Natural Biology adds Colostrum to our Top Ten list - and consider it a very important supplement in our natural vitamins and natural multivitamins world.
Colostrum, or first milk, is milk produced by mammals during late pregnancy and within one day of giving birth. It contains specialized antibodies, proteins, growth factors, and other compounds designed to aid in digestion and help newborns survive in the world. The high concentration of immune system boosters makes colostrum useful not only for newborn mammals, but for adult humans as well. Especially for people suffering from bacterial infections, colostrum can be a useful supplement to antibiotics. With so many new strains of antibiotic-resistant staph, strep, and other bacteria, medical researchers have become interested in studying the health effects of colostrum, which, prior to the discovery of penicillin, was used exclusively to treat infections. This is not the first time doctors have shown interest in colostrum; the first oral vaccine against polio was made by Albert Sabin from bovine colostrum.
Colostrum doesn't look like you would expect milk to look. It is yellow, thick, and sticky. Farmers have long known about the health benefits of colostrum, both for newborn farm animals and for sick humans. These days, you can get colostrum supplements more easily in pill and powdered form than you can get the actual substance, unless you happen to know someone who works on a farm. These are often easier to digest, but are slightly less effective than actual colostrum.
What Is In Colostrum?
Bovine colostrum, used in most supplements is comprised of many different compounds. It contains:
* Immunoglobins, also known as the IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies, used to identify pathogens ranging from influenza to e. coli to the common cold.
* Lactoferrin, a potent antifungal, antimicrobial compound
* Lysozyme, a chemical used by the body to destroy bacterial cell walls
* Proline-rich peptides, which help modulate the immune response, turning it up when harmful pathogens are in the body, and turning it down so the immune system doesn't harm the body.
* Growth factors for internal antibiotic substances, skin cells, and red and white blood cells, which means that ingesting colostrum makes the body produce more of these important compounds.
* Vitamin A, useful for eye, skin, immune, and bone health, among other things.
* Intestinal "sealants," which patch up holes or damage to the intestines and help ensure that only nutrients get absorbed by the body.
Current Research Into Colostrum
All the research has consistently shown that colostrum improves antibody levels in the blood, which decreases . Colostrum has proven effective by Australian researcher G.P. Davidson in preventing the spread of rotavirus in young children. Indeed, while the group of children who took regular supplements of colostrum did not get sick with any diseases, all the children in the control group were affected by rotavirus, one of the most common childhood intestinal diseases.
Colostrum has also been shown to be effective by Drs. Playford, Macdonald, and Johnson in protecting the walls of the intestine. This makes sense, because its role for newborns is quite similar. On a practical level, certain medical drugs cause the lining of the intestine to become more permeable than usual, which may lead to negative side effects. Supplementing a drug such as Indomethacin, an anti-inflammatory medicine, with colostrum can prevent gastrointestinal infections from occurring.
Some sports doctors and researchers are currently doing tests to see if colostrum proves useful for athletic supplementation. Swimmers on the Australian Olympic team in the 2008 Olympics, who took colostrum supplements, received more gold medals in swimming events than the typically dominant hosts, the Chinese. Researchers theorize that colostrum works similarly to creatine, which helps the body recover from workouts faster and grow more lean muscle mass. Because it doesn't show up on doping scans, colostrum may be proven to be a viable and powerful supplement for serious athletes. Further research is required to prove its worth in sports medicine beyond a shadow of a doubt.
As an immune booster, Colostrum is inarguably one of the best supplements on the market. Its manifold other benefits, however, are still being discovered daily.