Colostrum Benefits and AFS
Colostrum is that miracle fluid produced by mammalian breasts during pregnancy. It is the first meal many infants get if they are breast fed. Colostrum benefits are being studied because of its nutritional and anti-inflammatory properties, among others.
Human females begin making colostrum about four months into a pregnancy. This is the liquid that leaks out of the breasts during pregnancy.
Bovine colostrum may be one of the most potent sources of factors that grow the immune system of their offspring and pass along a tremendous number of antibodies. Research has discovered that bovine colostrum benefits include 86 growth factors and 96 or more immune factors and transferable antibodies.
The growth factors serve to help the gut and other lean tissues develop and mature. This is especially beneficial for growing a healthy gut microbiome. The immune factors and transferable antibodies literally enable the infant to survive. These factors and antibodies have been developed by the mother over her lifetime of exposure to pathogens for which the developing infant would have no antibodies.
These compounds are perfectly suited for human use, as well. They are not species specific. That means you can get all of the colostrum benefits from bovine colostrum as a calf can.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
In order to fully understand all of the colostrum benefits there are, it is important to understand more about leaky gut syndrome. This condition is one that occurs frequently and quite often associated with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
The lining of the wall of the intestine (the gut) is only one cell in thickness. These cells are held and “glued” together tightly when the gut is healthy. This prevents materials, such as bacteria, viruses, food particles, and other organisms, from crossing that barrier between two cells called the “tight junction” and causing inflammation in the rest of the body.
When you are under significant, continuing stress, this lining can become damaged and become more permeable, allowing the materials described above to cross over into the enteric circulation and to the rest of the body. When this occurs, your body’s immune system is activated. It treats these materials that leaked through as foreign invaders and begin attacking them. Inflammation results.
This inflammation becomes the foundation for numerous chronic illness conditions as it travels throughout the body in the blood stream. It strikes organs, joints and muscles, and even the brain.
In short, inflammation is very toxic to your body. Colostrum contains compounds that can not only attack inflammation directly but also help heal your leaky gut and stop more inflammation from occurring.
First in Colostrum Benefits: Lactoferrin
Possibly the most potent of the compounds found in colostrum is lactoferrin. This multifunctional glycoprotein is already a major component of the human immune system. It attacks and destroys numerous dangerous pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria, staphylococcus, clostridium, and candida albicans. Adding to the body’s supply of lactoferrin by taking colostrum supplements increases its power to destroy these pathogens.
Increasing the importance of this most powerful of the colostrum benefits is the fact that lactoferrin not only destroys pathogens, it also aids in the growth of probiotics. Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria are two probiotics studied that showed increased growth in the presence of lactoferrin.
Lactoferrin is also effective in fighting viruses and bacteria. Studies of MS subjects showed a positive response to the use of colostrum rich in IgA. No side effects were reported by these subjects. MS is one of those chronic illness conditions that is triggered or exacerbated by viruses.
Lactoferrin has been shown to aid in restoring the humoral immune response, mediated by T and B cells. Viral and bacterial infections have been reduced in the presence of lactoferrin in immunocompromised subjects. This finding may be important in reducing possible triggers for autoimmune chronic illness conditions.
Studies have also shown lactoferrin to slow the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1-beta, a biological marker that can be elevated in inflammatory states. Inhibiting these proinflammatory cytokines is important in the remediation of autoimmune conditions in which inflammation increases pain responses.
These compounds are messenger factors, microscopic molecules that communicate information regarding immunity from organism to organism. This information helps the receiving organism learn about immune threats, either internal or external, and how to respond properly. The transfer factors pass this information from immune cell to immune cell.
These transfer factors apparently contain RNA and proteins, but not DNA. They are small and non-allergenic. Taken orally, they retain full potency. One of the colostrum benefits of all mammals is the ability of newborns to take in these transfer factors and have passive immunity for any of the pathogens experienced by the mother.
Bovine colostrum has been researched extensively and found to be a safe and viable source of colostrum with transfer factors for human consumption. This is important due to the fact that the growth and immune factors in bovine colostrum are essentially identical to those in human colostrum and are more potent. One of the bovine colostrum benefits is the presence of glycoproteins and protease inhibitors that work to protect the active factors in colostrum from the destructive effects of the human digestive system.
Immunoglobulins are one of the transfer factors in the multitude of colostrum benefits. They are the primary active components of bovine colostrum and serve several purposes. They help to keep the immune system balanced, regulate the thymus which is a key factor in the immune system, help control inflammation nutritionally, and help protect against allergic reactions.
Only 2 percent of this immunoglobulin is found in human colostrum. But bovine colostrum contains 38 percent, specifically a protein antibody, IgG. This is an important immunoglobulin whose effectiveness has been proven against many microorganisms, some of which have developed resistance to current antibiotics.
