Thousands of years ago in Scandinavia, farmers celebrated the birth of new calves by making a pudding with the first of its mother’s milk, or its colostrum. It was a celebration thought to bring good health, and by the 1700s, the Western World was beginning to take notice. Indian physicians have used the remedy for thousands of years, and until the development of penicillin, it was popular in almost all areas of the world for treating infections and boosting the immune system.
Colostrum is also mentioned in many writings throughout Biblical times, and is even essentially called a necessity for life. It is listed among other ancient staples such as wheat, salt, honey, and even fire and water. In ancient Egypt, it is thought that colostrum was viewed as an elixir of immortality, as ancient drawings even show a goddess suckling the Pharaoh. In Kenya, it is unclear how old the origins are of colostrum drinking, often by the liter, to increase strength among tribesmen for hunting, building or fighting.
In the 1950s, the man responsible for our most successful polio vaccine, Dr. Albert Sabin, found during his research that colostrum actually had antibodies for polio, and encouraged its use among children. This research ultimately led to his polio vaccine that is credited for saving an immeasurable number of lives.
What Does Colostrum Do?
Colostrum is thought to be a great booster for immune systems, and is one of the reasons many mothers choose to breast feed newborns within the first 72 hours of birth. Even when it is bovine (from other mammals), it is loaded with minerals, vitamins and amino acids. It can increase energy and decrease fatigue, promotes tissue repair in both wounds and muscles, as well as repairing cartilage, bone and nerves. It is often recommended for use among those with fibromyalgia, as it can help with joint and muscular pain with prolonged use. It is also recommended for long term management of ailments such as diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. As part of its immune system boosting effects, it is thought to help fight certain types of viruses and bacteria, including yeast and fungal infections.
As humans, we gradually produce less and less of some of these components as we age, so colostrum can help us maintain the health we had when we were young. In fact, the colostrum found in mammals, such as cows, is virtually identical to the molecular makeup of the first breast milk a human child receives. Some studies even reveal that bovine colostrum is up to four times richer in immune boosting properties than that of humans. Further, it should be noted that colostrum does not only help humans, but can also be beneficial to pets as well. For dogs who suffer from arthritis, hypoglycemia, or other ailments, it can even be part of a long-term treatment plan that is both helpful and delicious to them.
For those who may be concerned that a mammal’s colostrum is given to humans at the sacrifice of the newborn animal’s health, one can rest assured that it is common farming practice to meet the needs of the baby animals first and foremost. This is because with proper colostrum intake, they too can grow up healthy to continue nature’s beneficial cycle. Cows, however, produce such an abundance of this supplement that there is often a great deal remaining after the needs of the calves are met. This is the product that often makes it into supplements for human and animal consumption.
Those on vegan diets may have concerns about the supplement since it is from a mammal. While individual beliefs will certainly vary, it is worth noting that the vegan diets of some of India’s most spiritual leaders include colostrum. Because it not milk, it is also safe for most people with lactose intolerance. Very little lactose is sometimes present, so those with intolerances may want to specifically look for high quality supplements that are labeled as true colostrum (not transitional, etc). Many observations have found the supplement to even help with lactose intolerance.
Numerous studies have been conducted on Colostrum, and patient testimonials continue to align with findings. In The Medical Journalist Report of Innovative Biologics: Townsend Letters for Doctors and Patients, Walker published findings that revealed multiple benefits for a wide range of ailments. In fact, the American Institute of Nutrition found that Colostrum’s active chromium complex regulates glucose levels in the blood, and Pediatric Research found Colostrum to have antioxidant properties as well, which provide a wide range of benefits for the immune system. For those with Sicca or Sjogrens who suffer from dry eye, dryness and lesions can be treated with colostrum, as Advanced Experimental Medicine and Biology published findings showing improvement when the supplement was taken for eye ailments.
Furthermore, a double-blind placebo controlled study showed successful improvement in Alzheimers patients, publishing the results in Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis.
Colostrum comes in many forms, so there are several choices regarding methods of consumption. Powder can be added to food, and though it is most commonly used for humans, many report that pets enjoy the flavor of this powder mixed with their food. It is, of course, also produced in liquid form, but those who wish to not taste the product may prefer capsules. The product is also marketed in the form of a lozenge.
It should be noted that the supplement works best on an empty stomach, however, with a full glass of water. Care should be taken to ensure pets have plenty of water when they are ingesting colostrum as well. The supplement still has the same wide range of benefits if taken with a meal, but effects may be slightly diminished.
It is recommended that supplements, in whatever form, are taken two to three times daily, and there is no consensus on a recommended dosage for those who are simply looking to stay healthy. For those who are looking to treat ailments, 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams daily are recommended, and one can split the dosage into two or three doses, depending entirely on preference.