It seems that nearly every week there's a new superfood or health product directed at every health complaint under the sun. Since I've been writing about natural health, nutrition and alternative medicine for over twenty years, I've seen a lot of these so-called miracle substances come and go. That is not to say that there aren't powerful natural remedies being discovered, or more accurately "rediscovered" but there are also quite a few that fall short of the over-the-top claims they make.

Whenever a new, broad-spectrum supplement appears on the market, you know… the one that everyone jumps on the bandwagon because it's supposed to do everything from boost the immune system, to burn fat, to improve your sex life… I tend to not only be very skeptical, but put on my detective's hat and investigate it thoroughly.

That's exactly what happened with bovine colostrum. When I first heard about it, the health claims seemed simply too good to be true. Yet, I was intrigued and so, I began researching it. Then, I began to get excited. Perhaps, it was true and just maybe colostrum was this complete and natural substance that could help the body return to a state of homeostasis — a state of vibrant health and vitality, just as Mother Nature intended.

Colostrum is what is often referred to as "pre-milk", or the fluid produced by the mother's mammary glands during the first 72 hours following the birth of her child. Colostrum provides vital immune and growth factors that ensure the health and vitality of the newborn. In fact, all mammals produce colostrum after giving birth to their young, and receiving colostrum is so important that most baby animals would die without it.

During the fifties and sixties, many doctors recommended against breastfeeding. In my view, this was the height of the "arrogance of science" — trying to convince us that man-made infant formulas were better than mother's milk. Because so many were not breastfed, the natural "seeding" of the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria in colostrum was lacking. Mother Nature, in all her wisdom, had given infants an amazing substance which allowed them to grow, develop, feel good, and resist disease. But, by not having this initial boost to both the immune and digestive systems, non-breastfed individuals started out on a path to disease vulnerability. And a lifetime of exposure to disease-causing microbes, allergens and environmental pollutants only made things worse because of the poor start in life.

As I learned more about colostrum, the more I realized that supplementing one's diet with bovine colostrum could be a real game-changer in preserving and restoring human health. Now, the medical evidence shows that adults can receive tremendous, wide-ranging benefits that colostrum can provide.

Colostrum is a Potent Modulator for Immune Function

Nearly all infectious and degenerative diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are preceded or accompanied by impaired functioning of the immune system. This impairment can occur years or decades before the actual disease is diagnosed. Studies show that colostrum contains powerful immune factors (immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, cytokines and interferon) that work to help restore a properly functioning immune system.

Colostrum also contains PRPs (proline-rich-polypeptides), which have been shown to be powerful immune system modulators. Some PRPs work by stimulating an underactive immune system and help restore the thymus gland to optimal functioning capability. The thymus gland is important because it produces the vital T-cells which fight viruses and antigens. Other PRPs work by toning down an overactive immune system, which is typical of autoimmune conditions where the body essentially attacks itself.

Anecdotal testimonials point to colostrum's amazing ability to help manage or alleviate the symptoms of otherwise debilitating conditions. People who have been taking colostrum regularly for some time for an unrelated condition report that they no longer get colds or the flu. Moreover, people who begin taking colostrum when they are already sick with a viral or bacterial infection report accelerated healing and shorter recovery times.

Colostrum's Growth Factors — Not Just for Newborns

Colostrum contains numerous growth factors (hormones) which promote healing and create an anti-aging response. Research shows that colostrum's growth factors offer the following benefits:

• Regenerate and accelerate normal growth of aged or injured muscle, bone, cartilage, skin collagen and nerve tissue.

• Help the body burn fat for fuel instead of muscle tissue in times of fasting or dieting.

• Help build and retain lean muscle.

• Repair DNA and RNA.

• Heal burns, surgical incisions, cuts, abrasions, and mouth sores with topical application.

• Control infection and pain associated with gingivitis, sensitive teeth and dental work.

• Help regulate blood glucose levels and "brain chemicals", providing alertness and better concentration.

• Help regulate the brain's "feel-good" chemicals to brighten mood.

It was great to know that colostrum could make you feel better and heal faster, but if it could help you look better as you age, well that was an added bonus. There may be a fountain of youth after all! Skin appears more youthful. Age and "liver" spots disappear. Bone mass and density is increased. Sexual function is improved and restored. Muscle mass, which normally decreases with age, can be preserved or increased. According to articles in "IronMan" and "Muscle and Fitness" (I was amazed at how technical and carefully researched these bodybuilding articles were), colostrum is as powerful as illegal, synthetic steroids at creating new muscle mass when weightlifting exercises are performed!