Bovine colostrum also contains protease inhibitors that prevent the enzymes in the human digestive system from destroying the immunoglobulins. This lets the immunoglobulins go directly to the bowel where they adhere to the mucosal lining and produce antibodies.
Proline-Rich Polypeptides: Proline-rich polypeptides (PRP) aid and regulate the thymus gland, the ‘master gland’ for immune responses. Research has shown the PRPs in colostrum help build up a suppressed immune response. On the other hand, if the immune response is overactive, these PRPs will help to balance it.
These PRPs, also known as Colostrinin, help prevent overproduction of lymphocytes and aid in production of helper and suppressor T cells. This is the mechanism by which they help balance an overactive immune response found often in AFS.
People with long-lasting infections or multiple, recurring infections and those with chronically depleted immune responses have benefited from colostrum along with beta 1/3, 1/6 glucan (derived from mushrooms.)
One of the major benefits of PRPs is their tendency to stop the inflammatory response. If you have a leaky gut, one of the major harmful conditions that comes with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), inflammation can become rampant in your system. This is partially due to a TH2 cytokine response. This response produces white blood immune cells that attack and damage the fragile gut lining.
As long as these TH2 cytokines are present, you can regenerate cells in your gut lining, but the TH2 cytokines will just destroy them again. That makes healing leaky gut almost impossible. The PRPs in colostrum stops TH2 cytokine production, but allows beneficial white blood cells to continue their work.
The combination of colostrum’s PRPs stopping TH2 cytokine production and the growth factors in colostrum helping rebuild the gut lining speeds healing of leaky gut. This is another of the colostrum benefits that helps you deal with AFS.
Growth factors contained in colostrum help in repairing the damage sustained by inflammatory responses. Epithelial growth factor (EGF) appears to help in repair of skin cells in conditions like lupus or other autoimmune conditions. Transforming growth factor (TGF) seems to aid in reversing protein breakdown and in stimulating repair of tissue. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) aids in transporting glucose in people with diabetes.
These growth factors are also important in controlling inflammation and in repairing damaged cells in the lining of the gut. This helps reduce or heal leaky gut. EGF is the growth factor that will help repair gut lining tissue.
Research has shown an increase in gut permeability when NSAIDS are taken for 1 — 7 days. When colostrum is taken with the NSAIDS, the mucosa is more healthy. Research has indicated this result is due to the multiple growth factors in the colostrum.
One of the major colostrum benefits is its ability to heal the gut and reduce permeability. This strongly suggests colostrum can potentially reduce or stop progression of illness conditions such as AFS which have leaky gut as one of the contributing factors.
These growth factors have also shown promise in slowing down aging and the physical signs that go with it. One of the properties of growth factors help return elasticity to the skin, reducing wrinkles by helping firm up skin tissue. These growth factors are more effective and safer than human growth hormone. They can help support the entire body regenerate and rebuild through added nutrition.
Colostrum also nutritionally helps improve memory function, balance blood sugar levels, and aid in the regulation of brain chemicals that control moods. All of these benefits help in reducing the effects of aging.
Another benefit of colostrum in rebuilding the body is its cumulative effect. The longer it is used, the greater the benefit overall.
These are protein derivatives found in colostrum that have been found to reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and fever. One clinical study showed people suffering from chronic rheumatoid arthritis and those experiencing treatment-resistant osteoarthritis obtained significant benefit from continued use of the infopeptides in colostrum. There were no reported side effects.
Mechanism of Colostrum Effects on TNF-Alpha
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) has been implicated in several chronic illness conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Research from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology has shown the pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause so much trouble with rheumatoid arthritis to be reduced or stopped if the TNF-alpha is neutralized. People with both rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease benefit from TNF-alpha blockers.
Further research has shown colostrum to have TNF-alpha receptors which bind to and block TNF-alpha activity. This neutralization of TNF-alpha is possibly one of the mechanisms by which colostrum decreases these pro-inflammatory cytokines and improves the health of people suffering from several chronic debilitating illness conditions.
AFS and NEM Response
Many of the colostrum benefits discussed thus far are also benefits for sufferers of AFS. This condition is that resulting from continuing stress in the life of a person. Any time stress comes into the life of anyone, the same process occurs. The body is stimulated to release a cascade of hormones and chemicals in response to the stress. The adrenal glands release cortisol, the stress-fighting hormone to counter the effects of stress. If the stress continues, the adrenals become fatigued and not able to secrete sufficient cortisol. This is when the symptoms of AFS begin. Ultimately, these symptoms can become so debilitating as to cause the person to become bedridden.
The most comprehensive and effective way to view these symptoms is from the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) model of stress response. Rather than viewing symptoms alone, or single organs in evaluating and remediating this condition of AFS, NEM proposes looking at six organ systems that interact in an interrelated manner. This viewpoint says what affects one of these organ systems affects all in some way. It allows more effective ways of assessing and dealing with symptoms of AFS. Traditionally trained medical professionals typically do not adhere to this model’s viewpoint and thus don’t successfully deal with the vague symptoms of AFS.
