Colostrum: Safe, Natural Support for Digestion & Immunity
Written By: Claire Arcidiacono, ND
Everyone knows that the digestive tract is critical in breaking down your food. What most people do not know is that the digestive tract also contains most of the immune system. It also contains a delicate balance of good bacteria, bad bacteria, yeast and fungus. When that balance is upset, it can lead to issues such as Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's, Ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and various autoimmune issues.
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum is the very first diet of mammals1. It is the first milk that is produced in a new mother within the first 48 hours of a baby's life. It contains immunoglobulins, growth factors, antimicrobials, lactoferrin, cytokines, and lactoperoxidase.3 It also contains antibodies to many different types of bacteria and viruses. In other words, colostrum boosts the immune system and can kill bad bacteria, yeast, and even fungi! In addition to boosting the immune system, colostrum can also moderate the immune response.2 This means that it is helpful in different autoimmune illnesses.6 It also helps to heal the digestive tract lining by healing the mucosa of the digestive tract lining.
Think of the digestive tract as a tube that runs through the body. The body only allows certain substances to penetrate this tube. When you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast, organisms can damage this tube causing toxins and different proteins to slowly pass through the wall. This is called leaky gut and it is one of the things colostrum helps to prevent by healing the tube wall.7
Immune System Health
Overall, colostrum helps to moderate immune response by increasing the protective aspects of the immune system and helping to lower the inflammatory aspect. It also helps support the digestive tract. Colostrum is also helpful in other digestive issues, including IBD, IBS, Chrons, UC, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced gut injury.4 Colostrum is may also be helpful for chemotherapy patients who develop mucositis and for those who have HIV-induced diarrhea. Colostrum also helps in other cases where boosting the immune system is necessary; for example, for preventing colds and flus and in treating fungi and candida. Due to effects on decreasing inflammatory cytokines, colostrum can help conditions such as autoimmune disease, and healing the nervous system.7
Is Colostrum Safe?
Colostrum is very safe! It can be used by almost anyone. One way to determine if colostrum can be helpful is to do a stool analysis, SIgA. Secretory IgA (SIgA) is the main immunoglobulin in mucus secretions. The intestinal cells produce about 2-3g of SIgA every day and production tends to peak in childhood and start to decline after about sixty years old. When the SIgA levels are low, it indicates that the immune system needs a boost. Taking 600 mg twice a day of colostrum can be very helpful in raising this marker.
In addition to stool testing, directly for immune function, testing for adrenal function can indicate if colostrum is needed. When someone has adrenal fatigue, it can adversely affect the immune system. In this case, colostrum is very helpful!2 Colostrum is great for individuals of all ages who need to boost immune health, or have any digestive or autoimmune issues. Very often colostrum is great in the winter months to prevent the coming colds and flus!5
1. Gottstein, Michael. Colostrum is vital ingredient to keep newborn lambs alive. Irish Independent. 3 March 2009.
2. Peter Bird, Northamptonshire ACRE 'Village Voices' oral history recordings, Northamptonshire ACRE and Northamptonshire County Archives
3. L. Saint, Margret Smith, P. E. Hartmann (1984). "The yield and nutrient content of colostrum and milk of women from giving birth to 1 month post-partum". British Journal of Nutrition 52: 91. doi:10.1079/bjn19840074.
4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, ed. (1 November 1990). "Lymphocytes bearing the T cell receptor gamma delta in human breast milk". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
5. Groves, ML (1960). "The isolation of a red protein from milk". Journal of the American Chemical Society 82 (13): 3345–3360. doi:10.1021/ja01498a029.
6. Paulík S, Slanina L, Polácek M (January 1985). "[Lysozyme in the colostrum and blood of calves and dairy cows]". Vet Med (Praha) (in Slovak) 30 (1): 21–8. PMID 3918380.
7. Reiter B (1978). "The lactoperoxidase-thiocyanate-hydrogen peroxide antibacterium system". Ciba Found. Symp. (65): 285–94. PMID 225143.
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