And, on the topic of side effects… as in the health risks of synthetic growth hormone, colostrum doesn't have side effects and is not contraindicated if you are taking other medications. Anyone who is foolish enough to take synthetic growth hormone, the side-effects are severe — hormonal imbalance, endocrine system damage, reproductive system damage, cardiovascular damage, and potentially even the development of cancer.

One of the things that impresses me most about colostrum is that it is a whole, complete natural substance which doesn't need to be overly processed in order to be effective. In fact, minimal and gentle processing is preferred. Colostrum is not some sort of "designer supplement" made in a laboratory somewhere. It is nature's own wonder drug. Colostrum is considered to be a "broad spectrum" because it does so much for a newborn mammal. As baby mammals, we are all very weak and feeble when we first come into this world. Mother Nature, in response to this, provides one of the most powerful superfoods in existence to help propel us into rapid physical growth, mental development, resistance to disease, and a great sense of well-being.

Colostrum is not a new discovery, but rather a rediscovery. In fact, the medical use of colostrum goes back thousands of years.

Is Bovine Colostrum Safe and Effective for Humans?

Research has shown that bovine colostrum is easily assimilated by humans and is up to 40 times richer in immune factors than human colostrum. Also, the research shows that only cows' colostrum contains special glycoproteins and protease inhibitors which are extremely effective at protecting the destruction of colostrum's active components by adult human digestive enzymes and stomach acids.

And bovine colostrum is safe for consumption by humans. According to Dr. Robert Preston with the International Institute of Nutritional Research, "Colostrum is so safe, it has been prepared by nature as the first food for infants. It would be hard to imagine any nutritional substance more natural or beneficial."

There have been no contraindications, side effects, or allergies reported during the thousands of years of human consumption. Although, we do know that colostrum's ability to increase the surface area of the small intestine can potentially make some medications, vitamins, and minerals more absorbable. This may necessitate that your doctor reduce your medication dosage. You'll also get more nutrition from the foods you eat.

Colostrum's Effectiveness Varies Based on Its Source and How It Is Processed

Colostrum must be collected and processed correctly in order to become an effective supplement. Desired or anticipated health results can vary widely depending upon the quality of the colostrum you take. First, colostrum should come from pasture-fed cows that are pesticide, antibiotic and hormone free — essentially "organic". Since the cow is the "factory" for producing colostrum, this factory shouldn't be contaminated with harmful chemicals and unwanted drugs. When a cow eats green grass, instead of dried, processed feed, it receives the live enzymes, and its colostrum contains more of these beneficial enzymes which aid in assimilation by humans. Additionally, live food from the pasture contains both beneficial and non-beneficial soil-based organisms. Surprisingly, these both contribute positively to the attributes of the colostrum. The cow develops natural immunity to harmful soil-based bacteria and other pathogens, which is passed on in its colostrum. The immunity transferred to the calf is the same immunity transferred to humans when they consume colostrum. The beneficial soil-based organisms have been shown to create positive conditions within the human bowel and are likewise, passed along to the human consumer via the cow's colostrum.

Second, colostrum processed at high heat will lose much or most of its biological activity. Flash pasteurization (to kill pathogens) plus low-heat spray drying is critical to an efficacious supplement.

Third, a liposomal delivery system is important so that the body can assimilate colostrum's healing components. Colostrum needs to be water-soluble and encapsulated with liposomes (fat molecules) so that it can readily disperse in the human bowel and thus, be absorbed by the body's cells.

Unfortunately, most of the colostrum brands available on the market today do not meet the above criteria. The industry and infrastructure in the United States for collecting and marketing colostrum has been established largely for veterinary purposes. In fact, some colostrum brands marketed for human consumption are simply veterinary-grade colostrum repackaged for human use. Most veterinary-grade colostrum is frozen before transportation, and once it is frozen, it is virtually impossible to ensure that it will be water-soluble.

Sovereign Laboratories, which has been on the forefront of colostrum research, processing, and standardization for more than two decades, provides the highest quality powdered bovine colostrum supplement available. Every batch is pre-and post-tested for the presence of bioactive components in healing quantities. Prior to that, all fresh, raw colostrum is certified to come from healthy, rBST (hormone)-free, BSE ("mad cow")-free, antibiotic-free, and pesticide-free dairy cows. Sovereign Laboratories applies its proprietary liposomal delivery (LD) system to every colostrum particle in a state-of-the-art processing plant. According to Dr. Robert Milne, MD (one of the leading experts on liposomal delivery), "Colostrum-LD is up to 1,500% more bio-available and is the most effective colostrum in the world." That's good news for anyone who wants "one stop health and healing benefits" and to live life free of unnecessary pain and suffering.