Anti-Aging as One of the Colostrum Benefits
Many of the compounds found in bovine colostrum aid in slowing down the aging process. Nearly everyone wants to slow down this process, and taking colostrum as a supplement may help you do that. Some of the key compounds in colostrum that address aging include:
Naturally Occurring Insulin-Like Growth Factor
IGF-1 may be the most important factor in bovine colostrum that affects aging. It is one of the most potent ways to activate the AKT signaling pathway. This pathway stimulates cell growth and proliferation while also inhibiting programmed cell death. Thus, it helps fight the metabolic effects of aging. The IGF-1 in bovine colostrum helps in increasing lean muscle mass and bone density, and aids in tissue regeneration.
Used externally, these compounds help in reducing wrinkles in the skin that so often are some of the first signs of aging. Used internally, they aid in the healing of the lining of the gut. These are long-chain sugars and act as natural prebiotics that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut and help keep the digestive system functioning at its optimum.
Thymosin Alpha and Beta
These hormones are naturally produced by the thymus gland. The thymus is a gland located in the center of your chest. At birth, it is roughly the size of your heart, but gradually decreases in size as you age. There may be little left of the thymus by the time you’re a senior citizen. This is unfortunate because the thymus is important in the functioning of a healthy immune system. There is some evidence that bovine colostrum may help in regenerating this small but very important gland.
This is an enzyme found in milk and colostrum that functions as an antimicrobial agent. Its primary function is to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This beneficial property is transferred to anyone who consumes colostrum. It also serves to fight gingivitis if it is allowed to dissolve in your mouth. Some evidence shows it may also regrow receding gum lines. Research suggests it also may assist in the consumption of cancer cells by white blood cells by stimulating them to do this.
Raw colostrum contains lactobacillus acidophilus, a beneficial bacteria that is important in the human immune system. When you take antibiotics, this causes an imbalance in your gut between good bacteria and those targeted by antibiotics, which essentially kill all bacteria. This imbalance shows up not only in your gut, but also in your skin, nose, throat, and mouth. Taking acidophilus helps by resupplying the gut with beneficial bacteria first, then overflowing into other areas of your body. The naturally occurring prebiotics found in colostrum feed the acidophilus as well as other beneficial bacteria in your body.
Lactoferrin and Hemopexin
These two nutrients found in colostrum may help in balancing the playing field between men and women where aging is concerned. One theory explaining the shorter lifespan of men around the world has to do with the fact that men don’t have menstrual periods in which blood is shed regularly. This may be important because of excess iron that circulates in men’s blood. It basically gets “rusty” and may cause damage that can accumulate over time. This is due to oxidation; iron is a pro-oxidant in the body. Lactoferrin and hemopexin tend to bind to excess iron and remove it from the body.
Found in higher amounts in bovine colostrum, nucleosides have a number of beneficial functions in the body. One of the important beneficial functions of nucleosides is their tendency to help modulate the immune system. They change the immune system to make it work more effectively, rather than simply increasing it. Just increasing the immune system could stimulate underlying autoimmune conditions. In addition, nucleosides also improve iron absorption in the body and helps in the desaturation of fats that makes them easier to digest.
General Colostrum Benefits for Your Body
In addition to the above health benefits of colostrum for your body, there are also some more general ones. These include building and restoring your hormonal system back to levels you had in your youth. Another general benefit of colostrum is to strengthen your immune system so that it functions optimally. It also restores and repairs your digestive system to also function optimally. In addition, it provides many of the nutrients essential for your optimum health. It contains all the essential building blocks for all of these nutrients.
Cautions When Taking Colostrum
It is very important for you to keep in mind that colostrum is a dairy product. If bovine colostrum is harvested too long a time hours after the birth of a calf, milk is beginning to flow in addition to the colostrum. This can pose a problem for you if you’re allergic to dairy products or are lactose intolerant.
Also keep in mind you get what you pay for with colostrum, just like with any other supplement. The proper processing of colostrum for sale is important. Many of the colostrum products available today are overcooked, over-processed, fat is removed, and they are over-refined to the point of no longer being bioavailable.
Cooking colostrum supplements removes the probiotic fractions and denatures the fragile immune antibodies and growth factors. Vital fat soluble immune factors can be removed from whole colostrum, as well.
Those with advanced AFS may find colostrum stimulatory is certain situations, resulting in anxiety, insomnia, irritability, fatigue, and adrenal crashes. Always consult your adrenal fatigue literate provider prior to commencing this nutrient.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
What is one of the main colostrum benefits?
One of the main colostrum benefits is its ability to heal a leaky gut. Since leaky gut is one of the main causes of inflammation, and inflammation is the basis for chronic illness conditions, this makes colostrum very important in dealing with a multitude of chronic illnesses.