Colostrum is the milk produced by mammals in late pregnancy and in the first several days after giving birth. Babies are born without a fully formed immune system, and in addition to its caloric density, colostrum has a high concentration of antibodies, antioxidants, and other immune system components. The antibodies protect the baby’s mucus membranes, throat and intestines against infection. Colostrum also contains a number of other types of infection-fighting cells which patrol the environment and protect against viruses and bacteria, while the antioxidant properties protect the baby from oxidative damage.
Because of all of these functions, colostrum can be used medicinally as a great immune system booster. In nature, a mother’s colostrum is especially effective for her offspring, because she has been exposed to the same pathogens that will exist in the baby’s environment. Therefore her colostrum can pass along the antibodies to those specific bugs. This concept is nothing new. Before antibiotics, colostrum was the primary source of antibodies used to fight against infections. In fact, the vaccine created for polio was derived from an antibody extracted from the colostrum of a cow that had been exposed to the polio virus. However, the non-specific immune boosting components also make colostrum effective against infections in general. Its efficacy for this purpose has been well demonstrated in many studies.
To give just one example, in 2011 a study was conducted in order to determine whether skimmed and concentrated bovine colostrum was protective against influenza. This study examined the levels of certain immune cells in mice after being treated with colostrum, versus a control group of mice given only saline. Then the mice in both groups were exposed to the influenza virus. Results showed that the mice treated with colostrum demonstrated significantly fewer influenza symptoms clinically as well as significantly higher immune cellular activity than those mice in the control group. These findings confirm many earlier studies, both in animal models and in clinical trials.
Clinically we have found colostrum to be quite effective and safe. In nature, colostrum is made for babies, of course, so it is safe enough even for small children. The colostrum used at our clinic is only the highest quality, from the mother’s second and third milkings after birth. The first milking contains the highest immune potential and nutritional value, although this is reserved for the calves in order to ensure their optimum health.
The bottom line: colostrum is a great natural way to boost immunity against viruses and bacteria. It can be used alone or in combination with a general immune protocol for prevention or treatment of an acute infection.