Bovine colostrum, the milky fluid expressed by dairy cows in the first few days after giving birth, is a nutrient-rich substance that is packed with proteins, carbohydrates, and fats along with a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, immune-modulating components, and growth factors. It also contains antibodies and immunoglobulins that help fight off potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. Overall, these substances work synergistically to improve gut and immune health. Studies also suggest that bovine colostrum supports general digestive processes by eliminating harmful pathogens in the intestines, supporting the repair of intestinal wall tissue, and reducing symptoms of diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Colostrum may also help to support gut health by feeding the beneficial gut bacteria and thus, crowding out the pathogenic bacteria.
To learn more, we asked several experts in the health and medical field why they might recommend colostrum.
Immune Enhancing Potential
There was a resounding agreement that colostrum should be recommended for its potential to support the immune system thanks to its rich combination of enzymes, antibodies, and growth factors.
Caleb Backe, the Health and Wellness Expert at Maple Holistics, noted the high amount of lactoferrin in colostrum. “Lactoferrin, the protein found in colostrum, helps to boost immunity and balance our T-cells,” Backe says, “This can regulate our bodies’ defenses against pathogens. This is especially useful for patients with particularly weak immune systems, like patients undergoing chemotherapy.”
According to Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, a Doctor of Pharmacy, gut health expert, and functional medicine practitioner at Real Health Solutions, colostrum contains other growth and immune factors, including IGF-1, immunoglobulins, and amino acids, all of which work to support a healthy immune system.
Dr. Heidi Iratcabal, a certified functional medicine practitioner and founding partner of the Carpathia Collaborative, identifies the proline-rich peptides in colostrum. These are cell signalers that essentially instruct the immune system to turn on and determine which cytokines to produce. “They activate our thymus to make T cells, which then activates TH1 or TH2 immune responses,” Dr. Iratcabal says of proline-rich peptides, “Our body is constantly taking the information (food, exercise, stress, fun, allergies, etc.) and signaling a TH1 or TH2 response.”
Dr. Iratcabal compares this response to a seesaw. An immune response that is too dominant on either side will result in allergies or autoimmune disorders. “Colostrum helps bring that back into balance. It doesn’t matter whether you are having an allergy or struggling with an autoimmune disease. Colostrum acts as a reboot to the immune system, which is why it is called an immune modulator.”
Supporting Gut Health
Along with its potential to modulate the immune system, bovine colostrum is often recommended to support gut health and promote proper digestion. According to registered dietitian Lauren Manaker from Nutrition Now Counseling, part of this comes from colostrum’s potential to support your probiotic health. Probiotics refer to the beneficial bacteria that exist in your gut. This complex community of bacteria helps digest food and absorb nutrients and contributes to nearly all facets of your general health and wellbeing.
Manaker says, “Colostrum provides a probiotic called human milk oligosaccharide. This probiotic supports the growth of certain other probiotics and therefore supports a healthy gut.”
Dr. Lukyanovsky often recommends colostrum for clients with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s and colitis, saying, “There are reports that colostrum can help heal and repair inflamed intestinal lining after the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen.”
According to Dr. Iratcabal, bovine colostrum’s gut healing abilities come in part from its immunoglobulin content. Immunoglobulins are a type of protein in the immune system that act as antibodies. Colostrum contains immunoglobulins A, D, E, G, and M. Dr. Iratcabal goes on to say, “So much of this immune modulation happens in the gastrointestinal tract, so colostrum is very effective in supporting the digestive tract, like preventing bacteria (H. pylori) attaching to our gut lining.”
Inflammation is a natural part of the immune response. It is necessary to heal wounds, repair damaged tissue, and fight off bacteria and viruses. However, in some individuals, inflammation becomes chronic or occurs in places that do not require it. This “inappropriate inflammation” has been linked to cardiovascular disease and other health problems; it may also lead to autoimmune disorders, such as arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and mental illnesses.
Caleb Backe recommends bovine colostrum for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in cases involving leaky gut disease. He says, “Leaky gut disease leads to inflammation in the body that is linked with numerous chronic health issues. Bovine colostrum binds to endotoxins to neutralize their effect thus reducing inflammation. This is especially relevant to anyone suffering from psoriasis which is associated with a high level of endotoxins.”
Support Healthy Skin
While colostrum is often used in supplement form, it may also be applied topically according to Allison Tray of Tres Belle Spa. “At Tres Belle Spa, we apply and suggest colostrum serum to clients with very dry skin to keep skin soft during the change of the seasons. Colostrum prevents flare-ups of rosacea and eczema and stimulates the skin’s own healing mechanisms.”
If you want to learn more or are inspired to try colostrum (no prescription necessary!), visit Sovereign Laboratories today.