Colostrum is the first milk produced by all lactating mammals, including humans. Prior to the onset of true lactation, colostrum provides a unique food for the newborn during the first 24 to 72 hours of life. It is low in fat, high in carbohydrates and protein, and is easily digested. Its most valuable attribute is the high antibody content that protects the newborn infant against viruses, bacteria, allergens, and toxins until the infant’s own immune system comes into play. Colostrum is particularly rich in the immunoglobulins IgG, IgA, IgM, and IgE, all of which are important in increasing immunity to a variety of potentially allergic and harmful substances. IgG neutralizes toxins and microbes in the lymph and circulatory system. IgM destroys bacteria, while IgE and IgA are highly antiviral. Colostrum also stimulates growth and rapid healing.
Recent studies have shown that colostrum can also provide the same immune-boosting and healing effects in adults. Bovine colostrum derived from the first milk of cows is suitable for human use as it contains immunoglobulins and other components essential to rapid growth and healing that are chemically identical to that of human colostrum.
Bovine colostrum for human consumption is collected from cows during the first 24 hours after birth. It is then sterilized, homogenized, pasteurized, and spray dried. The immunoglobulin content of colostrum is stable at high temperatures and is unaffected by these processes.
Colostrum can be used to accelerate muscle and cartilage repair and is often used by both patients and athletes to facilitate healing after injury or rigorous training. Patients with immune system disorders also benefit from supplementation with colostrum, particularly for conditions involving the immune system such as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel disorder, HIV, and lupus. Colostrum in capsule form is best for immune system disorders. Powder form is recommended for use as a food supplement for growth and healing purposes.
Colostrum has been found to be of use in the treatment of HIV-related disorders; in particular, against cryptosporidium infection. It has also been shown to be effective against the common yeast infection candida albicans. Acid reflux, ulcers, hemorrhoids, gingivitis and Lyme disease have all been shown to respond favorably to colostrum supplementation.
Bovine colostrum has been found to reduce the PSA (prostate specific antigens) readings in males over 50 and may be useful in the prevention of prostate cancer. Allergies, such as seasonal hay fever, allergic headaches, and skin rashes, have also been demonstrated to respond well to colostrum supplementation.
As reported in the March 1998 edition of The American Journal of Natural Medicine, colostrum was noted for its anti-aging effects on the body. Studies have demonstrated that colostrum supplementation results in decreased body fat, increased bone density and muscle mass, and thicker, more elastic skin. Athletes will also notice a difference in aerobic ability and muscle definition. Colostrum favors endurance and faster recovery rates and is nature’s first and most perfect food, with no known side effects.