of danger to the body. When a person becomes hypersensitive to one or more allergens, the body assumes it is being invaded by something nasty and calls up the defense forces to neutralize the offending substance. Unfortunately, the release of histamine during this response produces unwelcome symptoms such as sneezing, runny or stuffed nose, itchy eyes, breathing difficulties, and, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock and death. Typical allergens include pollen and spores, house mites, animal dander and hair, foods such as nuts and seafood, penicillin, and insect stings.

Colostrum, the “first milk” produced by mammals immediately after giving birth, contains over 90 known components. Many of these compounds are involved in supporting the newborn infant’s immune system. They, therefore, have a role to play in controlling the body’s response to potentially harmful outside invaders; that is, the mechanism that is erroneously invoked in those who have become sensitized to allergens.

The good news for allergy sufferers is that colostrum is not only a vital substance for newborns, but, when taken as a supplement, it can provide a huge range of benefits for people of all ages. Furthermore, it has been shown that bovine colostrum, which is available in commercial quantities, is fully compatible with the human body. In fact, bovine colostrum has the additional advantage of being four times richer in immune factors than human colostrum, and it contains some compounds that protect the active ingredients from the destructive effects of the human digestive system, thus allowing them to remain active for a longer period.

Research has identified an ingredient called praline-rich polypeptide (PRP) as one of the main components of colostrum that is responsible for eliminating or improving the symptoms of allergies. It is also thought to be potentially useful for other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and MS. According to Staroscik et al, 1983 (Molecular Immunology, Vol. 20, No. 12, pp. 1277-1282), PRP has the same ability to regulate activity of the immune system as do hormones produced by the thymus gland. It can stimulate an under-active system into dealing with disease-causing organisms and it can also suppress an over-active system which results from autoimmune disorders and allergic reactions.

PRP’s ability to reduce allergic symptoms is thought to be partly due to inhibition of the lymphocyte (white blood cell) and T-cell overproduction that is normally associated with an allergic reaction. PRP may also assist in the creation of special cells (helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells) which suppress and switch off the immune response. Other studies have shown that PRP is highly anti-inflammatory, which helps to reduce the effects of the histamine that has been released.

Bovine colostrum has also been shown to contain an array of antibodies to common allergens that can affect humans. These antibodies are built up over time by the cows as they themselves respond to the allergens. When a person ingests the antibodies via colostrum, they remain on hand to assist in the body’s response to allergen exposure.